FAQ: How Do I Become A Soccer Referee?

All You Need to Know to Get Started

Last Updated: 3/3/2011

WHY BECOME A REFEREE?

1. Earn money working in a sport you enjoy. Yes, that’s right. We said you can earn money!

2. Become more knowledgeable about the Laws of the Game. Did you know that the official rules of soccer are called ‚”The Laws of the Game,” and that the Soccer Laws used in youth soccer are the very same Laws used by the professionals with only a few minor exceptions?

3. Learning all the ins and outs of these Laws will help you to appreciate the game much more and make you a better player (or coach).

4. It’s a great first job. Refereeing teaches commitment and professionalism ‚Äì while being fun at the same time. (And did we mention the part about making money?)

5. Adult referees are always in demand. It’s a wonderful way to give something back to the community and to your home soccer association.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

ANYONE CAN BECOME A SOCCER REFEREE. SYSA HAS THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES:

1. Must be at least 14 years of age by the time you referee your first match. (Those on a U13 – U14 team can start out referring U6 and U7 matches as part of SYSA’s Referee-In-Training program. See the next section below for more info.)

2. Should be in good health, and fit enough to keep up with the players

3. Must enjoy the game of soccer!

WHAT ARE THE CLASS REQUIREMENTS?

REFEREE-IN-TRAINING PROGRAM FOR U6 AND U7 MATCHES

For those on a U13 or U14 team, SYSA has a Referee-In-Training program for youth entry-level referees. This is being provided as an alternative to the more demanding class described below. Click here for more information about the SYSA Referee-In-Training program. (Returning Referee-In-Training referees are not required to re-take the class or attend field training.) Check the SYSA Referee Corner Home Page before the start of each season for the latest information about Ref-I-T classroom and field training.

CERTIFICATION PROGRAM FOR U8 AND OLDER MATCHES

For those 14 and older interested in the full referee training:

1. The cost of the class is $65. Parents can use this class as an opportunity to encourage responsibility and commitment, for example, by advancing the class fee in whole or in part to be paid back later. After all, taking a training to learn a new skill or to prepare for a new job is good preparation for life in the adult world.

2. Time commitment. Classes are typically about 17 hours in duration, spread over several weekday evenings and a weekend afternoon. All sessions are mandatory.

3. Attend with the intent to learn. A lot of information is covered in a short amount of time. A serious and attentive attitude towards learning can go a long way towards passing the final exam and being prepared to work games.

4. Pass the final exam. To become certified, you must pass a final exam with at least a 75%. Upon passing your final exam, you will be issued your certification and your ‚ÄúReferee Patch”. Congratulations! You are now certified to work as Center Referee (CR) and as an Assistant Referee (AR).

HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR A CLASS?

YOU MUST REGISTER ONLINE TO ATTEND A CLASS!

Class listings and online registration are available at the Metro DC-Virginia State Referee Program (MDCVSRP) website at: http://www.vadcsoccerref.com/.

For a comprehensive list of classes, click on ‚ÄúClinic Listing”. At the Type drop down box, select ‚ÄúNew Referee”. Locate the ‚ÄúGrade 8″ or “Grade 9″ class that is most convenient for you (see “About Referee Grades” below.) For more details about the class, click on the ‚ÄúNew Referee” link on the left side of the listing.

To register, return to the home MDCVSRP homepage, and click on ‚ÄúOnline Registration”, or follow the directions posted on their homepage — it changes with each season.

If you have questions about the registration process, you can contact Carol Schaeffer at the email address and toll-free number provided at the very bottom of the MDCVSRP home page.

Be sure to print out the Certificate of Registration when prompted, and bring that printout to class.

ABOUT REFEREE CERTIFICATION GRADES

Referee certifications are defined by ‚Äúgrade levels”. (Note: Referee grades are not related to what grade you are in school. In other words, “Grade 8″ does not mean you have to be in the “8th grade” to take the class.)
There are two different classes usually available for New Referees: one for Grade 8 certification and one for Grade 9 certification.

