The current study examined the physical and decision-making requirements of elite Australian football umpires during match play. Twenty-nine field umpires were assessed across 20 Australian Football League matches. Physical demands were monitored using global positioning system devices to record the total distance covered and high-speed running (HSR; >14.4 km[middle dot]h-1) demands across each quarter. Decision-making performance was assessed via video by three elite umpire coaches who reviewed free kick accuracy during each match. These data were further analyzed according to the position (mid-zone or end-zone) of the umpire when each decision was made. The average distance covered was 10,563 +/- 608 m, of which 1952 +/- 494 m was HSR. Significant reductions in distance covered were observed during the third (p=0.006) and fourth (p=0.001) quarters, compared to the first. An average of 44 +/- 8 free kicks awarded per match with a decision accuracy of 84 +/- 6%; however, there were no significant differences (p>0.05) in these measures across a match. Significantly (p<0.05) higher physical (HSR; relative distance) and decision-making requirements were observed within the mid-zone. The current data quantifies the physical and decision-making demands of Australian football umpiring, and demonstrated that despite a high physical workload, free kick accuracy is maintained across a match. This suggests that decision-making may not be directly compromised by the intermittent running demands of Australian football umpires. Positional rotations between the mid-zone and end-zone position allow for the demands to be shared amongst all field umpires during a match.
Copyright (C) 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.