Exploring the use of think aloud within Women's artistic gymnastics judging education

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Gymnastics is a judgement-based sport whereby the decision-making processes of judges are expected to lead to valid and reliable outcome scores. The concurrent Think Aloud method has been used to study decision-making amongst coaches and athletes in previous sport-related studies but never in judging-based studies. Hence, this project has two aims: 1) to explore decision-making underpinning the judging process in Women's Artistic Gymnastic (WAG) by using a concurrent verbal report, Think Aloud (TA) and: 2) to examine the utilisation of TA as a means to facilitate judging education with Malaysian WAG judges. 10 qualified judges were required to verbalise (TA) their thought processes whilst judging a balance beam routine. Follow-up interviews investigated the prospective utilisation of TA within judging education. During the judging process participants verbally reported most frequently as to lack of balance, bending of arms and knees, pointing of feet, confidence, rhythm and tempo, and personal style as focal points for scoring. Overall TA was reported prospectively as an appropriate tool for use within judging education, however, some participants reported performance in the primary task of judging was affected by TA. Study outcomes reported the potential utility of TA to study the decision-making process amongst judges to enable deduction scores to be applied objectively. This study will inform future research to investigate the decision-making processes of both expert and novice judging extending to that of all four WAG apparatus.

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