How to Become a Volleyball Referee

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Like any other sport, volleyball referees have an important and very decisive part inside of the court. If you’re interested in this job, you may be wondering how to become a volleyball referee and what skills you’ll need to develop in order to do it well.

How to Become a Volleyball Referee

Starting your journey as a referee requires you to be prepared and well-instructed before becoming a professional. After all, you will need to train your decision-making abilities as well as your behavior as a person; it is no lie that referees might get a lot of uncalled-for insults.

Therefore, you need to learn how to improve these skills while also practicing and learning all of the volleyball rules. Doing this will allow you to see each game from a different perspective, which could help you improve your efficiency as a referee.

An image of a referee in volleyball

From start to finish, here are the steps to becoming a volleyball referee.

Step 1: Learn to Stop Taking Things Personally

One of the first things you need to learn before you become an official referee is to never take things personally. Of course, there are going to be certain moments in your life where you will get offended by someone, however, this cannot happen while you control a match.

Imagine you are officiating an important volleyball match. You make a decision and penalize one team, then one player gets angry, and insults you from far away. In this situation, the player could get highly penalized, however, it would be very bad if you took his words personally.

This is because you may say or do anything in the heat of the moment that would damage both the match and your career. Additionally, it may heavily bias you against him and his squad, giving the opposing team an unfair advantage.

Learn the Consequences

If you make a bad decision as a referee, you wouldn’t be the only one suffering the consequences of it. A whole volleyball team can lose an important match due to a bad referee, therefore, you need to always take things as seriously as possible.

This implies that you must maintain complete control over your emotions and behaviors while executing this work. You must be firm; no player should be allowed to alter your opinion at any point; if you believe you have made the correct decision, you must stick to it.

Also, although this may sound contradictory, you must remember that you are human and you can make errors; even professionals do so on occasions. However, if you work hard and put in a lot of effort, you won’t make many mistakes.

Step 2: Start Watching Experienced and Elite Referees

Watching professionals is one of the best tactics to learn, therefore, you can dig deep and start examining important matches. By doing this, you will learn a different approach to the game, which will let you have a unique point of view. It also motivates you to become better.

This is known as observational learning, and it may help you learn how to behave like a professional efficiently. After all, it is a method that our bodies adapt almost instinctively, allowing me to emulate the motions of the referees I am watching.

You may also keep track of their decisions, such as when they blow the whistle and when they don’t. This can help you clear your mind and become more confident while making decisions; if the experts can do it, so can you.

A volleyball referee officiating a match

Step 3: Learn to Be Objective With Your Decisions

Being objective implies that you need to watch and dictate a sentence in the most logical way possible, without having any bias. If you get your emotions involved in your decision, you will probably make a very bad sentence. Here you can see how to become more objective.

  • Calm down your emotions. You cannot pay attention to your emotions as a referee from the start of the game to the finish of it. As previously said, this might interfere with your choices, which could have a significant impact on the match and your career.
  • Learn to see things from neutral territory. During a volleyball match, no matter how hard or unfair the game is for one of the teams, if they committed a fault, you need to apply it to them. There should be no such thing as favoritism among referees.
  • Understand the rules and their context completely. Despite the fact that the rule book is quite specific, there are some scenarios that are completely objective. In this case, you must study the context of the match and apply the rule appropriately.
  • Learn how to work under pressure. There is no doubt that a big volleyball match is stressful for both players and officials. After all, if you make a poor judgment, a team might lose a gold medal as a result.
  • Never question yourself. If you have properly prepared yourself, your intuition will most of the time guide you to the best options. However, if you dispute this intuition, you may begin to overthink and become biased.

Step 4: Start Small

In order to become a good referee, you need to start officiating small matches. For example, if you and your friends play volleyball on a regular basis, you could ask them if you can play as the referee in one of their games. This way, you will be slowly building up a lot of experience.

This is significant because you will have plenty of opportunities to make errors and learn. Controlling these matches will provide you with valuable experience for future games. Then, as you gain experience, you will be able to officiate better matches.

Get a Certificate

Becoming a high school referee is an excellent method to obtain experience. You will need to get in contact with your desired high school, pass a written test, and, depending on your nation and state, you will need a certificate proving that you have trained as a referee.

For this, there are many institutes that offer you great training. The Professional Association of Volleyball Officials (PAVO), for example, is one of the numerous organizations that provide both training and certification.

A volleyball referee

Step 5: Take and Pass the Examinations

After gaining a significant amount of experience, you can contact the official chair from your region and request to be examined.

Although these evaluations differ by location, you will almost always be required to undergo a clinical exam (to assess your overall health) and a referee evaluation.

After that, you’ll have to wait for their decision. If you pass all of the exams, you will officially be a national referee.

Related Questions

Here are some related questions about volleyball referees

What Do Volleyball Officials Wear?

A referee must wear a white shirt, ironed dark navy blue pants, and a black or dark navy blue leather belt. Finally, a “Volleyball Certified Official” insignia on the left sleeve. If the referee fails to wear this, it won’t be allowed to control the match.

What Whistle Do Referees Use?

Referees frequently use a special whistle that is substantially louder than a standard whistle. These professional whistles have a distinct pitch that can clearly be heard above the sounds of the athletes and the spectators cheering and screaming.


Being a referee involves a great deal of practice, effort, and, most importantly, sound decision-making. After all, a wrong judgment may affect the game, which can be disastrous when it comes to teams. As a result, becoming a referee is a significant matter.

Alfonso Andrade is an avid sportsman, growing up playing soccer and volleyball. He is a coach and sports analyst, studying the game to analyze performance and help create improvement.