Becoming a Better Referee

If you're already a certified AYSO referee... Great! 

This page has suggestions for things you can do to become a better referee.  Of course, not all of these are for everyone.  Some folks help out for a year or so when their kids are young and then drop out; other folks take up soccer refereeing as a serious hobby, because it's fun!  Most are somewhere in between.  But all of us, while we are refereeing, will enjoy it more and do a better job for the kids if we improve our skills some.  This page has some ideas for how to do that. 

Follow them as far as your energy and enthusiasm keeps them fun for you.

Activities you can do to improve your refereeing:

  • attend a refereeing class -- maybe even upgrade
  • arrange to be mentored in your refereeing skills
  • read the Laws
  • read a book or watch a video about refereeing
  • watch some good soccer, live or on TV
  • work on your fitness for refereeing

Get Mentored
Experienced referees often make themselves available to observe other referees during a game and give them helpful constructive feedback.  This is a great way to receive good coaching, learn new techniques, become more aware of different aspects of the game and your role in it, and improve your performance as a referee.  We are trying to expand and improve our Mentoring Program.  If you would like to mentor or be mentored, or have suggestions on what we can do to help you improve as a referee, contact the Regional Referee Mentor.

Watch some Good Soccer
Go and watch a local team: San Jose EarthquakesStanford Women's SoccerStanford Men's Soccer or games on TV 

Improve your Fitness
Referees run!  We run to follow play so as to be well-positioned to see what is happening and to intervene when necessary.  The more easily we can do this, the better we will be able to call the game.  For the very youngest age groups, this is no problem at all.  But it gets harder as the players (and the referees!) get older.  Sooner or later (and it really ought to be sooner), most of us will need to work on our fitness.  Of course, many of us already have fitness programs of some sort.  And, for most of us, a simple, light (but regular!) exercise regime that includes light running will easily do what's needed. 

Now's the time to redeem that New Year's resolution -- start a gentle workout regime now, so you can outrun the kids in the Fall!

Classes and Clinics
Clinics provide a great way to refresh, reinforce and extend your knowledge of the Laws and refereeing.  They are one of the very few places where you can bring all those questions that puzzle you and get answers.  The Region (and the surrounding units of AYSO) provides classes and clinics for all levels of referees.  Consult the clinic schedule for details, time and places.  

Upgrade to the Next Level 
Some clinics are designed to prepare you to upgrade your referee badge
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • National
If you have held your current badge for a year or so, and particularly if you plan to start refereeing older players soon, we highly recommend that you upgrade to the next level badge. Referees must be certified as shown in the table below.  Referees start each age group at the minimal level and upgrade before they move up to the next age group. 

Referee badge level by player age
Player AgeMinimalIdeal
Over 14IntermediateNational
U7/U8U8 OfficialU8 Official
 U5/U6 N/A N/A

Upgrading helps to make you a better referee -- especially, because it will expose you to the issues that will be of concern with older players.  It will challenge you to polish your knowledge of the Laws, and it will give you a chance to get formally observed doing a game by a more experienced referee who can help you to improve your skills and enjoyment of the game.  If you might be interested in upgrading, plan on attending an upgrade clinic and get in touch with the Regional Referee Administrator or Referee Mentor who will be happy to guide you through the process.