By: John Hagenstein, NISOA Assistant Director of Assessment & National Referee Program (NRP) Assessment Study Chair


As part of the NISOA National Referee Program, all National Referees and National Referee Candidates are required to be assessed each year in order to maintain or receive their NISOA National Referee certification. These assessments, when reviewed, can provide feedback to NISOA as to the official’s capability while also providing the official with areas of adjustment and suggestions to improve their overall abilities.  Also, these assessments are used to assist assignors as to what level of game these referees may or may not be capable of officiating in regard to NCAA Soccer games.

All NRP assessments are to be sent to the NISOA NRP Study Chair who is asked to produce a report on the status of the NISOA National Referee Program and the 300+ National Referees based on these assessments.  This is the 3rd year of the report and this year there were 397 assessments that were submitted for analysis.

The report submitted provides a summary of the scores that the officials received in their assessments.  In addition, it was also broken down into two areas of review, Referee Improvement and Critical Rules Applications.  Here are the general findings from these assessments.


For those familiar with the format of the NRP Assessment form, there are 6 areas for scoring.  These areas are Professionalism, Mechanics, Foul Recognition, Misconduct, Game Management and Difficulty of Match.  Each has it’s own maximum score that should lead to the Total Performance Rating which has a maximum score of 100 points.

The results for 2013 report are listed:

Category Maximum Score Average Score %
Professionalism 6 points max. 5.8 points 96.7%
Mechanics 15 points max. 12.2 points 81.3%
Foul Recognition 25 points max. 22.2 points 88.9%
Misconduct 20 points max. 16.4 points 82.0%
Game Management 30 points max. 25.3 points 84.3%
Difficulty of Match 4 points max. 2.3 points 57.5%
TOTAL 100 points max. 80.5 points 84.2%

As you can see, our National Referees and NRP Candidates scored an average of 84.2 points out of a possible of 100 in 2013 which is considered above average.

When comparing the results from 2013 against the results to 2011 & 2012 below, here is what we see:

Category 2013 2012 2011
Professionalism 5.8 points 5.6 points 5.7 points
Mechanics 12.2 points 8.8 points 12.5 points
Foul Recognition 22.2 points 21.6 points 16.6 points
Misconduct 16.4 points 15.9 points 16.3 points
Game Management 25.3 points 25.4 points 25.4 points
Difficulty of Match 2.3 points 2.2 points 2.1 points
TOTAL 84.2 points 79.5 points 78.7 points

Looking over and comparing the results over the past three years, we see that the scores for Professionalism, Misconduct, Game Management and Difficulty of Match have pretty much stayed the same from year to year.  We do see that there has been change in Mechanics and Foul Recognition with the Mechanics score returning to 2011 levels after a dip in 2012 while Foul Recognition staying at 2012 levels.  Overall, the score for 2013 has surpassed the scores from 2012 & 2011 by at least 5 points.

All in all, except for these 2 categories of recovering Mechanics and improving Foul Recognition scores, numbers generally stayed the same.  In the global view, we see these numbers and believe, although there are some significant changes in 2 categories, that the NRP has remained consistent and is doing well.


Another indicator of how officials are performing is to take a look at the feedback provided in the Comments section by the Assessors.  The request from the NISOA Director of Assessment was to have assessors provide feedback in addition to 3 areas of proficiency and 3 areas to improve on.  After looking through the individual assessments, a few areas stand out where we suggest need more attention and improvement.  They are broken down again into two primary areas, Referee Performance and Critical Rules Applications.

Listed below are the points of focus in each.

Referee Performance

1. Positioning-Keeping dynamic play between the Center and AR’s and not turning their back to the AR’s.

2. Staying out of passing lanes and getting wider for better angles.  Reading play better.

3. Proper clock management-knowing when and when not to stop the clock.

4. Managing the technical area/coaches dissent properly.

5. Referees are showing a hesitancy to issue cards to players and coaches.

6. Fitness – Many officials are not fit enough to work top-quality games.

7. AR’s need to employ the “Wait & See” instead of signaling quickly.

Besides addressing Referee Performance, another area of concern is centered around what we will call Critical Rules Applications. This involves officials not knowing the rules, not understanding the differences between NCAA and USSF rules and restarts, their application and the reasons for the difference. The top areas that need attention in this area are:

Critical Rules Applications 

1. Proper application of drop ball or IFK when foul is called in PA with or without goalkeeper in possession.

2. Correct application of substitution rules when injuries and/or blood occur with or without sanctions.

3. Post-season feedback-understand Kicks from the Mark rules, I.E. who can take kicks and who cannot.

4. Injury concerns – proper stoppage mechanics and management

5. Uniform issues – keepers not wearing proper uniforms, socks, numbers required, etc.

6. Knowing the substitution rules differences between USSF and NCAA.

In conclusion, although this is a report for the NISOA National Program, it also holds true for all NISOA officials working college soccer games.  And the conclusion we can see from the above is that the NRP educational process and NRP camps have done an excellent job assisting the members in their growth.  One question to work on is to determine and publish instructions on how a National Referee or Candidate chooses the game that they will be assessed on and who their assessor will be.  I have noticed that some officials have the same assessor on their Center as well as for their AR assessments.  I also see that referees are being assessed by the same Assessor year after year.

What games were used for assessments?

1.      Of the 397 assessments performed, men were assessed on 386 games.

2.      Of the 386 games, 271 assessments were on Men’s games & 115 on Women’s.

3.      Of the 271 Men’s games, 115 were as AR & 156 were as Center.

4.      Of the 115 Women’s games that Men worked, 59 were as AR & 56 as Center.

5.      Of the 397 games assessed performed in 2013, 210 were on DI games, 64 on DII          games, 74 on DIII games, 34 on NAIA games & 12 on NJCCA games.

6.      If there are 300 Nationals/Candidates, we should receive at least 600 assessments.

How assessors complete the assessments

1.      All Regional & National Assessors should continue to be certified annually.

2.      Assessors must use the correct form and follow the instructions provided.

3.      Scoring must become more consistent and follow the Director guidelines. The variety of scoring is too inconsistent.

4.      The Comment section should also list the 3 areas for improvement & 3 areas of proficiency.

We will continue to train, educate and monitor the assessors in the Assessor Program.  As there are a variety of assessor styles and ways they communicate, we need to embrace their knowledge while continuing to require them to follow the instructions of the Director of Assessment.  We will continue to not accept hand written assessments, they must all be on the correct forms, they must be completely filled out, they must be sent out 7 – 10 days after the game and must be distributed to the appropriate NISOA authorities.

In conclusion, as the NISOA National Program works to create the top officials in NISOA and works in conjunction with the NISOA Assessment Program, the quality and quantity of Nationals will continue to prosper and grow.

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