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The Basics You Need to Know as a Soccer Referee

Soccer season never really ends, which is why there is almost always an opening for a volunteer soccer referee. Those opportunities can grow into professional positions, if you enjoy the work, but most referees start out at the local level. There, they learn the game and acquire all the soccer referee gear they need to stay prepared throughout their careers on the pitch. Here is  a basic primer for anyone looking to become a soccer referee. [READ MORE] 


Try and develop a routine to work out, and include plenty of cardio in that routine. As a referee, you’ll need to be able to run along with players making their way up and down the field. It’s physically demanding, so be sure you’re in shape before you take the job. Even a sideline referee will need to be able to sprint quickly to follow the action.


Soccer referee equipment is a little different from the average player. They will need some tools to do their job, and some clothes that differentiate them from any other player on the field. Often, referees will wear some kind of fluorescent vest or shirt, designating them as an official. The official uniforms usually consist of a shirt and socks, where you have the option to choose which shorts you’ll wear. Referee shorts are best, because they have large pockets for all the equipment you’ll need to carry.

Other soccer apparel you’ll need includes either turf shoes or cleats that are black in color (that part is also important). You’ll also need both red and yellow cards, and should keep each in a certain pocket so you know when to reach and don’t pull the incorrect card. The one caveat is the whistle. Mostly, a whistle is a pretty trivial piece of equipment unless you’re on a field with multiple whistles blowing. In that case, you’ll need your own distinct sound so players can know when to stop play.

Double Checking

You should be very familiar with the basic rules and structure of a soccer game. Understand how long a half will be, how and when substitutions are allowed, who brings the game card, and when to disqualify a player. You should also be aware of what happens to the game card after the match, and you should also know how to handle a red card situation.

Referees have a code of conduct too. Stand by your colleagues and make sure you’re not disputing calls made by the head ref on the field. Not every referee is perfect, and all of us make subjective calls. Lastly, watch games. The best way to effectively call a game is to watch one and see what dynamics referees look for.