7 top tips for developing as a referee

17th February 2020

7 top tips for developing as a referee

Learning never stops as a referee. Whether it is your 1st or 1000th time on court, there are always ways your officiating game can be raised, be it through small tweaks or big discoveries. To help with some top tips on how you can develop, we caught up with the referees who flew the flag for England at the 2019 NEVZA U17 and U19 tournaments in Denmark and Finland. 

1. Seek feedback

“Try to get every single bit of feedback and every tip from every referee you can – that is the most important thing,” is the takeaway advice from Grade 1 William Perugini, who refereed at the NEVZA U19 Championships.

“Never think that you are too good to listen to feedback. The moment you think you are done with listening to feedback is the moment you are done and will make mistakes. To keep getting better, you need to put yourself in challenging positions and always ask for advice.”

2. Get involved in a tournament with opportunities for observations

After refereeing at the NEVZA U17s tournament in Denmark, Richard Burbedge (Grade 1 National) said: “Sometimes the difficulty can come from people getting feedback from an observer but then not getting to referee for at least a month, by which time the sense of the feedback isn’t as strong and so it can be harder to implement it and to improve.

“So, I always recommend people go and referee in a day tournament with observers there. This means you can immediately utilise their feedback in the next game you will be officiating on the same day.”

Aleksander Dimitrov, who refereed alongside Richard in Denmark, added: “As a referee, I went through observations at the U16s and Inter Regionals. They would give you feedback and direct your focus on how to improve, which was very helpful. The observers can give you more specific guidance and feedback – for me, as this feedback and guidance started to get more targeted, I knew I must be doing something right!”

Officials Working Group member and referee at NEVZA U19 in Finland, Martin Shakespeare advised: “Get involved with events such as the Student Cup. This is a chance to get genuine feedback, as you will get 2-3 observations that you can learn from and look to implement the feedback into your next appointments."

3. Research situations

William said: “To new referees, I would recommend something that I often do. After a match, when I have had a specific situation, I go back to the rule book and the case book and read around the topic, it can be harder because there isn’t just one book.

“I pick a topic and read about it and even though I know the rules, I always learn a little bit, maybe I didn’t quite know something 100% before but then it is fresh in my mind. The rules and documents are not just to be read by referees before starting out, revisiting them often will help you to get ready for matches.

“Some situations don’t happen often in a match so it’s good if you are prepared and refreshed on them because you have read the rules recently and this will help you not go into panic mode but be ready to address the situation in a game.”

4. Learn from more experienced referees

“Do as much refereeing as you can with experienced referees. After matches, or at any opportunity, discuss things with these referees too and learn from their experience, knowledge and skill,” is the advice from Martin.

5. Utilise the Volleyball England Officials Academy

He added: “Keep up to date with the case book and rule book and Volleyball England Officials Academy (VEOA) – we are all guilty of not using the platform enough, whatever our level of experience. For less experienced referees, I’d recommend you use the VEOA at least every 2 weeks or before you are going to referee to keep things fresh in your mind.”

6. Contact your Regional Referee Co-ordinator

Key in the national refereeing structure are the Regional Co-ordinators, helping in their area with everything from appointments to arranging observations. If you want to step up to the next level, network with other referees or get advice, you can find the contact details of your Regional Referee Coordinator by selecting your Regional Association here.

Looking to officiate at a higher level in the NVL or beyond? Get in touch with the Officials Working Group and they can help signpost you to appointments and opportunities for your development.

7. Get equipped

Finally, Richard quipped that getting equipped is key: “Get a good whistle!”


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7 top tips for developing as a referee