Grade 9 classes are a little bit cheaper and shorter (8-10 hours) in duration than those for Grade 8 (16-18 hours), and the exam is only 50 questions (vs. 100 for Grade 8). However, Grade 9 certified referees can only work as Center Referee for recreational league games through U-14, and act as Assistant Referee for any games (including non-recreation) through U-14. Grade 8 referees to do not have these restrictions. Later, to upgrade to Grade 8 from Grade 9, an additional class is required.

Click here to read the US Soccer Definitions of Referee Grades.

Because we believe that the additional class time is worth it, SYSA prefers that new referees obtain the Grade 8 certification right from the start. Nonetheless, Grade 9 referees will be given equal opportunities to referee at the age levels for which they’re certified.

(Note: There is also a Grade 12 certification which limits the referee to only work as Assistant Referee for all games, but must be 17 years old to AR adult games.)

WHERE DO I BUY THE UNIFORM AND EQUIPMENT?

All referees are required to purchase their own uniform and equipment (just like for jobs in real life!)

The cost of the basic referee uniform and equipment is in the neighborhood of $75. You can purchase these items at a soccer shop, such as Sterling Soccer (in the “clock tower” shopping center off of Route 7 in Sterling), or shop online for good deals. The Metro DC-Virginia State Referee Program used to have an arrangement with Sports, Etc. for an inexpensive kit, but that’s been discontinued. Sports, Etc., however, still offers a starter kit for $75 that might be worth looking at. They can be found at http://www.soccer-referee.com/.

Other online vendors offering package deals are:

http://www.law5.com/

http://www.scoresports.com/

http://www.soccerone.com/

http://www.officialsports.com/

http://www.fold-a-goal.com/

If you Google on “soccer equipment”, you’ll find links for a good number of other online sources that you can use for price comparison.

BASIC UNIFORM

  • Yellow short sleeve soccer referee shirt with a Velcro patch system on the left pocket.
  • Black referee shorts.
  • Black thigh-length referee socks (with the three white stripes at the top)
  • Black cleats or turf shoes

BASIC EQUIPMENT

  • Whistle, with or without a lanyard
  • Wrist stop-watch
  • Flags (set of two)
  • Referee cards: yellow and red
  • Combination card holder and score book
  • Game sheets (sold in a pad)

ADDITIONAL RECOMMEND ITEMS

For more information, see the SYSA’s Referee Uniform Requirements and Purchase Options document (also available via the Referee Corner homepage.)

HOW AM I ASSIGNED TO GAMES?

The Role of the Game Assignor

Every soccer league and association has an Assignor, an individual responsible for making sure that games have referees. More than that though, the Assignor makes sure that the right referee is matched up to the right game. Being assigned to the right game allows a referee to gain experience at a comfortable rate, grow in confidence, and remain excited about the job. As referees become more accomplished, the Assignor (with the help of the Referee Mentor) works with them to make sure they move up to the next higher age group or level of play.

THE ASSIGNOR HAS THE LAST SAY ON ALL ASSIGNMENTS.

Levels of Play

Currently, the SYSA Game Assignor is responsible for providing referees for the following games (a total of about 65 games a week):

All SYSA Recreation Junior League games ‚ U6 through U10

Home games for Suburban Friendship League (SFL) ‚ U11 through U19

How games are assigned in SYSA

Currently, SYSA uses an online self-assignment system. Upon request, a new referee is granted an ID and password, giving them access into the system. Referees are then free to click on the games they wish to work. Certain limits are placed upon self-assignments to make sure that referees select only those games for which they are approved. (To request your ID and password, contact SYSA’s Referee Mentor at sysa_ref_mentor@verizon.net.

Game Limits

Referees can assign themselves to as many games as they want. However, a referee who takes on too many games may find that his or her on-field performance will begin to suffer due to fatigue — both mental and physical. Therefore, the Assignor has the authority to set limits at his or her discretion.

The Assignor may also reduce the number of games self-assigned by one referee out of fairness to others who wish similar game-level opportunities.

Turn-Backs and No Shows

When a referee cancels from a game it is called a ‚Äúturn-back”. A referee who fails to show up for an assigned game is a ‚Äúno show”. No shows and unexcused turn-backs may cause a referee to be barred from further game assignments.

