Community Sport Officiating

Community Sport Officiating
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport, Australian Sports Commission
Last updated  Last updated by: 30 May 2017
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Community Sport Officiating
Australian Sports Commission


The effective delivery of community sport programs relies upon the recruitment, organisation, and ongoing development of three types of support personnel: technical officials, administrators, and coaches.  Technical officials (umpires, referees, judges, etc.) provide necessary guidance and support, so that players (i.e. active participants) and spectators can benefit from their sporting experience.

In all sports the role of an official will involve specific mental demands such as observation, interpretation of events, and decision making. Often a complex process of interpretation of rules and making the correct decision must be executed immediately. In most circumstances community sport officials must make their decisions without the use of video and other technologies to capture and evaluate events. Making correct judgements is part of the officiating process. Because in some sports an official must move with the players to correctly position him/herself to make judgements, there are also physical demands upon many officials, not unlike the demands on competitors.

A large body of research is available about the field of officiating, as well as the characteristics of officials. Some of this research is captured in the research and reading sections of this portfolio. 

Key Messages 


Officials have a key role in the management, delivery and effectiveness of sports programs.


Education, training, recognition and ongoing professional development of sports officials has been shown to improve their effectiveness.

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