Jade Werger MA Thesis Defence

Title: “Decision-Making in Ice Hockey Referees: Officiating Style and the Accurate Detection of Penalties”

Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Shannon Bredin (Kinesiology)
Committee members: Dr. Darren Warburton (Kinesiology), Dr. Carolyn McEwen (Kinesiology)
Chair: Dr. Eli Puterman (Kinesiology)

Abstract: Examining officiating in ice hockey has received limited attention, particularly in the area of decision-making at the grassroots, minor ice hockey level. The primary purpose of this research was to create a video tool from hockey game footage and examine minor hockey official’s decision-making in the context of officiating style and experience. Minor hockey officials possessing three levels of officiating experience: (1) 1 y (n = 10), (2) 2 to 4 y (n = 13), and (3) 5 to 9 y (n=10) completed a Video-Based Infraction Detection Task. Referees were shown video clips of potential penalty scenarios from female AAA Bantam and Midget hockey games, according to four conditions: (1) No Information, Randomized (NR); (2) No Information, Sequential (IS); (3) Information, Randomized (IR); and (4) Information, Sequential (IS). Specifically, referees received game information (e.g., score) or no game information prior to clip viewing; and the clips were presented randomly or in the sequential order that they occurred during game play. After viewing each clip, referees were asked to determine whether or not an infraction occurred. The accuracy of the referee’s detection performance was calculated using Signal Detection Theory. A 3 (group) x 4 (condition) ANOVA, with repeated measures on the last factor, revealed that all officials performed similarly on the detection task irrespective of experience. A main effect was found for condition, F (3,90) = 40.0, p = .000 and post-hoc comparisons showed superior accuracy in the IR condition (81.8% ± 1.4), followed by the IS condition (74.3% ± 1.5), NS condition (68.5% ± 1.4), and NR condition (60.0% ± 2.2). These findings suggest that game information was used to bring the referees attentional focus to the task, as well as put the referee into the context of the game resulting in superior performance for detecting an infraction. The data is discussed in the context of using video-based protocols for training hockey referees at the grassroots level of officiating. This work also provides future directions and recommendations for the development of video scenarios for referee training, including the incorporation of common stressors identified by minor hockey officials across experience levels.