Working for other Soccer Associations

Your Referee Certification is good everywhere! So, there is nothing to prevent you from taking games from an Assignor in another soccer association, provided you abide by that association’s policies.

HOW DO I GET PAID… AND HOW MUCH?

How much? Check the Referee Corner page for the most up to date pay scale.

Frequency of Payment: In SYSA, referees receive pay checks twice per season: once during the mid-season referee meeting, and again within 2 weeks following the final games of the season.

HOW DO I IMPROVE MY SKILLS?

It is in everyone’s interest to see our referees improve and take on new challenges. Young referees in particular want to move up the pay scale, and SYSA needs experienced refs at matches involving older and more competitive teams.

Mentoring Program

SYSA is proud to have an active Mentoring Program. Features of this program include:

  • Providing practice games to gain confidence before the first game
  • Unofficial ‚”assessments” to ensure the referee is doing the right things
  • Online resources to get answers to questions about the Laws
  • Assistance with moving up the ladder to more challenging games

After demonstrating responsibility in handling commitments and working a good number of games effectively at the proscribed levels, with the Mentor’s approval, the Assignor will allow the referee to self-assign themselves to older matches.

Note to adult referees: Although SYSA doesn’t put many restrictions on the games they choose to work, adult refs are nonetheless highly urged to advance themselves at a realistic pace.

Mid-season meeting

About half-way through the season, the SYSA Mentor and Assignor will meet with SYSA referees to distribute checks and to discuss how the season’s been going. Issues of concern and recommendations for improvement will be discussed. Pizza, soda and door prizes are usually provided.

Annual re-certification

Every year, it is necessary for referees to re-certify. It’s a great opportunity for referees to re-commit themselves to their understanding of the Laws of the Game. A referee has to have the current or next year’s patch before they can work games. (If you decide to take a break from refereeing, you can skip two years before you will have to re-take the initial class all over again.)

Re-cert classes for the year usually start appearing the summer before. The registration process is similar to what’s described above for new referees. SYSA will try to have 1-2 re-certification classes in the Sterling area each year.

SYSA will post class information on its website as well as send out emails to our referee distribution list.

Books and Resources online

Check out SYSA’s Referee Resources link for a list of reading materials and online resources that can be used for on-going learning on one’s own.

HOW FAR CAN I GO?

In addition to moving up the ranks of SYSA sponsored games, a referee has many other opportunities to find well-paying work in USSF and VYSA sanctioned leagues and events. Information will soon be provided on SYSA’s Referee Corner homepage. But here are a few examples:

Tournaments

Once certified, a referee will start receiving opportunities in the mail or by email to work tournaments. Although we don’t recommend that new referees jump right in without first working a fair number of ‚Äúeasier” recreation games, tournament work is a wonderful goal to strive for.

All Star Tournaments (featuring the best players from the recreation league) are easier than Travel League Tournaments, and therefore are good places to start tournament work.

Travel Leagues

In addition to the ODSL (Old Dominion Soccer League) games that are assigned by SYSA, there are two other local travel leagues that are in need of referees:

NCSL — National Capital Soccer League

WAGS — Washington Area Girls Soccer

These games can be very challenging and are not recommended for the young referee or a referee with only a minimum of experience.

And Beyond

Adult Amateur Leagues, Semi-pro Leagues, Professional… MLS, National… International… the World Cup…

There is no limit as to how far up the ranks a young referee can go. The USSF (United States Soccer Federation), working through state-wide organizations has a standardized system of certification and training. It is not unheard of for a young referee to find themselves one day working in national or international matches.

Allit takes is fitness, hard work, desire and commitment.

MORE QUESTIONS? WHO DO I CONTACT?

If you have questions about the registration process,

Contact Carol Schaeffer at the email address and toll-free number provided at the bottom of the Metro DC-Virginia State Referee Program (MDCVSRP) home page at: http://www.vadcsoccerref.com/.

All other questions about the Sterling Youth Soccer Referee Program may be sent to:

SYSA Referee Mentor: sysa_ref_mentor@verizon.net

SYSA Referee Coordinator: sysa.ref@verizon.net