ID Organization Name Type
102452 gpboa Other

So you want to be a referee

Wednesday, December 08, 2010
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So you want to be a referee!


Physical Requirements

A referee must be in good physical and mental shape. In an average high school game, a referee may run three to five miles. An awareness of the entire playing field is very important. Quick reactions, decisions and speed are advantages. As the ages of the players increase, so does the speed in which the game is played and competitiveness of the players.  Good officials have a good knowledge of the rules, a good fail for the game and how to manage it from the time they enter the gym to the time they exit.



Most of your training is done through lectures, demonstration and exercises on the basic rules and mechanics while attending meetings, clinics and on the field of play. Officials can also participate in referee camps during the summer to hone their skills and seek advance.


Equipment Needed

Long black Pants or gym shorts

Black-White stripe shirt or Grey Shirt

Black sneakers and socks

Whistle and Lanyard

Rule and Officials Manuals



There maybe cost associated with joining a local, regional or national officials association. A new official should be cognizant of any such fees or dues before joining or receiving game assignments. These organizations require you to register with them and they charge a fee, which goes toward training and insurance. The state associations will usually provided rule books and other materials. Most fees range from $10-$75 at the high school level while the college level can range up to $200.00.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) that regulates all statewide sports requires yearly dues.


Looking for Help?

The best thing to do is ask a veteran official to be your mentor. He/she will be able to answer your questions and provide the support you need to better yourself. Be sure to discuss rules and situations with your mentor.


Annual Requirements

Different organizations have different requirements. Most organizations make it mandatory to attend a rules interpretation meeting. Some organizations require you to pass a written test, pay dues and attend a certain number of meetings through out the season.


How to Move Up?

The place to start officiating is the independent youth level. Local CYO League, Recreation Centers and In-House leagues is a great place to start. This is where you can make mistakes because everyone is in the learning process. At this level is where you obtain a good foundation for officiating. Call your parish, school’s AD or Rec Ctr for more details. I would suggest not work any Men’s Rec Leagues as the game is quicker and more competitive and not conducive for learning nor making the decision that refereeing is what you want to do!

Once you gain some experience, you may join one of the scholastic organizations such as (PIAA) The Pennsylvania Inter-scholastic Athletic Association or The International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO) in order to obtain game assignments during the winter. The athleticism and quickness of the player’s increases as the age and level of the games does. 

Many veteran officials will direct you to the organizations that govern the high schools in your area. Be sure to contact the state association in your area for further information.

Many of the referee camps and clinics are focused on helping officials learn and improve their game.

The National Federation of High School Associations is the nation's governing body for high school sports.

For those interested in officiating at the collegiate level, you may need to decide whether you are going to work Men’s or Women’s games. Once you make your decide, you apply for membership in either the (CBOA) Collegiate Board of Officials Men) or (MAWCBOA) Mid-Atlantic Women’s Collegiate Board Officials Association (Women’s).  Both associations assign entry level collegiate games (Junior College and Division III). Those seeking to work Division II or I have to be hired by the conference supervisor. You usually have to attend their recognition or invitational tryout camps from which officials are hired. This process is highly competitive. Officials who reach this level have obtained many years of experience. When first applying to enter a particular conference, discuss your goals with your mentor, current assignor or supervisor and speak with officials who currently work the conference to get a better understanding of process.

And finally the Pros! Don't think you have to be a top-level official to become a professional official. Some experience is required, however, it would be unlikely that a person with minimum experience would be considered as a NBA candidate. Many NBA officials have had at least 5 years of experience officiating scholastic games prior to applying for the pros.  A prospective official would attend once the several Pro Camps nationally for possible recognition of their talent to be considered as a possible candidate in the CBA where officials are developed for a possible opportunity to be hired at the PRO level. There are also security checks into the official's background along with an interviewed and a test on the rules.



You are an independent contractor. You solicit your services to assignors/supervisors, schools, coaches, fans, players and league administrators. Solicitation of games is not by gratuities, bribery or some other payment. It is by your dedication, work ethic, knowledge and application of the rules and most important your appearance as an official. Remember PERCEPTION isn’t the only thing, it’s EVERYTHING!

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