Stuart C. Carrington, Jamie S. North and Abbe Brady
Faculty of Sport, Allied Health and Performance Science, St Mary’s University, London, United Kingdom
Carrington, S.C., North, J.S., Brady, A. (2022). Utilising experiential knowledge of elite match officials: Recommendations to improve practice design for football referees. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 53(3), 242-266. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2022.53.242
Cultural and financial growth in football has seen an increased level of scrutiny on the performance of match officials. Although the professionalisation of officiating in football has seen an increase in research and practice to improve decision-making, such practice lacks ‘functionality’ and accurate representation, attributed in part to the absence of qualitative data from officials. This study aimed to acquire and in- terpret experiential knowledge of elite football referees to improve practice design. Three FIFA and UEFA listed match officials with 61 years of combined experience (M = 20.3; SD = 2.49) were interviewed. Thematic analysis revealed both proximal and distal constraints on performance, represented in five higher order themes of per- formance environment, governing body environment, individual constraints, media and social media influence, and societal views, that are presented using Bronfenbren- ner’s ecological systems model. The constraints identified inform recommendations for representative practice design to improve the performance of match officials.
Keywords: Affective learning, Ecological systems, Functionality, Representative learning design, Thematic analysis