Kinematic and physiological analysis of the performance of the football referee and its relationship with decision making

Carlos David Gómez Carmona, José Pino Ortega


The aim of this study was to examine the cinematic and physiological requirements of referees and assistant referees and their relationship to decision-making in various official competition matches in football. The sample consisted of six referees, one acted as main referee and five as assistant referees (age: 21.2 ± 0.98 years; height: 175.67 ± 4.27 cm, weight: 65.73 ± 4.68 kg). The registration of the data of the subjects participating in the study was conducted with an inertial system called WIMU and the analysis of the data was performed with a software called Quiko (RealTrack Systems, Almeria, Spain). In the study, 4 games of the League Championship Third Division (Group XIII) belonging to the 2014-2015 season were analyzed. The main findings were that the referee runs an average distance of 10124.7 ± 543.2 meters, with an average speed between 7.2 and 13 km/h with a maximum heart rate (HRmax) between 85-95% of his maximum; assistant referees walked an average distance of 5793.4 ± 481.7 meters, with an average speed between 3.6 to 7.2 km/h with a HRmax between 75-85% of their maximum. The aspects which influenced the decision making of the referees and caused the errors were: the part of the pitch, the period of play and the HRmax percentage of the referee. What this research shows is that referees and assistant referees should be considered in terms of training as independent people, and that referees must correct the movements in the field, concentration and work situations where your HRmax is above 85% to improve its success rate. Future studies should pursue this investigation with a greater number of senior officials and higher number of matches to generalize the results to all arbitral establishments and improve its quality.


Referee; Assistant referee; Heart rate; Velocity; Acceleration; High intensity work; Distance performed; Decision making


Anguera, M., & Mendo, A. (2013). La metodología observacional en el ámbito del deporte [Observational methodology in sport sciences]. Revista de Ciencias del Deporte, 9(3), 135-160.

Asami, T., Togari, H. y Ohashi, J. (1988). Analysis of movement patterns of referees during soccer matches. En T. Reilly, A. Lees, K. Davids and W.J. Murphy (editores), Science and Football, 341-345. E y FN Spon: Londres.

Castagna, C., Abt, G., & D'Ottavio, S. (2004). Activity profile of international-level soccer referees during competitive matches. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(3), 486–490.<486:APOISR>2.0.CO;2

Catterall, C., Reilly, T., Atkinson, G. y Goldewells, A. (1993). Analysis of work rates and heart rates of association football referees. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 27, 193-196.

Dawson, P., y Dobson, S. (2010). The influence of social pressure and nationality on individual decisions: Evidence from the behaviour of referees. Journal of Economic Psychology, 31 (2), 181-191.

Castagna, C., & D'Ottavio, S. (2001). Effect of Maximal Aerobic Power on Match Performance in Elite Soccer Referees. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 15(4). Retrieved from

Downward, P., y Jones, M. (2007). Effects of crowd size on referee decisions: Analysis of the FA Cup. Journal of sports sciences, 25 (14), 1541-1545.

Elsworthy, N., Burke, D., y Dascombe, B. J. (2014). Factors relating to the decision-making performance of Australian football officials. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 14 (2), 401-410.

Estero, J., Iturriaga, F., & Roque, J. (2009). El proceso de formación de observadores y la obtención de la fiabilidad en metodología observacional para analizar la dinámica de juego en minibásquet. Apunts: Educación física y deportes, (98), 40-45.

FIFA (2014). Laws of the game 2014-2015 (traducido al castellano). Zurich; SW. Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Extraído de:

Harley, R.A., Tozer, K. y Doust, J. (2001). An analysis of movement patterns and physiological strain in relation to optimal positioning of association football referees. En W. Spinks, T. Reilly y A. Murphy (editores), Science and Football IV, 137-143. Routledge: Londres.

Helsen, W., & Bultynck, J. B. (2004). Physical and perceptual-cognitive demands of top-class refereeing in association football. Journal of sports sciences, 22 (2), 179-189.

Johnston, L., & McNaughton, L. (1994). The physiological requirements of Soccer refereeing. Australian Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 26(3–4), 67—72. Retrieved from

Jones, M., Paull, C., y Erskine, J. (2002). The impact of a team's aggressive reputation on the decisions of association football referees. Journal of Sports Sciences, 20 (12), 991-1000.

Krustrup, P. y Bansgbo, J. (2001). Physiological demands of top-class soccer refereeing in relation to physical capacity: effect of intense intermittent exercise training. Journal of Sports Sciences, 19, 881-891.

