Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Refereeing - do you think you can make the call?

Every two seconds a top-referee and assistant referee makes a game-related decision in a 55-minute professional soccer (football) match. Can referee judgment be learned or is it natural common sense? In the January issue of Referee the debate was discussed considering what the key elements of judgment are, how newer officials are affected, the impact of judgment on veteran officials when rules change and dealing with areas in judgment that are not so black and white.

Overall there is agreement that having good instincts are essential to making a good official followed by how an individual handles stress and can concentrate during the game. A referee needs to be able to watch what is happening on the field while dealing with players, coaches and fans. Knowing what your role is, who you deal with on the sides (if anyone) and having an excellent understanding of the game can help an official make better judgment calls.

Although there is debate of how one makes a judgment call there is agreement that officials are humans and they sometimes make poor judgments. For example, in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and Korea 26.2% of the offside situations were assessed incorrectly. So don’t feel too bad if you make a poor call now and again. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad referee; it means you are human and it can happen at all levels of the game. What is important is to learn from it and move forward.

If you would like to read more about this area check out the following resources in the SIRC Collection:
  • Korth, Todd. (2010) Can you learn judgment? Referee, (399), 32-35.
  • Catteeuw, P., Helsen, W., Gilis, B., Van Roie, E., & Wagemans, J. (2009). Visual Scan Patterns and Decision-Making Skills of Expert Assistant Referees in Offside Situations. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 31(6), 786-797.

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