The Memories & Spirit of the Game, as only Ken Aston could teach it...
Enjoy, your journey here on...
Preparing and Training…
Andrew Castiglione
Founder of Ken Aston Referee Society

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If you're already a certified AYSO/USSF Referee.... that's great! This page has suggestions for things you can do to become a better Referee. Of course, not all of these are for everyone. Some folks help out for a year or so when their kids are young and then drop out; other folks take up soccer Refereeing as a serious hobby, for the fun of it. Most are somewhere in between. But all of us, while we are Refereeing, will enjoy it more and do a better job for the kids if we improve our skills some. This page has some ideas for how to do that - follow them as far as your energy and enthusiasm keeps them fun for you.

There are five different kinds of things that you can do to improve your refereeing:

- Take a class about Refereeing - maybe even upgrade ,
- Arrange to be mentored in your Refereeing skills,
- Read a book or watch a video about Refereeing,
- Watch some good soccer, and
- Work on your fitness for Refereeing.

Classes and Clinics

Clinics provide a great way to refresh, reinforce and extend your Law and refereeing knowledge. They are one of the very few places where you can bring all those questions that puzzle you and get answers. The Region (and the surrounding units of AYSO) provides classes and clinics for all levels of Referee. Consult your camp clinic schedule for details, time and places.


Some clinics are designed to prepare you to upgrade your Referee badge (to a "Area", "Section", or "National" level). If you have held your current badge for a year or so, and particularly if you plan to start Refereeing older players soon, we highly recommend that you upgrade to the next level of Referee badge. Ideally, the Referees working each age group would be qualified as follows:

With Referees starting each age group at the minimal level and upgrading before they move up to the next age group.

Of course, having a higher level badge won't in itself make you a better Referee - there are many fine Referees with only Regional badges and some "not so fine" ones with higher level badges. But going for an upgrade does help - it exposes you to the issues that will be of concern with older players; it will challenge you to polish your Law knowledge; and it will give you a chance to get formally observed doing a game by a more experienced Referee, who can help you with your technique. If you might be interested in upgrading, review the requirements for each level of Referee Certification , plan on attending an upgrade clinic , and get in touch with the Region Referee Administrator who will be happy to guide you through the process.


Experienced Referees often make themselves available to observe other Referees on the field and to give them constructive feedback. This is a great way to receive good coaching, learn new techniques, become more aware of different aspects of the game and your role in it, and improve your performance as a Referee. If you would like to mentor or be mentored, contact the Region Referee Administrator.

If you really want to own your own library of this material, the following stores carry referee books, instructional videos, referee clothing, etc...

- Law Five, Inc. at 1-888-279-2208
- Official Sports International at 1-800-782-2614

These are not affiliated with or endorsed by AYSO, USSF, FIFA and the Ken Aston Referee Society and or it's members. Presented here for your convenience only!

...or you could even browse some Web pages too!

There's a very wide range of referee material here, on the Web, of very diverse quality. In addition to the official FIFA , USSF , and AYSO sites, many organizations and individuals (like us!) have posted their thoughts. Any search engine asked for "soccer referee" will return a screen full (or twenty). Alternatively, you could visit Soccer Referee Related Links which are on Google, Yahoo, Bing over 600-1000 plus links to soccer Referee pages from all over the world.

One site of special note is... Ask a Referee which is organized by Jim Allen (Past - Director of Assessment for the USSF Referee program). The answers to questions that are posted there are not "official" USSF rulings, but they are written by some of the same people who make those rulings.

Finally, there are (2) two online email-distributed discussion lists that can broaden your perspective on Refereeing. The first is SOCREF-L, a list devoted to Soccer Refereeing. It receives contributions from all over the world, from Referees at all levels of sophistication (from Jim Allen on down), on all aspects of refereeing. Just watching the discussion flow by is an education. To subscribe, click on this link here... SOCREF-L.ORG and follow the instructions. The second discussion list is AYSO-L which, as its name suggests, focuses on AYSO-related matters. The discussion isn't limited to refereeing and extends into topics on regional management, education programs, National policies, Referee recruitment and many other matters. The list has a number of regular participants whose views and experience are worth learning about, and some of the AYSO National staff monitor it. To subscribe, visit the AYSO-L Webpage Page for AYSO-L and follow the instructions.

Two caveats about these lists. First, the quality of information is highly variable, so be wary of acting on anything you read without getting confirmation from reliable local sources. Second, SOCREF-L can run to 100 messages a day, and AYSO-L sometimes has several dozen. Many subscribers get the list in "digest" form (a once a day batch) rather than as separate messages, so as not to lose control of their mailboxes. The introductory message you receive as a subscriber tells you how to do this. Or, one can just do it when your subscribing to that service.

Watching Soccer

Watching good soccer is both fun and slowly builds up an appreciation of the "spirit" of the game which is hard to get just from books and clinics. We have lots of choices, both on TV and locally.

Soccer on TV

Whereas, even a few years ago, there was almost no first class soccer shown on American television, now there is a steady stream of European, South and Central American, and World Cup qualifying games available, not to mention games from the US professional league (Major League Soccer), and soak it all in!

Local Soccer

Seeing soccer live, rather than on TV, has one great advantage - you can watch what you're interested in (the refereeing!) rather than what the cameras choose to show you. And, there's some quite good soccer available to watch locally.

- Your local Major League Soccer team!!!

- The local Women's or Men's Soccer Association team.

- College Soccer is a little less exalted, but it's still full of interest from an officiating point of view (games are occasionally officiated by our local FIFA referees), it's fun to watch too!

- There are also a variety of other University Soccer teams in your Area, not to mention adult leagues and a variety of youth "select" teams whose games can be watched and learned from.


Referees run... Referees run!!!  We run to follow play so as to be well-positioned to see what is happening, and to intervene if necessary. The more easily we can do this, the better we will be able to call the game.

For the very youngest age groups, this is no problem at all. But, as "When you're fit..." points out, this gets harder as the players (and the referees!) get older. Sooner or later, and it really ought to be sooner, most of us will need to work on our fitness.

Of course, many of us already have fitness programs of some sort. And for most of us, a simple, light (but regular!) exercise regime that includes light running will easily do what's needed. But, if you have doubts, look at the pages How fit? which tells you how to measure your fitness against the demands of the various AYSO player age groups, and Get fit! which contains some advice about what to do if the results are not what you might have hoped.

Also, look at Doug Semark's "Presence Lends Conviction Page" a presentation from the Spring 1997 Section Meetings. This has stretching and warm-up exercises that make a fine light workout, as well as a great pre-game.

Now's the time to redeem that New Year's resolution - start a gentle workout regime now, so you can outrun the kids in the Fall! 

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