Krustrup, P., Helsen, W., Randers, M. B., Christensen, J. F., MacDonald, C., Rebelo, A. N., & Bangsbo, J. (2009). Activity profile and physical demands of football referees and assistant referees in international games. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27 (11), 1167-1176.

Larkin, P., Berry, J., Dawson, B., & Lay, B. (2011). Perceptual and decision-making skills of Australian football umpires. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 11 (3), 427-437.

Mallo, J. (2006). Análisis del rendimiento físico de los árbitros y árbitros asistentes durante la competición en el fútbol. Tesis Doctoral. Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

Mallo, J., y Navarro, E. (2009). Análisis biomecánico aplicado a la evaluación del rendimiento técnico de los árbitros y árbitros asistentes de fútbol. Kronos: revista universitaria de la actividad física y el deporte, 15, 123-130.

Mallo, J., Navarro, E., García-Aranda, J., & Helsen, W. (2009). Activity profile of top-class association football referees in relation to fitness-test performance and match standard. Journal of sports sciences, 27 (1), 9-17.

Mallo, J., Navarro, E., Garcia-Aranda, J., & Helsen, W. (2009b). Physical demands of top-class soccer assistant refereeing during high-standard matches. International journal of sports medicine, 30 (5), 331-336.

Mallo, J., García-Aranda, J., y Navarro, E. (2010). Análisis del rendimiento físico de los árbitros de fútbol durante partidos de competición oficial. Motricidad. European Journal of Human Movement, 17, 25-40.

Mallo, J., Frutos, P., Juárez, D., y Navarro, E. (2012). Effect of positioning on the accuracy of decision making of association football top-class referees and assistant referees during competitive matches. Journal of sports sciences, 30 (13), 1437-1445.

Mascarenhas, D., Button, C., O'Hara, D., & Dicks, M. (2009). Physical performance and decision making in association football referees: A naturalistic study. The Open Sports Science Journal, 2, 1-9.

Mohr, M., Krustrup, P. Y Bangsbo, O. (2005). Fatigue in soccer: A brief review. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23, 593-599.

Ortega, A., Villamizar, D., y Zahir, R. (2014). Toma de decisiones en árbitros de futbol: una mirada hacia la eficacia y eficiencia. Actividad física y desarrollo humano, 6 (1), 111-123.

Page, L. y Page. K. (2010). Alone against the crowd: Individual differences in referees´ ability to cope under pressure. Journal of Economic Psychology 31, 192-199.

Pascual, J., Vaillo, R., Domínguez, C., Martin, J., y Larumbe, A. (2014). Valoración y relación de las características antropométricas y la condición física en árbitros de fútbol. Revista Española de Educación Física y Deportes, (406), 15-27.

Plessner, H., y Betsch, T. (2001). Sequential effects in important referee decisions: The case of penalties in soccer. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 23 (3), 254-259.

Reilly, T. (1997). Energetics of high-intensity exercise (soccer) with particular reference to fatigue. Journal of Sports Sciences, 15, 257-263.

Reilly, T., y Gregson, W. (2006). Special populations: The referee and assistant referee. Journal of sports sciences, 24 (7), 795-801.

Reina-Gómez, A. y Hernández-Mendo, A. (2012). Revisión de indicadores de rendimiento en fútbol. Revista Iberoamericana de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y el Deporte. 1 (1), 1-14.

Rodríguez-Salazar, M. C. y Salazar-Rojas, W. (2002). Relación entre decisiones arbitrales y variables deportivas en el fútbol profesional de Costa Rica. Revista de Ciencias del Ejercicio y la Salud, 2 (2), 50-61.

Schweizer, G., Plessner, H., Kahlert, D., & Brand, R. (2011). A video-based training method for improving soccer referees' intuitive decision-making skills. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 23 (4), 429-442.

Thomas, J. y Nelson, J. (2001). Research methods in physical activity. Human Kinetics. Champaign, Illinois.

Unkelbach, C., y Memmert, D. (2008). Game management, context effects, and calibration: The case of yellow cards in soccer. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 30 (1), 95.

Weston, M., Helsen, W., MacMahon, C., & Kirkendall, D. (2004). The impact of specific high-intensity training sessions on football referees' fitness levels. The American journal of sports medicine, 32 (1), 54-61.

Weston, M., Drust, B., & Gregson, W. (2011). Intensities of exercise during match-play in FA Premier League referees and players. Journal of sports sciences, 29 (5), 527-532.


Copyright (c) 2017 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.