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The Referee’s Job

Making the game fun, fair and safe for every player, coach and fan.  You can see more at

Referees in AYSO:

AYSO is a volunteer driven, child development program that works through the creation of family oriented soccer programs for our kids.  The Referee’s job is to be the official in charge of the match at every game.  He is the independent arbiter and manager of the match.  His authority extends to everyone at the field, including players, substitutes, team officials, spectators, and even assistant referees. 


The Referee’s #1 job is to keep the game as safe as possible for the players.  While there is risk in all sports, the referee is responsible for minimizing such risks from field conditions, equipment, spectators, and the players.


The Referee is responsible for enforcing the Laws of the Game in such a way as to keep the game Safe, Fair & Fun.  He interferes with the game as little as possible, avoiding making calls for doubtful and trifling offenses.  Referees only make calls for offenses they are sure occurred.


We want our kids to continue to play.  They keep playing as long as it is fun.  Referees learn that fun soccer varies from age group to age group of players.

Who are AYSO Referees?


AYSO Referees are volunteers, just like the coaches, administrators, field workers, and almost all others involved with AYSO.  Most Referees are parents or relatives of the players.  Many players are themselves youth referees.


AYSO referees range in experience from beginners to very experienced.  Every year we train hundreds of new referees to help the kids with their games.  Beginners usually start with the youngest players and frequently work as an Assistant Referee before being in charge of a game as a Referee.  On the other end of the spectrum, several of America’s highest ranked referees started in AYSO and sometimes referee AYSO games.

Why you should become an AYSO Referee:

 We need you.  We can’t have games without referees.  More importantly, it’s rewarding.  Working with the kids is great fun.

Why don’t we pay our Referees?

 It doesn’t work.  AYSO is a low cost, volunteer driven program.  Even programs that do pay their referees have a chronic shortage.

How are AYSO Referees Trained?


Every AYSO referee receives both classroom and on-the-field training.  In fact, referee training at any given level has more hours than coach training for that same level.  Every class addresses the Laws of the Game, psychological issues for players of various ages, and practical refereeing.  Each class also includes a test covering the Laws and course material.

Badge Levels:

New referees start with badges of Regional, U-8, or Assistant Referee.  With additional training, Referees move up to badge levels of Intermediate, Advanced, and National.


All referees are encouraged to help each other.  This mentoring can be informal between members of a referee crew, or more formally arranged through a region’s referee management team.  Mentoring beginning referees is a major goal in every region.


Assessors review the work on the field of upper level referees as a part of each badge level upgrade.  The assessors are experienced referees trained in helping referees develop their skills in both game and player management.


AYSO has an extensive Instructor training effort to assure that the teachers in our referee classes are the best available both with respect to referee skills and with respect to teaching capabilities.

How are AYSO Referees Managed?


Each year new referees are recruited in each region to replace retiring referees and to accommodate program growth.  Recruits are found at registration, games, through teams and otherwise.  The next step for a new recruit is training, as discussed above.


Getting the right referees to the games is a major management task in every region.  Referees are encouraged to work a variety of player levels to facilitate their learning by seeing a range of game situations.


As referees gain experience, each is encouraged to develop at his/her own pace.  The more a referee trains and develops, the better he/she will do on the field for the kids and generally, the more fun the referee will have on the field.

Quality Control:

Not everyone does a good job every time they take on a task.  Not everyone is well suited to refereeing in youth soccer.  While a referee’s authority at a field for a single game is final, the referee management team in every region is always interested in getting feedback to help identify referees that need additional mentoring, training, or reassignment.

History Of AYSO

The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) was established in the Los Angeles area in 1964 with nine teams. It was the dream of a group of devoted soccer enthusiasts who started the organization in a garage. Today, AYSO has more than 50,000 teams and more than 650,000 players.