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Lynn L. Ridinger, Kyungun R. Kim, Stacy Warner and Jacob K. Tingle

Referees are vital to almost all organized sport competitions; however, sport managers and administrators are facing a growing problem as the number of qualified sport officials continues to decline ( American Sport Education Program, 2011 ; Cuskelly & Hoye, 2013 ; Kim, 2016 ). A shortage of

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Roy David Samuel

I am a qualified sport and exercise psychologist and also a licensed psychologist in Israel. Since 2010 I have been serving as the sole psychologist of the Referee Union in the Israel Football Association. As part of this position, I have provided consultation services, lectured on a range of

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Kamiel Reid and Christine Dallaire

Because there are so few of us. I’ve said this before to other people but I think I’m a novelty to Old Timers, because there’s so few female referees so I’m experiencing those games differently than other referees because they’re going to treat me differently. (Sarah, Age: 33, Level of

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Christopher F. Baldwin and Roger Vallance

Five women rugby union referees who officiated in the New South Wales (NSW) suburban rugby union premiership were interviewed about their experiences refereeing men. After a comprehensive analysis of the interview transcripts, four themes emerged around barriers and challenges to women’s participation in officiating, these themes are: 1) Barriers experienced by women rugby union referees; 2) Success in refereeing male rugby union players; 3) Challenges of women participating in refereeing rugby union; 4) Ways to bring about change. The findings imply that there is discrimination and marginalization present in women’s sports officiating at male games which is in line with the literature in women’s sports coaching. The findings also suggest that women have to be superior and elite athletes with a history of success to be appointed to the best male rugby union matches. Support both on and off the field is crucial to the development and success of female referees.

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Daniel Castillo, Matthew Weston, Shaun J. McLaren, Jesús Cámara and Javier Yanci

The aims of this study were to describe the internal and external match loads (ML) of refereeing activity during official soccer matches and to investigate the relationship among the methods of ML quantification across a competitive season. A further aim was to examine the usefulness of differential perceived exertion (dRPE) as a tool for monitoring internal ML in soccer referees. Twenty field referees (FRs) and 43 assistant referees (ARs) participated in the study. Data were collected from 30 competitive matches (FR = 20 observations, AR = 43 observations) and included measures of internal (Edwards’ heart-rate-derived training impulse [TRIMPEDW]) ML, external (total distance covered, distance covered at high speeds, and player load) ML, and ML differentiated ratings of perceived respiratory (sRPEres) and leg-muscle (sRPEmus) exertion. Internal and external ML were all greater for FRs than for ARs (–19.7 to –72.5), with differences ranging from very likely very large to most likely extremely large. The relationships between internal-ML and external-ML indicators were, in most cases, unclear for FR (r < .35) and small to moderate for AR (r < .40). The authors found substantial differences between RPEres and RPEmus scores in both FRs (0.6 AU; ±90% confidence limits 0.4 AU) and ARs (0.4; ±0.3). These data demonstrate the multifaceted demands of soccer refereeing and thereby highlight the importance of monitoring both internal and external ML. Moreover, dRPE represents distinct dimensions of effort and may be useful in monitoring soccer referees’ ML during official matches.

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Nico W. VanYperen

This study aimed to predict stay/leave behavior among volleyball referees. The predictor variables reflect commitment aspects from the literature: attraction, perceived lack of alternatives, personal investments, and feelings of obligation to remain. Intent to quit was assumed to mediate the link between these predictor variables and actual turnover. Participants were 420 volunteer volleyball referees officiating at the international, national, or local level. Predictor variables explained 50% of variance of intent to quit, which was the only significant predictor of actual turnover several months later. The percentage of correctly classified subjects was 86.2%. Intent to quit mediated the link between enjoyment and involvement alternatives and stay/leave behavior. Furthermore, the results demonstrate that intent to quit is conceptually and empirically separable from the predictor variables, albiet that strong overlap was observed between enjoyment and involvement alternatives. It is concluded that the most promising way to reduce actual turnover among volleyball referees is to enhance positive affective responses to officiating, particularly by ensuring procedural fairness in the promotion system and paying more attention to referee training and supervision.

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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.

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Fabrice Dosseville, Sylvain Laborde and Markus Raab

We studied the influence of contextual factors and the referees’ own motor experience on the quality of their perceptual judgments. The theoretical framework combined the social cognition approach with the embodied cognition, and enabled us to determine whether judgments were biased or not by using a combination of contextual and internal factors. Sixty fully-qualified and aspiring judo referees were tested in a video-based decision-making task in which they had to decide when to stop the ground contact phase. The decision task differed depending on whether one contestant dominated the other or whether they were equal in the prior phase. Results indicated that the referees’ motor experience influenced perceptual judgments and interacted with contextual factors, enhancing the need for a combination of social and embodied cognition to explain biases in referees’ judgments. Practical considerations were discussed in this paper, such as, whether referees need recent motor experience and how this could influence rules of governing bodies for officiating.

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Amy Brightmore, John O’Hara, Kevin Till, Steve Cobley, Tate Hubka, Stacey Emmonds and Carlton Cooke


To evaluate the movement and physiological demands of Australasian National Rugby League (NRL) referees, officiating with a 2-referee (ie, lead and pocket) system, and to compare the demands of the lead and pocket referees.


Global positioning system devices (10 Hz) were used to obtain 86 data sets (lead, n = 41; pocket, n = 45) on 19 NRL referees. Total distance, relative distance covered, and heart rate per half and across match play were examined within and between referees using t tests. Distance, time, and number of movement “efforts” were examined in 6 velocity classifications (ie, standing <0.5, walking 0.51–2.0, jogging 2.01–4.0, running 4.01–5.5, high-speed running 5.51–7.0, and sprinting >7.0 m/s) using analysis of variance. Cohen d effect sizes are reported.


There were no significant differences between the lead and pocket referees for any movement or physiological variable. There was an overall significant (large, very large) effect for distance (% distance) and time (% time) (P < .001) between velocity classifications for both the lead and pocket referees. Both roles covered the largest distance and number of efforts at velocities of 0.51–2.0 m/s and 2.01–4.0 m/s, which were interspersed with efforts >5.51 m/s.


Findings highlight the intermittent nature of rugby league refereeing but show that there were no differences in the movement and physiological demands of the 2 refereeing roles. Findings are valuable for those responsible for the preparation, training, and conditioning of NRL referees and to ensure that training prepares for and simulates match demands.