5 Tips on Becoming a Better Soccer Referee

‘Kick Off’

When you are watching soccer at home or on the pitch, it’s evidently you are supporting one of the teams. Most of us often ignore one of the most important people on the field that is the referee.

Soccer referees play a very huge role when it comes to a soccer game because they are responsible for maintaining discipline when the game is being played. If you want to start off a referee career, you need to be up for the challenge both physically and mentally. As easy as it looks like, referees face many challenging aspects during game play and anyone wanting to walk down this path needs to be up for the task.


Qualities of a good soccer referee

There are two things that you need to look at if you want to be a better referee, the physical aspect and the mental aspect. They are shown with the below tips:

Physically fitness

In the physical aspect, a good referee needs to be physically fit if he wants to be part of the game for the 90 minutes. Soccer referees need to have the right amount of training so that they do not suffer from muscle pulls, groin injuries or any other form of injury that may force him or her to come off the field. Training should be able to equip you with enough strength and muscle so that you are able to last for the whole 90 minutes of the game without any problem.


All Soccer referees are meant to keep their eyes open whenever the game is in progress. You need to be keen if you are to make the right calls during the game of soccer. You have assistant referees to help you but still it is important to make some calls based on what you have seen so that if there is a complaint, you can have the heavier side of the argument.

Work done by your assistants

<> during the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Group A match between New Zealand and Netherlands at Commonwealth Stadium on June 6, 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
<> during the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Group A match between New Zealand and Netherlands at Commonwealth Stadium on June 6, 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

As a soccer referee you also need to put your trust on your assistants, because if it’s something you did not see, your assistants are able to clarify the issue with you to make that call.

Fair and Just (Neutrality)

Professionalism is seen in referees when they make just decision. No matter how a team plays, you need to be the neutral part so that you can make a true and fair decision.

Time Conscious

Calls for half time and full time need to be well met so that the game does not proceed for more time or end when time is less.

‘Full Time’

Soccer is one of the most watched games in the world and I bet it’s partially due to the players but also due to the right calls made by the referee. A referee’s professionalism is seen by how accurate and just he is with his calls and if you want to be a referee, the 5 tips above are the best guide to suit your career.

Training is mandatory

According to FIFA, it is a requirement for any professional referee to have formal education and training in the field. FIFA is endeavored to ensure that those who wish to play the game get the best officiating to ensure fair play.


Consequently, this governing body has the mandate to ensure that match officials have the required skills and capacity to successfully officiate the game. Therefore, to become a very good soccer referee and be successful in the game like Pierluigi Collina, you need to have some formal training in the field. In this regard, here are some of the leading soccer referee schools you can join.

Institutions offering referee courses

University of Portsmouth

Being a specialized FA referee hub, the University of Portsmouth focuses on training student referees to become highly skilled. Under the university of Portsmouth FA referee development program, this hub helps to create pathways to connect referees with local football programs. As a result, the standards of football raise and also football grows in grassroots levels. The program also enables referees to progress, and develop while at the same time help them to have long term participation in football.

British Universities and college sport

British universities and college sport has an initiative that is aimed to support student referees who are willing to develop their referee skills while pursuing main courses at the university. This initiative is undertaken in partnership with the Referee Association Football Association Youth Council.

This partnership has help create the BUCS university referee hub which is involved in the development of scholarship schemes. These schemes are intended to recruit, train and deploy a considerable number of student referees who have the desire to impact upon the game.

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This institution has referee courses running throughout the year. The courses are developed in such a way that there is much emphasis on practical modern training methods to ensure that referees are well equipped for the game. The main objective of this course is to provide referee students with an insight to the rules of the game and how they can be applied practically on the field. Also, referee skills are enforced during the period of study.

Japan Soccer College

It was established in the year that the FIFA world cup was held in Korea/Japan. This college offers students with professional environment to develop their skills in playing the game, coaching, and also officiating. The referee courses in this school are under the coach development program of the Japan Football Association. Through this course, one can either become a coach or a referee.


Consistency in the officiating of games

Soccer is a global sport with same rules applying everywhere it is being played. Due to this fact, the rules governing the game must be interpreted and also be applied consistently across the board. To ensure that referees maintain the flow of the game; FIFA has put in place a policy that requires referees to have training. This ensures that the standard of the game is maintained and the rules are applied uniformly everywhere.

Top Mistakes Novice Soccer Referees Make

Being a Referee

Being a referee for any sport can be incredibly exhausting. Learning the rules can be difficult, especially if it is not a sport that you played as a child or young adult. Despite this fact, it is imperative that all good referees know the rules to their sports inside and out.

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They have to know, understand, and respect the rules in order to be able to referee the game fairly. However, they are still human, so they sometimes make mistakes. This can be especially true for referees who are just getting their start in the business. Here are some of the top mistakes that beginning referees, specifically for soccer, make.

Common Mistakes of Beginning Soccer Referees

l Not knowing how long the halves are. While this may seem like an incredibly easy task, the lengths of the halves of a soccer game vary by division level and by area of the state. Some games are even divided into third or quarters instead of halves. This can make it incredibly confusing to novice referees, because sometimes they will referee one game with forty-five minute halves, and then referee another game an hour later with twenty minute thirds. Knowing the exact length of the various parts of the game is something that comes with time, so it is something that novice referees have to pay extra attention to.

l Missing an offsides call. Offsides calls can be some of the trickiest calls to make. There are so many rules surrounding what exactly constitutes a position of “offsides” that often time referees do not make the fact.

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Couple this with the fact that offsides positions often take place away from where all of the game action is and it becomes easy to see why referees, especially novice referees, can miss this call so much. Paying attention to both the ball and the action surrounding it, in addition to both ends of the field to ensure that no one is offsides, is much easier said than done.

l Paying attention only to the ball and legs of the players. This can be the most difficult thing for new soccer referees out of all of the tasks that they have to learn. Especially if they played soccer when they were younger, but even if they didn’t, they have to train themselves to constantly look at the whole field, instead of just down at the ball and legs of the players where all of the action takes place. Novice referees generally have to remind themselves of this constantly, but this can be a difficult task even for experienced referees. Learning how to be in the right position in order to be able to see the whole field, be able to make proper judgment calls, and training yourself to survey the entire field can be incredibly difficult.

After the Novice Referee Days


After you have completed all of your training and have refereed a few games, several of these tasks will seem much more simple to you. At first, the referee industry can seem to be very difficult, but with some hard work and experience, it can be a rewarding job. All new referees make mistakes, and some make a lot.

As a player or spectator, it is important to respect the calls of the referee, and as a referee, it is important to not get discouraged. When everyone works together to make the games a better place to be, then everyone will be able to focus on what actually matters: the game itself.