How to Ref Volleyball
Tips for Officiating Volleyball

How to ref volleyball. Use the following tips to become a better volleyball referee.

Referee Gear - How to Ref Volleyball

Be sure to show up with all your officiating gear. A referee needs to have a whistle, a coin, uniform, shoes, belt, bag for carrying supplies, flags, cards, pen or pencil, ball pump, ball pressure gauge and net chain.

Whistle. The whistle is the most important thing to bring to your volleyball match. Bring a professional whistle such as the Fox 40. Learn how to blow the whistle correctly. You want to make a clear sharp whistle sound when you blow the whistle.

Coin. Bring a coin for the coin toss. The referee needs to conduct a coin toss during the pre-match conference. If there's a deciding set, the referee will need to coin to toss for this also.

Uniform. Don't forget your uniform. You might bring your uniform with you or you might show up at your match wearing your uniform. It's also a good idea to bring a back up uniform just in case you need to change clothes. Different organizations have different requirements for uniforms. For example, for high school volleyball, the shoes are black. The pants are black. For usav, the shoes should be white. The pants are navy. Communicate with other officials to decide on the shirt.

Bag Supplies. In your referee bag you should have a whistle, a back up whistle, yellow card, red card, pen or pencil, and a net chain. Take the cards with you on the referee stand. Use the net chain to measure the height of the net before the match. If the net height is wrong, have someone at the facility adjust the net height. 

Ball Pressure Gauge. Use the ball pressure gauge before the match starts to check the air pressure of the volleyball. Use the needle to take air out when necessary. Check the pressure in all the volleyballs that will be used for the match. You can mark the volleyballs so you know what balls have been checked.

Ball Pump. Use a ball pump to add air or take air out of the volleyball. 

Belt. The belt is usually black. Some organizations may want you to wear a brown belt. However, usually the belt is black. 

Pants. Slacks are usually recommended. For high school volleyball, the pants are black. For usav, the color of pants are navy.

Flags. Your line judges won't always be required to use flags. If you are officiating at a school, the school will often provide flags for line judges. If you have a pair of flags, it's a good idea to bring them just in case you need them. For club volleyball tournaments, the referees will usually provide the flags.

Pen or Pencil. It's a good idea to have a pen in case you need to sign paper work. If a line up card is required for the second referee, you will need a pen or pencil to fill out each team's lineup. The referee will also need to sign the scoresheet.

Officiating Work Crew - How to Ref Volleyball

The work crew consists of a first referee (R1), a second referee (R2), two line judges, a scorer, libero tracker, and clock manager.

R1. The R1 is in charge of the match. The R1 will blow the whistle and call captains for the pre-match conference. The R1 is the referee that is on the referee stand. The R1 facilitates the match. The R1 has the final say with what happens on the court. If there's an issue that isn't related to what's happening on the court, such as an issue with a spectator, the R1 will defer to an administrator or tournament director to handle the situation. 

R2. The R2 is the second referee that handles substitutions and time-outs. The R2 will call net and centerline violations. The R2 is there to assist the R1. 

Line Judges. There are 2 line judges for most competitions. The line judges stand at a corner of the court opposite one another. One line judge stands to the right of the R2 while the other line judge stands to the right of the R1. The line judges stand at the intersection of the sideline and endline. The line judges are responsible for signaling when the ball is "out", "in", "touches", "foot faults", "ball hits antenna", "ball crosses outside the antenna", and "impossible judgement". 

Scorer. The scorer will use a scoresheet to track the match. The scorer records such things as the team line up and points scored. 

Libero Tracker. The libero tracker will track the libero. This person will help the scorekeeper and R2 keep track of the libero. The libero tracker will have a sheet that tracks the position the libero is in the match. The libero entries are replacements. This is different than team substitutions. The scorer will track substitutions whereas the libero tracker will track libero replacements. The libero tracker will alert the second referee of things such as libero serving in the wrong spot or the libero not being replaced by the correct player.

Clock Manager. This person manages the visual scoreboard. If it's necessary to keep track of time such as timeouts and in between set intervals, the clock manager will manage the time. 

Pre-match Conference - How to Ref Volleyball

The pre-match conference is where the referees, teams, and sometimes coaches will meet to discuss the protocol for the match. 

The R1 blows the whistle to call captains. The R1 will discuss the protocol such as playable area, the amount of time for warmups, and the length of timeouts. The R1 will then answer any questions. The R1 will conduct a coin toss to determine serve, receive, and the side of the court teams will play. At the end of the conference, the warm ups continue and the clock continues to run until warm ups are complete. 

7 Tips for Volleyball Referees

  1. Know the rules. You need to know the rules. If you don't know the rules then you won't be prepared for what to call. 
  2. Know your signals. You need to know all the calls that you could have to make. If you are a new referee, starts with the basics. 
  3. Be really good at the sequence for making calls. This is probably the most important tip. You need to blow the whistle at the right time. If the whistle is blown late, then everyone will think you are unsure of what happened. Always blow the whistle at the correct time then you have time to think for a second what you are going to call. So, even if you are unsure of what to call, if you know you need to blow the whistle, then be sure to blow at the correct time. 
  4. Always have an answer. You need to always be able to explain why you made the call you made. Focus on using the language of the rule book. If you don't use the correct language, the team could protest your call. Know the language so you can stay out of trouble.
  5. Get more experience. The more experience you get, the better you will become at refereeing. Even if you have a lot of experience, you will find you are learning new things all the time. The more experience you get, the more comfortable you will be at officiating.  
  6. Have an experienced referee give you feedback. An experienced official could give you advice that would help you improve at officiating. It could be something that's very simple for you to change. Every improvement you make, the easier it will be for you to officiate volleyball because you will appear more confident and have an answer for every situation.
  7. Don't be afraid of feedback. The more feedback you get, the more you can improve as an official. Don't be embarrassed or uncomfortable with being critiqued. Be open to receiving feedback so you can continue to improve your officiating skills.

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Officiating Tips for Beginner Referees