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Monday, March 5, 2018

Ambassador Retreat - Referee Certification Process (Update)

There is nothing better than a good, blind referee...

I posted my notes from the title presentation about a month in Ambassador Retreat - Referee Certification Process. The "official" handouts and notes became available recently and I think it is appropriate to show those here. As a reminder, the presentation was made by Christine Barksdale. She discussed the process to be a certified referee. The information presented is shown below.

Step 1: Play pickleball and be a member in good standing of USAPA.

Step 2: Study USAPA/IFP Sanctioned Tournament Rulebook.

Step 3: Download and study the USAPA/IFP Referee Handbook.

Step 4: Participate in a referee training session conducted by a USAPA registered trainer using the Referee Trainer Guide and Referee Handbook. 

Step 5: Practice applying the USAPA Officiating Best Practices by shadowing certified referees and refereeing a minimum of 30 matches in tournaments that adhere to USAPA/IFP rules. 

Step 6: Within 14 days prior to applying for Certification pass the online Referee Test and Line Judge Knowledge Review.

Step 7: Obtain concurrence from your trainer that you are ready (unless self-trained) and apply for USAPA Referee Certification.

Step 8: If all prerequisites listed on the application have been fulfilled, you will receive an e-mail requiring confirmation that you have mastered all the evaluation criteria as specified in the attached On-Court Evaluation Process document

Step 9: Upon acceptance into the program, you will be sent an e-mail with a USAPA Store link to pay the $95 application fee online.

Step 10: When payment is confirmed you will be sent a list of currently scheduled on-court evaluation opportunities. From that list select your first and second choices of where and when you prefer to be evaluated by a USAPA Referee Certification Evaluator.

Step 11: Once your evaluation venue has been confirmed and evaluator assigned, you will be contacted by the evaluator to agree on a specific date and to provide details.

Step 12: Sign up with the tournament director or referee coordinator to referee the entire day of doubles You will not be expected to referee all day, but must be available for the required match formats.

Step 13: Be prepared to be evaluated refereeing three matches including at least one medal match with line judges and a stacking match.

Step 14: Pass or fail is based on the evaluator's observations of your ability to consistently apply the rules and officiate using best practices as well as your on-court demeanor and professionalism.

Step 15: Once you pass, your ID photo will be taken and used to order your official USAPA Certified Referee credentials package

The following notes were also provided:

  • Knowing how to play pickleball is not a requirement but highly recommended
  • Be a USAPA member 
  • Down load and study the sanctioning tournament rule book
  • Down load and study the referee handbook (a companion guide to the rule book; helps to understand how to apply the rules)
  • Participate in a referee training session conducted by a registered trainer (you can be a trainer without being a referee)
  • Practice, practice, practice (30 matches; does not have to be a sanctioned tournament; use recreation place to practice (these do not court towards your 30 matches but can be used as a practice match)). There is no time limit on doing the 30 matches; it’s whenever you are comfortable. Is there are proof required that the 30 matches have been completed? On the application it asked you which tournaments you did most of your refereeing and we contact the tournament director to confirm that you did some refereeing at their tournament.
  • You want to be in control of the match but also have fun. Usually the referee coordinator knows who the better referees are and will assign them accordingly.
  • Take and pass the on-line referee test.
  • Get concurrence from your trainer when you think you are ready to be certified. Christine will give the trainer a call to confirm that you are ready. If you say you are self trained, Christine just trusts you. We do have people that do not pass the evaluation for a variety of reasons (they get nervous, they miss common calls like foot faults, they answer the question incorrectly, they have problems with matches that have line judges, etc.).
  • Go to the USAPA website and complete the application. Once Christine receives the application she does a quick review and makes sure you have done your 30 matches, what type of training you have had and then you’ll receive an email from Christine which asks you if you are ready. If you are, you pay your $95 fee which includes the referee certification package (2 shirts, lanyard, photo credential (this is subject to change this year)).
  • Once she has that information from you, we will send you a list of tournaments that are available for you to get evaluated. We will also ask you if there is a sanctioned tournament in your area that you think would be good for you and we will get an evaluator to you if we can get at least 6 participants.
  • You can not be scheduled to play when you are getting evaluated.
  • Once your date is scheduled, you should get with your trainer to evaluate you.
  • The day of the evaluation, you must referee at least 3 matches (regular doubles match, stacking match and medal match with line judges). However, you can also do some practice matches before you are evaluated.
  • The key is to study the best practices and the rule book.
  • You will find out that day whether you are passed or failed. If you pass, the evaluator will take your picture and turn in your paperwork.
  • The certification expires every 3 years (we do not have a process in place at this point for those certification that have expired).
  • We are currently noticing that some of the referees are not keeping up with new rules and/or the best practices. Therefore, we are working on a mentoring program.
  • There is no yearly fee, just the $95 fee
We took the country and divided into 3 sections: We have a leader in each section, which will work on training and certified referees. In the East we have Jeff Shank, Fred Thompson in the Central, and John Grasso in the West (National Certified Referee Evaluator Committee (NCREC)). Their objectives are to form a committee and pull a certified referee or registered trainer or one of each from each region in their area. They are going to work with clubs and different sanctioned tournaments to focus on training. One of the things we would like to add is a benefit where if you do sanction your tournament, then we have a referee coordinator mentor or we can get a referee coordinator to your tournament. From a national perspective, Christine is working on some referee training videos. We will add some training videos on line and work with some more registered trainers and get that program built up across the country. The NCREC’s objective is to increase interest in refereeing at every level. Our target audience is players, young and old.

Question - Has there been any thought in relaxing the requirement to have a referee for every match? 

We already have a Medal Match Only (MMO) format available for people that want to run a sanctioned event and not have a referee for every match. You must have a referee for all the medal matches, the matches leading up to the medal match and all round robin matches. A lot of times what they will do for round robin is have the team sitting out do the referring and this has worked out great. You can only do this format up to 2 years and you must be working towards developing and training referees.

Question - Can you use the MMO format for regional tournaments? 

No. You must have referees for every match at a regional tournament.

Question - What about roving referees (court monitor)? 

We don’t necessarily endorse this option. It can be an option for non-sanctioned events.

Question - Some people are not cut out to be referees but now that they are paying referees at most tournaments, you will have people refereeing that are terrible and are probably doing it for the money. How do we handle this? 

We could probably do some mentoring or shadowing. Usually, the referee coordinator knows whether a person is a good referee or just a warm body on the cut and can decide not to use that person or not. If they use them, they should probably have them shadow an experienced referee. It also helps to have training prior to the start of the tournament.

Question - What is the goal concerning the concept of paying referees? 

Our goal is to be able to pay referees at all USAPA Regional and National tournaments.

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