The development of sport officials: A scoping review


Sport officials' (i.e., referees, judges, and umpires) roles are integral to enforcing rules and ensuring athlete safety during sport competitions (Baxter et al., 2021). It is important, then, for organizations to develop effective sport officials at all levels of competition. The purpose of this scoping review was to determine what evidence exists on the development (e.g., learning, advancement, and skill acquisition) of sport officials. We used Arksey and O'Malley's (2005) framework to guide the scoping review process. First, we identified three relevant databases from which to search for sources (e.g., articles, books, theses, etc…): SPORTDiscus, Web of Science and PsycINFO. Second, in each database, we searched for English sources that contained original data and used the terms "development" and "sport" with any of the following: referees, judges, and umpires. We also examined the senior author's personal database of sport officiating sources. Initial results yielded 568 sources for review, though 32 were removed because they were duplicates. The third step was inspecting source titles; studies deemed clearly irrelevant to our purpose were removed, leaving 63 sources. Fourth, we examined the abstracts for relevance based on our inclusion and exclusion criteria, which left 8 sources for final analysis. Two major themes were found during analysis: (1) role-specific training and on-the-job training, and (2) the use of video and perceptual-cognitive training. Past playing experience was an asset, though early specialization as an official was more beneficial. The use of video, especially using in-game situations could be used as a replacement for the lack of practice settings.