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Perceptual and decision-making skills of Australian football umpires

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This study evaluated a video-based testing protocol to assess perceptual and decision-making skill in Australian football. Whether umpires from two disparate levels of skill expertise could be discriminated on a sportspecific perceptual and decision making task was trialled. In addition, any task-specific differences between Australian football umpires' and current players' perception of the same game-play information were investigated. National league umpires, state league umpires, and national league players viewed video projected game-play sequences across three perceptual and decision-making tasks: 1) pattern recall, 2) play prediction and, 3) infringement identification (umpires only). Players performed better than both the umpire groups (p<0.05) in the pattern recall task. No significant differences were found across any groups on the play prediction task. The national league umpires made significantly (p<0.05) more correct decisions compared to the state league umpires on the infringement identification task. These results indicate that a video-based perceptual and decision-making task can discriminate between disparate umpire skill levels, and also between the task-specific perceptual skill sets of umpires and players in Australian football. There is potential for video-based assessment protocols to be utilised for the development of skill benchmarks and talent identification in Australian football and other 'invasion-game' sports.
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Keywords: AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (AFL); INFRINGEMENT IDENTIFICATION; PATTERN RECALL; PLAY PREDICTION; SPORT EXPERTISE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-12-01

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