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Friday, October 28, 2016

Referee Certification

The last 3 posts have been about pickleball refereeing and why you should do it. This post will be last about refereeing for awhile. I promise. This post will discuss and highlight the USAPA program to train and certify referees. Anyone who wants to give refereeing a try would greatly benefit from getting certified or, at a minimum, reviewing the materials.

Rather than go through the certification process here, I will refer you to the USAPA website for information. Be forewarned that some of the materials require USAPA membership - yet another reason to join. The information can be found at by hovering over "Rules and Referees", then "Referee Materials" and selecting the appropriate topic. This post discusses "Referee Handbook", which opens with the following paragraph:

Introduction and Purpose 

Refereeing can be easy and fun! The more thoroughly you know the rules and the more matches you referee using the standardized, tried-and-tested techniques contained in this handbook, the easier it becomes. The USAPA/IFP Referee Handbook is intended as a guide for referees at all levels of officiated pickleball events, and encompasses both singles and doubles play. The procedures, techniques and tips in this Referee Handbook are based on the IFP Rules, as well as the experiences of seasoned referees who regularly officiate USAPA sanctioned tournaments. Accordingly, this handbook documents the USAPA officiating standards and procedures, and serves as the official resource for referee training and reference.

The contents of the handbook are a comprehensive description of a referee's tasks. The table of contents is:

Section I: Responsibilities and Code of Conduct

Section II: Referee Tools: Scoresheet, etc.
Section III: Basic Refereeing Procedures: How to referee a match.
Section IV: Keeping Track of Servers
Section V: Common On-Court Situations: Scenarios often faced by referees.
Section VI: Uncommon On-Court Situations: Scenarios occasionally faced by referees.
Section VII: Summary
Section VIII: Line Judging Procedures: Guidelines for Line Officials.
Appendix A: Pre-Match Briefing
Appendix B: Recognizing Illegal Service Motion
Appendix C: Sample Scoresheets
Appendix D Preparing for On-Court Evaluation
Appendix E: Ten Steps to Becoming a Certified Referee
Appendix F: Benefits of Certification

That should give you  good idea of the topics. But that isn't my focus. Certification is, so I'll skip to the last 2 sections.

Ten Steps to Becoming a Certified Referee

1. Play pickleball and be a member in good standing of USAPA.
2. Study IFP/USAPA rules (
3. Score 90% correct, or higher, on USAPA online Referee Test.
4. Download and study USAPA Referee Handbook ( – Rules & Referees).
5. Shadow experienced referee and referee non-tournament play for practice.
6. Complete locally administered USAPA referee training from a registered trainer.
7. Referee local tournaments to hone your skills and fulfill certification experience requirements.
8. Obtain recommendation from trainer and apply for USAPA certification.
9. Pass on-court evaluation by USAPA Referee Certification Evaluation Committee.
10. Receive USAPA Certified Referee credentials package.

Finally, what are the benefits?

Benefits of Certification (subject to change)

1. Personal pride of being acknowledged as a competent referee who has met USAPA certification requirements.
2. Confidence that you know the USAPA/IFP referee standards and procedures and have successfully demonstrated your mastery of them to the USAPA Referee Certification Evaluation Committee.
3. USAPA Certified Referee credentials: certified referee shirt, photo name badge, stopwatch, checklist, etc.
4. Listing on Certified Referee list, by region.
5. USAPA-provided liability insurance.
6. One-time certification acknowledgement in the USAPA newsletter/Pickleball Magazine.
7. First choice to referee at USAPA managed events (National and Regional tournaments).
8. First choice to referee at other prestigious tournaments: ToC, Huntsman, etc.*
9. First choice to referee medal matches. *
10. Financial benefits: First choice for referee assignments at tournaments in which referees are compensated. *
11. First choice to referee any tournament.*
* Tournament Director’s decision

The bottom line is that I would encourage anyone interested in tournament pickleball to look into becoming a referee. It helps you and it helps the game.


  1. After getting qualified how much does it cost..? Is this amount paid yearly or/and is there payment due for renewal..? Do you have to take the test every year?

    1. There are costs to get certified - application fees and testing fees. To the best of my knowledge, there are no additional costs for the next year. There are annual renewal afterward of $120. There are no additional tests but some ongoing educational requirements - again to the best of my knowledge. I'll know more after being certified. I suggest visiting for additional information.

  2. In today's pickle ball tournament, non-sanctioned retirement community, a stray ball rolled onto the court of another game, a spectator tried to retrieve ball before it rolled onto court, he did not succeed & stepped onto court during match play. Only the 2 players whose side of the court the spectator stepped on saw what happened as their opponents were playing the point. The 2 players who saw spectator made no call, but it was obvious they stopped play as many people called "BALL!" The tournament director called "LET" & stopped play, there were no refs or line judges, was this wrong to stop play?