First-person video recordings with eye tracking glasses and cognitive task analysis as a framework for referee decision training

D. R. D. Mascarenhas, J. Birtwhistle, A. Martindale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: In comparison to players little is known about how sports officialsintegrate perception and cognition to manage in-game decisions.Design: Using a naturalistic approach this paper uses first-person eye-trackedvideo footage to document the attentional demands and situation awareness(SA) of expert touch (rugby/football) referees in their real-world environmentto inform decision training for amateur officials. Drawing directly from matchperformances, an applied cognitive task analysis (ACTA) techniqueinvestigated how three international referees manage complex attentionaldemands, to see what lessons could be learned for less-experienced referees.Findings: Referees emphasised the importance of role clarity and gameunderstanding as the foundation for effective match officiating. They usedadvanced cues such as player body language and movement patterns (SA1)to interpret game status (SA2) and predict likely actions and movementpatterns (SA3).Ordering abstraction, preventive communication and early positioningwere used to lessen cognitive load and encourage game flow.Practical Implications: The merits of using first-person, eye-tracked, audiovisual footage with ACTA for training less experienced sports officialsthrough expert verbal elicitation or self-reflection are discussed.Research Contribution: The paper proposes a decision tree for touchrefereeing which emphasises a hierarchical ordering of cognitive decisionpoints that provides the basis for training amateur referees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Issue number0
Early online date25 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2022


  • naturalistic decision making
  • visual gaze
  • cognitive task analysis
  • touch (rugby/ football) referees


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