Training practices and perceptions of soccer officials: Insights from the Referee Training Activity Questionnaire (RTAQ)
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McEwan, G., Unnithan, V., Easton, C. and Arthur, R. (2022) 'Training practices and perceptions of soccer officials: Insights from the Referee Training Activity Questionnaire (RTAQ)', International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching (In Press).
This study sought to: 1) document the multifaceted training practices of soccer officials in relation to their role and officiating category; and 2) explore the association between the officials’ training practices and perceptions of the attributes pertinent to optimal performance. Field (FRs) and assistant (ARs) referees at officiating categories 1-3 (n=173) with the Scottish Football Association were invited to participate in this national cross-sectional study. Using the Referee Training Activity Questionnaire (RTAQ), officials reported the volume and type of training engaged in during a 2-week in-season period. Respondents’ perceptions of the skills pertinent to performance were also explored using a 7-point Likert scale (1=not at all important; 7=extremely important), with the frequency in which they trained these skills assessed using a 5-point Likert Scale (1=less than once a month; 5=more than once a week). Ninety-one responses were received, representing a 52.6% response rate. Irrespective of their role or level of professional attainment, the officials’ training was focused mostly on physical conditioning, with significantly less time apportioned to decision-making (P<0.001; ES=1.28), psychological (P<0.001; ES=1.47), and technical (P<0.001; ES=1.23) skills training. Meanwhile, although decision-making and psychological skills were rated as “very important” to “extremely important” amongst both FRs and ARs, officials purposefully trained these skills “less than once a month”. The present study provides important new insights into the training practices engaged in by soccer officials. As accurate decision-making is at the forefront of soccer officiating, enhancing the exposure of match officials to match-related decision-making during training should be considered a priority for future research.