Personal Organization Skills

By: Mike Burton, BA and MA, Lutheran Pacific University; HS Speech and Debate Team Coach and Official (39 yrs.), Washington State  Teacher of the Year, WIAA Hall of Fame-Speech and Debate Official, author of numerous articles on officiating and education.

This presentation discusses a number of suggested actions that will help you meet your seasonal high school soccer refereeing commitments. Every Interscholastic Soccer Referee can benefit by making sure that the appropriate items are provided for before, during, and after each high school soccer season. By doing so, you can make sure that your obligations to the schools and the game of high school soccer are being met professionally and effectively.

This article covers the suggestions in checklist fashion. While the list is not all-inclusive, it is meant to be a starting point to get important details taken care of in a timely and convenient way.  It also covers many seemingly minor details that many Referees either do not think of in time for a new season, or leave until a time when the lack of having them done beforehand interferes with their ability to serve the game properly.

1.  Three months before the start of a new high school soccer season, outline (write down, or make a list of) the uniforms, materials, and equipment you can think of that you will need to officiate your assigned school games during the season.

As examples: How many sets, or replacement parts, of uniforms are needed, based on your expected number and frequency of game assignments? How many sets, or replacement parts, of alternate uniforms might be needed to avoid color conflict and insure uniformity of dress among the Referee Team(s) you are assigned to? What kinds of personal equipment items or replacements do you need used for each game assignment?  Do you have an adequate supply of the game reports, record forms, or Misconduct Report forms that are required by your State High School Association?

2. Review and budget for the needed additions and replacements, and order in time for the coming season. In particular, extra time may be needed to acquire the prescribed  high school uniform items. Starting early can avoid problems.

The suggested three month time period  before the season gives you time to acquire these and other needed items can save much last-minute scurrying about to get prepared.

3.  Gather and keep materials, uniforms and equipment in a single location.

On many occasions during a season, you follow a tight time schedule to get to assigned games. Having these items available and ready for use can relieve the stress of last-minute hustle to leave for a game. Most experienced Soccer Referees keep at least one full and clean uniform set, one full and clean alternate uniform set, and all personal referee equipment in a travel kit ready at all times.

4.  Make an inventory record of all of your uniforms, materials and equipment.

Keep updated copies in convenient places, such as one with your Referee Kit, and one as a backup at home.  Once you create and maintain an up-to-date inventory of these items, you will be surprised at how many individual items make up an accurate list. Also, an accurate inventory will help eliminate the possibility that you might forget to replenish a required item.

5.  Keep a date-calendar book for game assignments and for your local Interscholastic Referee Chapter meetings.  This should be in more than one place with one being on line such as in a computer file, or program such as Arbiter, and one saved as hard copy.  (We all know nothing ever goes wrong with computers!)  Make sure you have blocked dates on your calendar and have given them to your assigner both on your association site and in hard copy.

On each game date in the calendar, note contact telephone numbers along with the game date, time, and place. Again, keep one updated copy of your date-calendar with your Referee Kit, and an updated duplicate elsewhere for backup.

6.  Keep a contact list of all high school soccer contact personnel.

An accurate, up-to-date list is a must.  As the number of your contacts expands, the more effort you will have to spend in up-dating the information.  People nowadays seem to make changes in their contact information more and more often. Your high school soccer activities can go a lot more smoothly, and your time used most efficiently when you pay attention to this important personal preparation item.

Among the people and organizations in a contact list, include: (1) game assigner, (2) the school office, coach, and athletic director of the schools you are assigned to referee, (3) your State High School Association office, soccer contact, and Interpreter (as appropriate) (4) your local Interscholastic Chapter officers, instructors, assessors, and assigned mentor, interpreter, assigned Referee Team members, and (5) any other person or organization that you may need to contact in relation to your high school soccer refereeing.

The contact information should include as much of the following as available: (1) full name, (2) full mailing address, (3) e-mail, (4) FAX, and (4) Web Page address where appropriate. This information is especially valuable to you in order to check times, dates, places, map directions, addresses to submit reports., and to plan and make arrangements with the other members of your assigned Referee Team for each game.

7.  Keep accurate records for IRS reporting

Most Soccer Referees are regarded as independent contractors. For Federal Tax purposes they should report all game fees earned on their income tax submissions.

All game fees received, and all travel and expense reimbursements received, is information that you will need for accurate records.

8.  Keep an expense log.

Part of your income tax submission is to also report all deductible expenses incurred in performing soccer refereeing services.

Make sure you keep a full record of such items as: uniform and equipment costs, telephone expenses, car expenses, laundry and cleaning uniform costs, and other expenses related directly of refereeing. (It’s a good idea to get advice from a tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service about the types of records to maintain.)

9. Check for directions to school.

If you have not officiated at a school before, contact the appropriate school or individual well ahead of game day for travel directions. If the game site is close enough, travel to the location the week before to verify. Also, look up the location on an area map so you can have no doubt of how to get there. Your game Assignor can usually give accurate directions. This also becomes important when all the members of the assigned Referee Team agree to travel together to and from the game site.

10.  Keep a season’s log of games and scrimmages worked.

Some local Interscholastic Soccer Referee Chapters have standard game log forms available.  Also, some soccer supply houses have standard forms available. Included in the log should be: game date and scheduled start time, location, home and visitor school names, and game scores. Leave room for comments about unusual situations that might occur: weather, delays, serious misconduct occurrences, injuries, etc.

11.  At season’s end inspect, clean, repair and properly store uniform(s) and equipment.

Uniforms, personal equipment, and materials in your Referee Kit should last for several seasons. Extending their useful life depends directly on the care you take with them. Properly cleaning, repairing, and replacing as required during each season and after every game, is important. Also important is your taking care to pack and store them between seasons. To do so reduces the unnecessary outlays for unneeded repairs and replacements.

12.  Keep copies of all performance evaluations received, and copies of all misconduct reports you submitted. Analyze and consider these for self improvement.

One of your major responsibilities throughout your Soccer Referee career is to seek ways to improve and upgrade your competency.  While there are many opportunities to get others to help and advise you in ways to become a better Referee, much will depend on your own willingness to take responsibility for you own improvement.

By saving copies of assessments and evaluations received you can review these periodically and consider the suggestions of objective observers of your past performance.  You can also study the copies of all misconduct reports that you have submitted and reflect (and discuss with other Soccer Referees) how you might better have handled the situations involved.


These are some of the items that some Soccer Referees might overlook as they become involved in Interscholastic Soccer.  However, by adding these to the long lists of other concerns you are able to identify and take care of as part of your planning and preparing for each game and each season, you should find that these help you to perform your total job better and more comfortably.