Int J Sports Med 2011; 32(3): 190-194
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1269843
Training & Testing

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Variability of Soccer Referees’ Match Performances

M. Weston1 , B. Drust2 , G. Atkinson2 , W. Gregson2
  • 1Teesside University, Sport & Exercise Sciences, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
  • 2Liverpool John Moores University, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision November 09, 2010

Publication Date:
16 December 2010 (online)


The aim of the present study was to determine the between-match variability in soccer referees’ match performances. 1 269 individual match observations were undertaken on 59 referees (range 2–79 games per referee) officiating in the English Premier League and Championship from 2003/2004 to 2007/2008 using a computerised tracking system (Prozone®, Leeds, England). Between-match coefficients of variation (CV) were calculated for all games and then compared between referee age and experience groups. High mean CVs were observed for high-speed running distance (25.9±10.1%), recovery time (32.7±13.8%), explosive sprints (34.3±16.6%), total number of sprints (54.0±20.7%) and number of match fouls (28±4.6%). Smaller CVs were observed for total distance covered (3.8±1.5%), top sprinting speed (5.6±10.9%), distance from the ball (4.2±1.9%) and the distance from fouls (9.9±4.3%). Variability in match activities was not influenced by referee age or experience. The present study's findings demonstrate that variability in soccer referees’ match performances is high in some variables and not dependent on referee age or experience. Such variability means that research requires large sample sizes to detect real systematic changes in a number of performance characteristics when studied during matches.


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Dr. M. WestonSports Science BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD 

Teesside University

Sport & Exercise Sciences

School of Social Sciences & Law

TS1 3BA Middlesbrough

United Kingdom

Phone: +44/077/1374 0794

Fax: +44/077/1374 0794