Ten Tips to Better Referee Team Performance

The monthly “NISOA Referee Nuts and Bolts” column is written primarily for the college and high school Referee. However, any soccer Referee who wishes to improve personal performance may also find that this series is helpful.

All articles address those BASIC techniques, procedures, practice alternatives, and skills that are sometimes forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing. The short discussions and accompanying practical tips stress important advice for competent performance.

This September 2012 column includes a discussion entitled: “Ten Tips to Better Referee Team Performance” by Bob Sumpter, NISOA


Both the intercollegiate and interscholastic soccer games have become the most competitive level within their age and institutional arenas. The performance of the Referee Team assigned to their games is critical to their program success. The effort contributed by the assigned Referee Team is critical to game success for all concerned.

Having a successful game means more than just showing up and having a Referee Team with R, ARs and AO assigned. Similar to the competing teams using their combined skills, your Referee Team must make sure to use all of its combined skills to get a top result in game management and control.

While we all follow a procedure to help insure successful game management and control, the following suggests a number of items critical to successful game performance as a Referee Team in both intercollegiate and interscholastic soccer competitions.

NISOA Referees would do well to consider these suggestions and incorporate them into their Referee Team management efforts.


1. Make sure to have a planned pre-game briefing with all assigned officials participating.

2. If the Referee Team members are not familiar with each other, basics should be covered. Plan to have the time to do so.

3. R should share all information with ARs about style and playing tactics of the competing teams. (i.e., part of R pre-game “homework”)

4. Appearance before, during, and after the game counts for quite a bit. Make sure all Referee Team members have correct uniforms and insignia.

5. ARs and AO must commit to follow R pre-game instructions and fully accept and perform their responsibilities; the Referee Team Pre-game Briefing is the time to ask questions for any clarification needed!

6. R clearly sets out, and ARs accept, responsibility to signal violations and misconducts for specific types of incidents identified by R as affecting game control, and the types of violations and misconducts (if any) that can be left to R discretion to call.

7. R clearly explains the kinds of AR backup and confirmation signals to confirm calls made by R that will help game control; R makes sure to acknowledge all AR and AO signals observed during the game.

8. R clearly sets out, and AR and AO clearly understand, under what circumstances the R will want them to enter the field to help with participant control if needed.

9. R clearly sets out assistance expected of AO in bench personnel control.

10. Make sure all Referee Team members participate in post-game analysis of the Referee Team performance. Make sure to stress things that might have been done better next time.