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Soccer Officiating Information

Physical Demands of Soccer Officiating

Expect higher than normal physical demands. As the players’ ages increase and the competitive levels increase, the physical demands will rise. You will be required to run several miles to properly position yourself. You are often expected to do several games in a day.


Approximately 16 hours. Expect lectures, demonstration and exercises on the 17 basic Laws of the Game. If you only want to work small-sided youth games, there are specific training courses which may be shorter. There is a small fee for initial training ranges between $25- $50.


  • Polished, black athletic shoes; cleated or flat—bottomed.
  • Special socks with three white bands.
  • Black shorts.
  • A specialized black shirt with white collars and cuffs, short—sleeves or long—sleeves.
  • Referee tools: A watch, whistle, pencil, note paper, coin, red card, yellow card and a set of assistant referee flags.
  • Estimated cost: $200 if you have soccer shoes. Sometimes, veteran referees have “hand-me-downs” that help new referees get started.

There are alternate red and gold jerseys available when colors clash with the competing teams. There are variations in patterns and shades, so discuss your purchase with a veteran referee to ensure you buy an authorized shirt.

Registration and Fees

Talk with referees at a game, contact the athletic department of a local high school or contact your local recreation department. They will be able to give you the name of the state governing body for high school athletics. You will be expected to complete a registration form for affiliation with a national, statewide or local association. Often there will be a fee that must be paid with this registration which goes toward additional officiating training and insurance. Often, with your state association fee, you will be provided rulebooks and other materials. The fees range from $10-$50.

Game Fees

Many programs offer no pay. The American Youth Soccer Organization prides itself on being an all—volunteer force, however they supply you with some of the equipment needed to start. Game fees in other leagues vary widely based on the players’ age group, competitive level and the state you officiate in. You can expect the range of $10 for youth games to $45 for competitive high school varsity games. Collegiate games pay from $50-$150.

Help and Assistance

Ask a respected veteran referee to be your mentor if one is not assigned to you. That mentor will help answer your questions and provide crucial support. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about situations and rules. The more you talk about officiating, the more you will learn about it.


Here’s the path for starting and continuing your officiating career:

Youth Level

Many referees start at the youth level. Contact your local recreation department leaders. Your local association should also help you make contacts to get games.

United States Soccer Federation (USSF)
1801-1811 S. Prairie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
fax: 312-808-1301

Soccer Association for Youth (SAY)
4050 Executive Park Dr., Suite 100
Cincinnati, OH 45241
fax: 513-769-0500

Soccer in the Streets (SITS)
149 McDonough St., Suite 270
Jonesboro, GA 30236
fax: 770-478-1862

American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO)
12501 S. Isis Ave.
Hawthorne CA 90250
fax: 310/643-5310


After working some games, you may feel you have the skills and confidence to work higher level competition. Many associations will allow upgrading in the middle of the season after you have shown a trained observer you are ready to make the leap. That observation, evaluation or assessment will provide you with valuable feedback.

After you have worked the minimum number of games, you can apply for upgrading. The higher level will allow you to work more competitive games and earn higher fees. Important note: You are responsible for monitoring the number of games you have worked in the past. You will need to show some documentation when you apply for the upgrade, so keep accurate records: game date, opposing teams, referee partners, age bracket, etc.

Upgrading to High School

The requirements vary state by state. You may have to keep a record of your games, earning points for each game whistled. You may automatically move up if you attend a rules meeting and submit a written test. Contact your state association for registration information.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is the nation’s governing body for high school athletics. Contact the NFHS for rulebooks, rule changes and information on your state association.

PO Box 690
Indianapolis, IN 46204

In most cases, state associations can put you in contact with a local officials association. NASO has more than 4,000 local officials associations in our database. Local officials associations assign games, many times offers mentoring programs and assist in training.

High school athletic directors, association assigners and other officials will help you get games. Attend local officiating camps and clinics. They are focused on helping umpires learn and improve.

Upgrading to College

The National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) is an organization of more than 5,000 soccer officials which trains, certifies and provides qualified soccer referees for the college soccer community throughout the country. The mission of NISOA is to assist in the development of soccer as a major sport in the United States and to improve the quality of officiating at the college and high school levels. For more information about NISOA, its membership requirements and local chapter locations, visit NISOA.

Annual Recertification

The different organizations have different requirements, but most require at least attendance at a meeting to go over any current rule changes. Additional requirements may be a written test with a minimum passing score, a physical test with distance and sprint elements, payment of fees for the upcoming season and a classroom session for additional inservice training of up to five hours.

Still have questions? Contact us at HERE to receive additional information on becoming a soccer official.