So you want to become a game official. It might have been something you’ve been thinking about for years, or you could have decided that you need a change of pace. Whatever your reason, though, it can be hard to know where to start.

It doesn’t matter if your sport of choice is football, soccer, volleyball, softball, baseball, or basketball—in general, the process is the same. The National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) has a few pieces of advice for aspiring game officials and referees. Here are the three biggest things to keep in mind:

Go to Local Games

You can’t officiate a sport that you don’t watch, of course. Seeing the game in action is good for anyone, and seeing them often will keep you in shape. In addition, though, you’ll have a good opportunity to talk to game officials. Make sure to ask what association they belong to and get some contact information for them. These associations are how referees and game officials get their training and game assignments, and it gives them a community, as well.

Get in Touch with the Associations

Talking to game officials in your area is a good first step. Get as much information as you can about your local officiating associations. Association meetings happen periodically and discuss the rules, mechanics, and the philosophy of the games. You might know a lot about sports, but officials have to think in a different way, and it helps to get in touch with people who know this intimately.

Attend Association Meetings

Now that you know what officiating association meetings are for and what they talk about, it’s time to go to some. More than that, though, get engaged. You can’t learn unless you ask a lot of questions, so take advantage of these meetings. If you’re not clear about rules, mechanics, positioning, or something else in the rules, ask. It’s better to ask questions and show that you’re engaged and ready to build the proper foundation to be a game official than to make bad calls or damage your career later.

Game Official Training

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