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What Does a Youth Sports Referee Do?

Most competitive youth sports such as soccer, swimming, tennis, and basketball make use of referees. Being an official is more than knowing the rules and raising your arms after a touchdown. A youth sports referee is required to be present in the game, and they are responsible for the instruction, supervision, and officiating of the match. They ensure that players follow the rules of the game and treat each other fairly, handle disputes that may arise and handle pressure.

How Much Does a Youth Sports Referee Get Paid?

Referee officials typically work as independent contractors. If you start as a youth referee and fall in love with the role, your aim may be to rise through the different levels until you reach the highest level which is the professional level.

Pay varies based on the level you referee and sport, but it’s typically on a per-game basis. Youth leagues pay between $25 to $50. High school pays around $50 to $100. College games typically pay over $200 per game.

How Can I Get Started as a Youth Sports Referee?

Anyone who enjoys youth sports can pick up the whistle, but the job is not for lazy people. This work challenges you athletically, but also requires decisive thinking. The minimum age to start as a Youth sports referee is at least 16 years old.

1. The best way to become a youth referee is through approved boards which educate officials. You must be certified and every youth sports referee needs to attend and pass a referee’s course. You can find more information about these courses by clicking here. The way the system operates for beginner courses varies from association to association. If you aren’t sure of the organization that certifies referees in the sport you are interested in, attend games and ask coaches or referees.

2. Upon completion of the training course, the official will be considered an apprentice or trainee and will work with veteran officials for matches until properly evaluated. An examination is the culminating session of a referee training program. In some cases, you need to be re-certified as a youth sports referee periodically by taking an updated examination.

3. Next, you’ll have to obtain your license. Many sports associations require the trainee to pay a fee for a license as a youth sports referee. Once you’ve gone through training, it’s very likely that you’ll have a better idea about what these fees are and where to get your license.

4. Once you’ve become certified and gotten your license, you’ll need some equipment before you start. As a referee, you’ll be expected to wear a uniform that meets your sports association regulations. Also, you may need other items particular to your sport, which may include: Flags, Cards, a whistle, approved watch and much more.

5. Congrats, you’re officially a youth sports referee! Now that you have all of your certifications, a license, and the equipment, you can begin workng at different games yourself. To advance as a referee, you must usually have officiated a certain number of games, passed additional certification tests and attended regular rules clinics. Specific requirements can vary depending upon your sport.

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Helpful Resources

  • Naso.org:  This is a link to the National Association of Sporting Officials.  They’ll have a lot of information to help you become a referee.
  • Amazon.com:  This is where you can go to get all of your referee equipment.

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