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FAQ about RefereesPrintable

Why is there such an emphasis on getting adults to referee?
Do parents referee their own child's games?
How are games assigned?
How much are referees paid?

How many games does a referee have to do?
Our team has found somebody to ref, but they can't get to our class. Now what?
Is it hard? I have some adults considering becoming a referee, but they are nervous.
The adults I've been talking to are concerned they may not be fit enough to be a referee. How much running is involved?

None of my parents have ever played. How can they be a referee?
Isn't there online study or something to reduce the amount of classroom time required?
What are the precise training requirements?
What is the difference between EKCSRA and EYSA referees?

We've been hearing about a referee shortage for years, but games keep getting covered. Is this a "made up" crisis?



Why is there such an emphasis on getting adults to referee? To be clear, EYSA welcomes the opportunity to work with young people, age 13 or older, as referees. Many of these youth make excellent officials. However, history tells us that 97+% of those who are officials at age 13 will quit before they are 18, with most of those quitting before they are 15. Experience also tells us that the majority of adults who try being a referee will stay with it, at least while their children are playing. This gives these adults a chance to learn skills over multiple years and become good referees. In fact, there is a notable percent of these adults who take up being an official as a hobby and continue even after their children stop playing. While being a referee is not for everyone, many adults discover that they actually enjoy it, once they get past the initial nervousness that comes with learning anything new. Even if an adult never does an advanced level game, the continuity they bring to the program helps improve the overall quality of officiating we deliver.

Do parents referee their own child's games? No. It is important that a "neutral" party be the referee for games. Therefore, you referee games other than your own child's. Similarly, if you are a youth, you do not referee the game of your brother, sister, cousin, etc. You may step in to be an "emergency" referee if one does not show up for your child's game, but this sometimes awkward situation is to be avoided, if possible.

How are games assigned? Games are self-assigned. You choose the games you want to do from the list of available matches. This is done electronically via the internet. The assigning system is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. That way, you can work around YOUR schedule, both in terms of when/where you sign up for games and in choosing the games you want to ref. Younger youth matches are played on Saturday. For those officiating for EKCSRA, youth matches are played almost any day of the week, with the majority on Saturday and Sunday

How much are referees paid? Pay for EYSA games ranges from $15 to $35 per game, depending on age and session. In addition, if a person refs 10 games for EYSA, EYSA will pay a bonus of $100 for each 10 games in the fall. Officials for older and more competitive matches, such as those assigned by EKCSRA, may earn up to $60 per match. The total amount a referee may earn in a year varies widely.

How many games does a referee have to do? To meet a team's obligation to provide a "Ref-in-Pool", the referee must officiate 10+ matches for EKCSRA. If you are not a "Ref-in-Pool", there is no requirement.

Our team has found somebody to ref, but they can't get to an EYSA sponsored class. Now what? Send them to the WAReferee web site.-> Links can be found to other referee clinics near EYSA and across the state. A new referee may attend ANY "Grade 8 ELC (Entry Level Clinic)" offered in Washington. They need not attend a clinic sponsored by EYSA. Classes are offered almost every month at some Eastside location during the summer.

Is it hard? I have some adults considering becoming a referee, but they are nervous. Being a referee is like any new skill. It will get easier the more you practice that skill. A new referee is assigned initially to U08-U11 matches or are assigned to assistant referees positions on U11 to U12 games. The kids in these matches are very cooperative and will go along with any decision you make. The number of rules you must remember is small. This makes being a referee for those ages easy and fun. The sidelines are somewhat less forgiving, but we have found that our new adult referees generally have few problems. Soccer is a very "logical" game and we find that a mature person can apply common sense and be very successful as a referee very quickly.

The adults I've been talking to are concerned they may not be fit enough to be a referee. How much running is involved? It is important for a new referee to consider the level of match they will be officiating when asking this question. A new referee for a U08-U11 match needs to be able to move freely, jog occasionally, and feel comfortable making decisions. They should also be willing to study a little to improve themselves as the need presents itself. This is the age level that most referees begin with. Any adult that practices a "moderate" level of activity will easily be able to keep up with these players. It is true that referees of older and more competitive matches need to be fit enough to jog for a good 90 minutes. For a U17+ premier level match, that can easily equate to four to five miles of workout and really only those referees with a "significant" level of activity should be officiating those games. HOWEVER, that level of effort is only for experienced referees on the most competitive matches. The new referee is not assigned to such matches, and would not assign themselves to such matches until they feel they are ready, and their assignor sees that they are ready.

