How to Become a Referee
People become soccer referees for a variety of
reasons. But whether you want to help your local leagues, improve
your conditioning, continue your soccer career, learn more about the
sport, or someday make it into the MLS, the road to becoming a USSF
referee is the same for all. You simply:
Attend an entry-level clinic
Pass the certification test
Get a uniform
Connect with assignor(s)
Officiate your first game
Step 1: The Entry-level Clinic
All entry-level clinics throughout the state are
posted on the Michigan Referee Committee website and they are listed
by region. The clinics are offered on different days and at
different times of the year, so you can choose the clinic most
convenient for your needs. Pick one that does not conflict with work
or playing schedules, because you will need to be in class for the
duration of the clinic. If you have any questions, call the person
listed as the contact for that particular clinic. There is no age
limit for persons taking the entry-level class.
The entry-level clinic consists of at least
eight hours of instruction which is mostly classroom work, but field
demonstrations are used if the site permits. The clinic is usually
spread out over two or three days.
To register for the class, click on the web link
for that particular session and you will be guided through the
registration process. All clinics have a maximum number of
participants allowed which varies on the size of the site and other
factors. Registering early will hold your place in the class.
Step 2: The Certification Test
The clinic focuses on mastering the FIFA Laws of
the Game. At the conclusion of the class, participants will be given
a 100 question, multiple choice test. A passing score of 75% or
greater is needed for USSF referee certification. Students not
achieving a passing score will be allowed to re-take the test at a
later date. The message here is to do your homework, read the
materials you are given, and don’t assume that because you have
played, coached, or refereed for years that you will pass with ease.
Be prepared. Students successfully completing the entry-level clinic
and exam will be certified as Grade 9 USSF referees.
Step 2a: Moving Ahead
After holding a Grade 9 badge for a minimum of
one season (either the spring or the fall season), qualified
candidates may elect to go on to the Grade 8 certification in what
is known as a Bridge Class. Bridge Classes are also posted on the
MRC website and are offered at different times of the year depending
on local demand. Qualified candidates are those persons who are 14
years of age or older by January 1 of the certification year.
The Bridge Class consists of eight additional
hours of instruction and takes a much deeper look at the Laws of the
Game. The registration process is identical to that of the
entry-level classes. The website link will take you through the
registration and payment process and will hold your spot in the
Step 3: Getting a Uniform
The basic referee uniform consists of a yellow
pin-striped jersey, black short, black sock with three white
stripes, and black shoes. There are no restrictions on the shoes,
but they must be comfortable and not cause blisters. Your instructor
will discuss the uniform at some point in class and will offer
suggestions on how to get a uniform. You will need other equipment
as well, including a watch (preferably one with a stopwatch), flags,
a whistle, a small book to keep score, a pen or pencil, a flipping
coin, and red and yellow cards.
Step 4: Connect with an Assignor
The next step in getting games is to let an
assignor know you are certified and available. Your instructor
should give you information on local contacts during the clinic. You
can find a local referee assignor by going to the “Assignors” link
on the Michigan Referee Committee website and clicking the map on
your county. Finally, you can ask other referees or local leagues in
your area for contacts that coordinate their game assignments.
Remember, having the referee license does not
guarantee you assignments and assignors won’t necessarily come
looking for you. You have to take the initiative if you want to work
Step 5: Working your Games
Now you are a referee, with all of the
accompanying headaches, frostbite/sunburn, and last minute schedule
changes that come with it. Knowing the Laws of the Game is only the
foundation of being a good referee. It takes top fitness, constantly
honing your skills, a professional demeanor, and unwavering focus.
Experience is the best teacher. Work games. Watch other referees and
“borrow” what might make you a better official.
At the end of the year, usually in November or December, you will
need to re-certify your license for the next year. The
recertification clinic consists of five hours of advanced-level
instruction and a 50-question test. Clinic dates and locations can
be found on the MRC website as they become scheduled.