There is a written test you need to take to become a certified referee in the
The test consists of true-false and multiple-choice questions.
There are two ways in which you can take the test:
take the test online
and bring the results to your league supervisor.
You can take the written test on your own.
Pick up a copy from your league supervisor, fill it out and turn it in.
You're not done, however.
You need to get the test back corrected from the supervisor with the answer
key to see which questions you got right or wrong. The answer key includes
a brief explanation for each answer. After you get the test back from your
league supervisor, then your name goes on the master list of certified refs.
Some hints for the new referees
The referee should be positioned on the side of the net that is serving
and the umpire should be positioned on the opposite side of the net, on
the side that is receiving.
Make sure the umpire watches the net and the center line for you.
That way you, as the referee, can follow the
flight of the ball, which is your primary responsibility.
Remind the umpire to look for overlaps
on the team receiving serve. Even when teams are not
running a setter out of the back row, there quite often
can be an overlap in a 4-2 offense. Watch carefully
when a front-row setter is setting from either the left
front or right front position since their middle back
can easily overlap with the center front.
linespeople who will give a
on every play, no matter how obviously
in or out a ball was. What is apparent to one person may not be as easily
seen from the other side of the court with half a dozen bodies in the way.
Remind the linespeople to help on touches, etc.
In the recreational leagues, concentrate on the basics:
Calling a net,
Calling someone for going under
Calling someone for lifting the ball.
(A lift is when the ball visibly comes
to rest on some part of the player's body.) Scrutinize someone closely if
they play the ball with open palms face up. That generally would be a lift.
For calling a mishandled ball on a set, use either the signal for a
In the recreational B leagues, as long as a
setter is squared off (facing the target either directly forward or back) the
set generally will not be called. If you don't face your target, the set
better be clean. In the upper levels, set the ball cleanly or bumpset.
Watch the other teams and get a feel for the level of officiating. Ask your
supervisor to watch you ref and give you some feedback on whether you're
being too tight or too loose. Most likely, the teams you are reffing will
give you some instant feedback.
It's recommended that the umpire mimics the referee's
It keeps everyone mentally in the game and helps players/spectators see
what the call was.
It's important for a referee to blow a good, firm whistle for service and to
stop play. A tentative whistle is just asking for people to question the call.
Remember to blow the whistle
every time something happens that affects the play.
For instance, if a ball from another court interrupts
the service or a server tosses the ball and lets it drop, blow the whistle
and signal a
then when both teams are ready, blow the whistle again to
initiate the serve.
Always blow the whistle and show the proper
even if the call seems obvious.
The play of the ball, easily seen by you, may not be so
clear to others on the court obscured by blockers, etc.
Only the captain may speak with the referee. If you're the ref, and 4 or 5
people start asking you something, politely say "Just the captain, please"
and this will make the situation much more manageable for everyone.
If anything happens that you're not sure of, call a
and get the supervisor. That's what he/she is there for.
However, it always is a good idea for referees to have read a copy of the
rulebook in addition to the
has the rules listd in PDF form at its website.
Make sure you give clear
and hold them up for the players to see.
Not everyone instantly looks at you when you blow the whistle to stop play,
so show the
for a few extra seconds so people
will see what you're calling.
Always signal the
on the side of the net that won the point.
Many people question a ref's call not because
they disagree, but because they didn't see what the ref called.
Then the referee assumes they're arguing with the call and the situation
snowballs. You can save everyone a lot of grief by being very clear and
precise with the
At the end of a play, look at your scorekeeper to ensure that a
has been recorded.
Before you blow the whistle for
look at the serving team to see that they're ready, then
look to the receiving team, then look back to the serving team and blow the
whistle as you give the
Your job is not just to call the fouls
and keep the score, but to ensure that both teams are ready for the ball to
be served. They may not pass it well, but at least they'll be ready.
Smart Referees Always . . .
Sometimes the mark of good referees isn't what they do, but what they don't do.
The following are some things for both referees and players to be aware of:
When a net foul occurs,
touch the side of the net that the foul occurs on.
If the team on your left touches the net, touch the net with your left hand
and signal point or sideout with your right hand. That way, there's no
question of which side netted.
During a play, there may be a question of whether someone was
over the net,
back row player attacked in front of the 10 foot line,
etc. A good referee
will subtly signal okay or good by showing a palm face down while play
continues. (Players looking to see whether there was a foul or not can see
the ref's signal and know that the official was watching and ruled no foul.)
For instance, a ball is set far outside and the hitter manages to keep it in
play. The other team may question whether
the ball hit the antenna or whether
it passed outside of the court on its way to their side.
If a linesperson
shows this "good" signal, players will see that the linesperson was watching
and saw the ball as in or good. Players will get frustrated when they think
the officiating team missed a play, or don't understand what the question is
about. By using this good signal, you can save yourself a lot of questions
and the players will usually back off. They may not agree, but at least they
know you didn't miss the play.
A referee can always overrule a linesperson or an umpire, but don't do it
unless you're very sure.
You don't generally see an experienced referee blowing the whistle when a
ball gets hit into the net. The ref should wait until there is a
the ball hits the ground
since it is not a foul to hit a ball into the net on a spike attempt.
An experienced referee uses the correct terminology and correct
In the IVL, we are currently using the one direction, one motion rule on an
open-handed dink. A smart ref doesn't explain a call by saying
"You broke your wrist on the play,"
"He didn't break his wrist on the play." A smart ref says
"There was more than one direction or motion," or
"the ball visibly came to rest,"
"The dink was one direction, one motion, so it was okay."
If you want to get a match started, and the players are not cooperating
after you announce "Last hit," go over and subtly stand in the way of the
setter. Get the setter to walk back and line up. It's difficult for a
hitting line to continue if there's not a setter. You can do this in a
friendly, but very effective way: Stand partway between the setter and the
hitting line and say to the setter "That was the last hit, let's play."
In the IVL, if an experienced referee sees a potential foul (possible
server standing on the endline,
etc.) he/she will warn the team before they
blow the whistle for serve. These are not the Olympic Trials. People want
to play, let's let them. Don't call the dead ball fouls; warn the players
ahead of time and correct the situation. Teams will appreciate your effort.
The umpire can watch for
especially on the receiving team, and the referee can watch for
on both teams, especially the serving team before he/she blows the whistle
For a further discussion of playing rules, see the
Online Referee Test
The IVL offers an online test to become a certified referee for our leagues.
The test consists of true/false and multiple-choice questions.
To pass, you must answer every question correctly.
But don't worry!
There is help when you need it.
After completing the test, you must print it out and bring it to your
league supervisor to be recorded on our list of referees.
To begin, please give your name, and the name of your team below.
These are used for the online test only, and are not retained or
distributed in any way after the test is complete.
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Redwood City, CA 94061
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