Impact of psychological and physical load on the decision-making of top-class handball referees

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Referees are challenged for accurate decision-making under physical and psychological load. However, erroneous decision-making can lead referees to repeatedly negatively think about the error, i.e. they begin to ruminate. Previous studies focused on the relationship between decision-making and either physical or psychological load. Here, we examined the combined impact of physical and psychological load on top-class handball referees’ decision-making. N = 73 referees performed the Yo-Yo Test for Referees combined with psychological load induced through instantaneous feedback on the decisions to activate the referees’ rumination-trait, i.e. to test if low and high ruminating referees respond differently to load and feedback. Results indicate no effects of physical load on decision accuracy (i.e. foul vs. no foul), but referees’ reasonings accuracy (i.e. type of foul, punishment) decreased under medium external load. Moreover, low and high ruminating referees did statistically not differ in decision and reasoning accuracy. Results indicate that physical load may not affect decisions, but might affect reasonings. Thus, subsequent studies should incorporate decisions and reasonings in handball referees, especially against the background of referee’s development. For practitioners, the Yo-Yo Test for Referees seems a beneficial tool through the combination of physical likewise psychological load and a rule test in handball.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)352-369
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 04.05.2022

ID: 6576144

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