Recruitment and Training of Officials


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Establish Procedures for Recruiting Individuals
Provide Basic Levels of Training
Match Training and Experience to Competition
Provide Reasonable Compensation for Officials
Develop Policies to Ensure Officials are Treated with Respect


1. Establish Procedures for Recruiting Individuals
(Establish Procedures for Recruiting Individuals from Existing Officials’ Organizations, Current or Former Athletes, and Parents)

Most organizations, at all levels of play, are in need of more officials. Whatever can be done to recruit new officials, and then to retain them will benefit that organization, and can benefit other organizations as well. The best way to recruit new officials is to personally ask those who would have interest and the potential to be an official. Good sources are current or former high school or college athletes, parents (especially after their son or daughter is done playing), or former coaches. While a strong background in the rules and strategies of a sport is a definate advantage, of most importance is having a strong desire to learn what it takes to be an official.

Specific Techniques That Can Be Used to Find Officials:

  • The Minnesota State High School League maintains a list of registered officials in all sponsored sports. Access this directory through the MSHSL website: www.mshsl.org (select “Officials and Judges” at the top of the page and then select “Officials Directory”. The directory can be sorted by names or by sport.)
  • Work with your local high school and head coach of the sport in which you need officials. They can recommend those who would make good officials and can also advertise opportunities to their athletes. This can provide a great part-time job for student athletes, and they are usually quick learners.
  • Contact local official’s associations. These are officials associations throughout the state, especially in larger communities. Their main purpose is to provide officials for high school contests, but they may also have newer officials as well as veterans who will be interested in working with youth sports. You can use the MSHSL website to find associations: www.mshsl.org (select “Officials and Judges” at the top of the page and then select “General Information” and then select “Officials Associations Listings.)
  • Advertise in local newspapers or at local colleges. There are many former high school athletes attending college-this is a great part-time job for them as well.
  • Advertise through local booster clubs, Community Education, or other local organizations.
  • Work with Youth Associations in other sports. Many of the skills of officiating cross-over. A baseball umpire may also be interested and capable of being a basketball official.
  • Work through area or statewide governing associations: Minnesota Hockey, North Country Region USA Volleyball, Minnesota Youth Soccer Association, Minnesota Youth Athletic Services, etc.

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2. Provide Basic Levels of Training
(Provide Basic Levels of Training to Ensure Success for Those Who Officiate)

This is critical, both for the success of your events and programs, as well as for the retention of officials. If not properly prepared, officials will have negative experiences and are likely to quit. Using the information listed above, contact Official Associations or veteran Officials in your community and ask them to help provide basic training programs for your officials. Most MSHSL Registered Officials have the background and expertise as well as the willingness to do this. The organizations mentioned above also have training programs, or access to those who can provide training.

A basic training clinic that covers rules and rule interpretations; officiating mechanics (signals and positioning); and procedures for your organization, is a must. In addition, a mentoring program that matches new officials with more veteran officials is strongly recommended. Adult supervisors should also be used to monitor officials and provide them with constructive feedback. Remember that officiating is a skill, and, just like any other skill, it takes a lot of practice. Veteran officials constantly study the rules and learn new skills and techniques to help them improve as an official.

Minnesota Youth Athletic Services also has an “Officials Corner” that contains helpful information-www.myas.org

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3. Match Training and Experience to Competition
(Match Officials Training and Experience to the Level of Competition to Which They are Assigned)

The basic rule to follow is the younger the official, the younger level of contest. There should always be at least several years of age difference between those officiating and those playing-even for well-trained officials. Youth approximately 8th or 9th grade are capable of working with youth athletes if provided the proper training. When possible, match inexperienced officials with more experienced officials. This can be a great learning opportunity for both officials. Be careful not to move officials along too fast. One of the quickest ways to lose officials is to have them work at a level for which they are not prepared. Officials should advance to the next level gradually-just like athletes. There is no substitute for experience.

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4. Provide Reasonable Compensation for Officials

For youth sports, it is not unusual for an official to make $20-$25 per game. This could be somewhat less when working multiple games. Like any other job, the experience level of the officials and the level of game they work are key factors. Some organizations will increase pay for officials who have certification through a governing body or the Minnesota High School League.

Check with other local associations. Keep in mind the sizes of the associations and communities, officiating duties, time invested, etc. when comparing other organizations.

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5. Develop Policies to Ensure Officials are Treated with Respect

To ensure officials are treated with respect:

  • The sponsoring organization must provide backing to the officials and the decisions that they make.
  • The need for respect for the officials must be covered in pre-season meetings with coaches.
  • Codes of Conduct must be established and enforced for players, coaches, and parents.
  • Programs promoting good sportsmanship on the part of all of the above must be established.
  • Officials must be given the authority and provided the necessary training in using the tools that they have such as technical fouls, red cards, penalties, etc.
  • When there are problems of disrespect there needs to be appropriate measures taken against the coach, player, or parent.
  • Any player or coach ejected from the game should face a minimum of a one game suspension.
  • There should be adult supervision at events to help provide control for fans and to help provide support for officials.

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