Decision Coach Review for Officials

Cricket umpire signalling a wide ball
Author:  Dr. Damian Farrow, Skill Acquisition, Australian Institute of Sport
Issue: Volume 5 Number 2

A topical issue in umpiring or officiating is how an official’s decision-making skill can be improved. A key limitation for many is that they have limited opportunities to practise their decision-making skills in a competition setting. However, research over the last decade has highlighted that aspects of decision-making skill can be developed out of the competition environment through interactive video-based approaches.

With the above in mind, Champion Data and the Australian Institute of Sport completed a collaborative research project, funded by the Telstra Broadband Development Fund. The outcome of this project was Decision Coach, an online vision-based program that integrates a sound pedagogical approach with some of the latest measurement and training techniques available for the development of decision making.

Knowledge: a key component of decision-making

Advanced knowledge about the rules of a game and how the game is typically played in terms of its attacking or defensive patterns is a key component of decision-making skill. Declarative knowledge is one’s knowledge of a rule book and is obviously critical for any official. However, equally important is procedural knowledge, or being able to apply the declarative knowledge in a competitive situation. Decision Coach is aimed at developing this knowledge. Featuring an interactive response and scoring system, it can easily be customised and applied for officials from all sports via an authoring Kit.

How Does Decision Coach Work?

Decision Coach is the coupling of interactive vision challenges, response modes and scoring feedback. Put simply it’s a computer game that can be customised to sport-specific decision-making demands. An official can choose to complete an assessment or training session under a specific theme and topic. For example, an AFL umpire may complete a session focused on interpreting and applying the ‘in the back' rule.

A training or assessment session comprises a sequence of exercises. Each exercise is a combination of a selected vision clip linked to a sequence of decision-making challenges and responses. A standard challenge is a single answer response, but this is usually coupled with other response modes such as multi-choice answers, reaction time measures and pattern recall responses. All of these response modes are designed so that the official has to firstly access their declarative knowledge of the rules and then quickly recognise from the situations visually displayed, what the correct interpretation should be (that is, use their procedural knowledge).

During a training session, an official has the option of referring to coaching tips and receiving immediate scoring feedback. After completing a session the official’s results and progress reports are displayed and stored for later comparison. This information is designed so that an individual official can interact one-on-one with 'the coach' or compete with fellow officials.


In summary, because Decision Coach is web-based, it is ideal for officials who only get to apply their skills once a week in a competition setting. While this product will never be a replacement for making decisions on the field, it’s a valuable off-field complement that’s simple to use, challenging, and fun for officials of all skill levels.

To find out more about Decision Coach, go to

No results were found