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  • Author: Duncan R.D. Mascarenhas x
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Duncan R.D. Mascarenhas, Dave Collins and Patrick Mortimer

Plessner and Betsch’s (2001) investigation into officiating behavior may be representative of a shift from stress-oriented research (Anshel & Weinberg, 1995; Rainey & Winterich, 1995; Stewart & Ellery. 1996) to consideration of decision-making (Craven, 1998; Ford. Gallagher, Lacy, et al., 1999; Oudejans. Verheijen, Bakker, et al., 2000), the primary function of referees in any sport. Commendably, Plessner and Betsch have investigated the most important focus of referee performance, the application of the rules (Anshel, 1995). However, methodological weaknesses, together with a fundamental error in the attribution of causation to the findings, significantly dilute the paper’s contribution to extending knowledge in this important area.

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Duncan R.D. Mascarenhas, Dave Collins and Patrick Mortimer

To identify a framework for referee training and selection, based on the key areas of effective performance, we conducted content analyses on Rugby Football Union referee assessor reports, referee training materials, performance profiles from a group of English premier league referees, and a review of published research on sports officiating. The Cornerstones Performance Model of Refereeing emerged, overarched by the psychological characteristics of excellence (see McCaffrey & Orlick, 1989) and featuring four key areas: (a) knowledge and application of the law; (b) contextual judgment; (c) personality and management skills; and (d) fitness, positioning, and mechanics. Focus group interviews confirmed the usefulness of the model as an assessment and training tool, which the RFU now use to develop referees throughout England.

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Duncan R.D. Mascarenhas, Dave Collins, Patrick W. Mortimer and Bob Morris

The purpose of this investigation was to pilot a video-based training program designed to develop referees’ shared mental models. A group of English Rugby Football Union (RFU) national referees, divided into a control group (n = 15) and experimental group (n = 41) made their immediate decisions on pre and posttests of 10 video clips taken from real game referee perspective recordings. Over a six-week period the experimental group studied training tapes consisting of 5 sets of 5 tackles, in each case with an expert providing his interpretation of the correct decision. The lowest ranked referees on the national panel significantly improved their percentage of correct decisions, becoming 17.43% more accurate in their decisions at the posttest. These results suggest that such shared mental model training is an appropriate method for improving referee performance.