Utilizing video capture to evaluate and improve referee penalty decision-making in ice hockey


Examining decision making in ice hockey referees has received limited attention; yet ice hockey is a popular sport. While research is needed to examine the factors that influence referee decision making, few research tools exist. This research evaluated the utility of on-ice video capture for the examination of in game referee decision-making. Methods: Written informed consent was received from referees officiating during a Spring hockey season. Complete game footage of AAA hockey games was collected using a Go Pro camera mounted to the helmet of officials. Video clips were then created from the game footage related to on-ice infractions. The clips were assessed by a panel of expert officials to provide a consensus on the appropriate decision for each penalty scenario, as well as provide a level of difficulty for making the correct call. Results: A high inter-rater reliability of 90% was achieved for the decision outcome of the scenarios as per current officiating rules, as well as for level of call difficulty. There was unanimous support that the information obtained would be of value for evaluating the competency of ice hockey officials and for referee training and development. Discussion: Simple video capture devices (e.g., helmet mounted Go Pro cameras) provide important insight into the on-ice perspective of hockey officials, and can be used to examine the decision-making capabilities of officials. It is envisioned that this approach will help in the ongoing training and evaluation of ice hockey officials across a range of competencies.