Referee Recruiting and Retention


Referee Recruiting and Retention

by Said Sanhoury, USIndoor Director of Officials

Every facility manager knows that the ability to manage and maintain quality referees will not only make his or her job easier and a lot less stressful, but that doing so is good for business. While easier said than done, this article offers a few tips on where to start, along with some basic techniques for reducing turnover.

As with most businesses, the place to start recruiting is with those with whom you have a connection. For example, ex-players, players’ family members and word of mouth can render a number of good prospects. A visible posting on your facility’s own bulletin board will spread the word among your patrons. You can also send out feelers to local soccer and other referee associations, like local U.S. Soccer affiliates, your local chapter of NISOA (National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Assn.), as well as local basketball, hockey, baseball and football leagues. With a little thought, you may surprise yourself with all the resources you can come up with.

referee-1Depending on the market and your candidates’ experience, you may expect to pay from $10 to $20 per hour for referee services. USIndoor, along with your designated referee administrator, can handle the rest if you so desire. But don’t make the mistake of simply relying on outdoor referees to do the job you require without training them. Indoor soccer is not simply outdoor soccer played indoors. Besides the rules, important differences in officiating lie in mechanics and in relating with players and spectators, who occupy much tighter spaces compared to outdoor.

Once you have successfully assembled your corps of referees, you will next need to think about retention. Fulfilling the promises you made to attract them will be most important, but demonstrating a sincere desire to assist their development is critical, too, especially for younger referees. Some turnover is inevitable, and not everyone you hire will ultimately be cut out as an official. Nonetheless, you can affect the development of your referees through:

  • Mentoring: Pair your younger or less experienced referees with a mentor for advice and, when possible, to work games together.
  • Monthly Meetings: Your referee coordinator should schedule meetings to discuss rule changes, questions, current problems, scheduling and other administrative issues. At least some effort should be made, occasionally, to meet without the facility manager present.
  • Assignments: Be sure your assignor assigns each referee according to his or her skill level. When the referee is ready to advance, ensure a pairing with an experienced referee or mentor.
  • Assessments: Have mentors or your referee coordinator conduct periodic assessments. An Assessment Guide and form are available online via USIndoor’s Referee Members-Only page.

USIndoor is your resource for general refereeing needs. We have certified thousands of referees to date and are ready to support your program however possible. Write to for more.

This article is adapted from the October/November 2004 issue of GOAL Indoor. For more articles like this, visit our Members-Only Archives or learn more about membership.

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