None of my parents have ever played. How can they be a referee? Player skills and officiating skills are two completely different skill sets. It is helpful for a referee to have been a player so they can empathize with what the player is experiencing. However, being a player does not necessarily mean you know the rules or how to officiate. That is what we teach you in class. Many people have actually become a referee and found they enjoyed the game so much they went out and joined an "over-something" age league to try playing.

Isn't there online study or something to reduce the amount of classroom time required? Beginning in 2012, the US Soccer Federation has changed the clinic structure. Now the first half of the Grade 8 ELC (Entry Level Clinic) is online. The classroom time is now only about 6 hours with an addition 2 hour allocated for taking a test and registering.

What are the precise training requirements? The US Soccer Federation has different "levels" or "Grades" of license. The highest level of license is a Grade 1, "International Referee". A referee begins their career as a Grade 8 "Referee". A description of each of these levels is:

  • Grade 8, Referee: required to be eligible to officiate in any youth match at any level. In order to become a Grade 8 referee, you must complete an online course (about 3 hours) and an 8-hour classroom clinic, pass a 100 question examination, and pay an annual fee to register with the USSF.
Note that the above are the minimum levels required for being an official in the level of match indicated. Referee skill is assessed by an "assignor", who considers the experience of a referee and determines what level of match a referee is ready to officiate. Thus, a brand new Grade 8 referee may have learned all the rules that they need to officiate a U18 Premier match, but an assignor would not allow them to be assigned to such a match until they had a history of doing other younger matches that demonstrated they were ready for the higher level match.

EYSA require 13 year old referees begin officiating U08-U09 recreational games. We also strongly recommend 14 year old referees begin with U08-U09 recreational games as well. EKCSRA will not accept referees under 14 years old.

What is the difference between EKCSRA and EYSA referees? Throughout this article and in various web sites, you may see references to EKCSRA. This is the "East King County Soccer Referee Association". EKCSRA assigns referees to adult, collegiate, and many higher level youth matches. They also assign referees for many leagues, including youth, which may not be large enough to have a referee training program. In the case of EYSA, we contract with EKCSRA to provide referees for all Select, Premier and U13+ recreational matches. Doing so gives us access to a much larger pool of experienced referees than we would have if we used only "in house" referees. Because of the level of matches supported by EKCSRA, people taking assignments from EKCSRA should have more experience and be willing to accept the challenges that come from more competitive matches. Beginning referees in EKCSRA are normally assigned the role of "assistant referee" (on the line) so that the unique challenges of match management on higher level games can be dealt with by a more experienced referee. EYSA and other associations typically have their own referee programs for younger youth games. These are ideal training grounds for new referees, as referee mentors are more widely available to deal with the issues facing "beginner" referees. In general, referees are FAR more successful if they can spend at least one season, preferably two, working in an association setting. This gives them an opportunity to practice decision-making and referee technique in an environment in which support is more readily available to them. Organizations like EKCSRA are more focused on promoting referees to higher levels, and their mentoring and assistance programs are directed accordingly. EKCSRA expects a referee in their organization to have sound "fundamentals", though our current shortage of referees causes all referee organizations to be more flexible.

We've been hearing about a referee shortage for years, but games keep getting covered. Is this a "made up" crisis? It is true that referee organizations have been proclaiming a shortage for years, and it is true that a very high percentage of matches continue to be covered each year, especially in the Puget Sound area. But soccer becomes more and more popular each year. In the "Eastside" area, coverage has been accomplished by taking advantage of technology, which allows referees to be assigned very efficiently (as opposed to the old telephone tree methods used) and by a large pool of adults, many recruited in the late 1980's and early 1990's, that continue to referee long after their children have stopped playing. Many of these referees have begun to retire. The hoped for plan of having youth referees grow up with the program has not been successful, as youth quit and don't return. Therefore, as our older referees retire, there is nobody moving up to replace them and shortages are beginning to occur in some places. EKCSRA has a long history of very high levels of coverage, but fell short of their goals for the first time in 2005. Their coverage rate was about 93%, still excellent compared with many parts of the state that had coverage levels as low as 65%. The pipeline of referees for EKCSRA is very near empty, and additional shortages can be expected this year, unless new referees, in particular new ADULT referees, are recruited to refill that pipeline immediately.

Last Updated March 9, 2014