Training practices and perceptions of soccer officials: insights from the Referee Training Activity Questionnaire (RTAQ)

Gary P. McEwan*, Viswanath B. Unnithan, Chris Easton, Rosie Arthur

*Corresponding author for this work

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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 referees and assistant 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 field referees and assistant referees, 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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Science and Coaching
Early online date7 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2022


  • association football
  • soccer
  • referees
  • training
  • coaching


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