Referee FAQ

How do I get comfortable out there?
Which courses do I need to take?
Can I referee older divisions without upgrading to Regional or Intermediate Referee?
Can I skip safe haven or concussion awareness?
How do I sign up to referee a game once I am certified?
Can I referee my child's game?
Where do I get the referee uniform and equipment?
Do I have to commit to referee a minimum number of games?
What if the center ref position would be too stressful for me?
What if English isn't my first language?
Can my child referee?
Can I take the referee classes online?

What other training do you offer?
Will my kid be proud of me?

Why do so many referees continue even after their child has aged out of WSSL?
Who is my division head?
When will I know what team my child is on?

A: We understand! We've all been there!

Guess what? the younger players don't know anything about soccer either! So you can begin by refereeing in the youngest divisions, and you and the players can grow together. In addition, we offer mentoring, support, a friendly face at the game, whatever you need. Our divisional chief referees and other experienced Referees, are ready to get you the support you need in order to feel comfortable. Please ask us!

A: Becoming a referee in WSSL and AYSO happens in stages.

1. Take AYSO Safe Haven course once in your career. This 1 hour course is the first requirement for all volunteers, both coaches and referees. You can take it either as part of referee school or coaching school. If you have never taken this course before, you should take it when it is net offered.It gives you information which protects you under the Volunteer Act of 1997, and it also teaches you important things about AYSO and WSSL's shared culture of child development.
2. Take the U-8 Official course once in your career. This 2 1/2 hour course teaches you about game management and certain simplified rules which make the game Safe, Fair and Fun for the players. You should take this course AFTER you have taken Safe Haven. After taking thesequence of Safe Haven and U8 Official, you will be qualified to referee in U-6, U-7, and U-8 games.
3. Take Upgrade to Basic Referee Course once in your career. This 4 hour course gets into the nuts and bolts of refereeing older children. It provides you with in-depth information about fouls, restarts, and (deep breath) - offside. It teaches you the WSSL culture of protecting the goalkeeper. And it introduces you the 3-person referee team - the signals, the communication skills, and the underlying camaraderie. After taking the sequence of Safe Haven, U-8 Official, and Upgrade to Basic, you will be qualified to referee in our U-9 through U-19 divisions (although we hope that you will come back to take our Intermediate and Advanced Courses as your children get older, and of course we are always glad to see you come back to any of these courses for a refresher!).

A: The content of Upgrade to Basic is very different from the content of the U-8 Official class. So, in order to make yourself comfortable and do the best job for the players in the older divisions, yes, you must take the Upgrade to Basic course, in addition to Safe Haven and U-8 Official, when you and your child move into the U-9 and older divisions.

A: Without this course, you will not be protected under the Volunteer Act of 1997, and AYSO's insurance policies will not protect you. So you must take the course.

A: WSSL uses an online scheduling system that allows you to choose the games that work for your schedule.

A: At the younger ages we are flexible. Referee your own child's games if that works for you. (Although that means that you can't take pictures!).

As your children advance, you will find that they become aware that there is "an issue" with parents refereeing their own children's games. At the U-9 level and above, we will ask you to be Center Referee for the game directly before or directly after your own child's game. As an Assistant Referee, we are happy to have you work the game your child is playing in, however.

A: Once you complete your training, you will be provided with a free uniform (including shirt, shorts, and socks), badge, whistle, flags, stopwatch and a copy of the most current edition of the Laws of the Game. You provide the shoes.

A: We are happy to have you referee the number of games that works for you, but we suspect that once you get the bug, you will want to referee more rather than less.

We also know that the more referees we have, the fewer games each one has to do in order to have a fully-covered weekend. If every team has two parents or older sibs who are active refs, two games every four weeks completely covers our schedule for our U-6, U- and U-8 divisions. For our U-9 and older divisions, three games every four weeks would cover our schedule.

A: In our U-9 and older divisions, our goal is to field 3 person referee teams for every game. A 3-person team consists of one Center Referee and two Assistant Referees. The AR needs to know the laws of the game, and gets the same training as a CR, but focuses on specific aspects of the game, primarily offside, and ball out of play. While the AR job requires knowledge and training, it does carry less stress than CR (and we need 2 ARs per game!). So please think about committing to be an AR even if you don't (initially) want to be a CR.

A: In class we have Spanish-language versions of the tests, and will be happy to make those available to you. On the field we all speak Soccer!

A: Yes, of course! We welcome youth referees - minimum age of 10 for U-8 and 12 for Upgrade to Basic. We have a Youth Referee coordinator, who provides mentoring and support to the young referees - meeting them at the field, introducing them to the coaches and players, and making sure that the experience is a positive one.

Ideally, a youth referee develops a relationship with a particular division (B-8, G-7, etc.), and becomes a respected member of that division's referee corps.

A: AYSO offers an online referee course, but after investigation, we have found that this course still requires hours of classroom time. WSSL has chosen to stay with the full classroom sequence rather than try to mix and match online and classroom training.

A: We offer Referee Q&A sessions at least once a season. A group of referees gets together to discuss a question or two, talk shop, and swap stories. We also offer various types of mentoring on the pitch for those referees who want to receive some feedback about what you are doing well and what you might be able to do better.

A: Yes. More than Yes.

A: Because we like it! And we would love to have you share the experience.

A: A list of division heads can be found here.

A: Information about team formation can be found here. Contact your division head. Usually teams are posted a couple of weeks before the season starts.

A: Check the division information here. This is the list of what we HOPE will happen, but sometimes we have to change fields and days depending on registration numbers and permit availability.

A: Your division head will accommodate twin siblings, but otherwise will only accommodate children of a coach/assistant coach team, so please don't ask.

One of our guiding principles is balanced teams, and making accommodations makes the balanced team task too complicated. Also please realize that your division head is a volunteer, and some divisions have as many as 300 players. Your child will get a chance to make new friends by playing with whatever teammates he or she is assigned.

A: This can happen at any time before the start of the season. In addition, there may be dropouts after the start of the season, so hang tough and have faith! Please contact your division head for information, as they are the only people who can answer this question for your division.

A: No. The earrings cannot go on the field, so please plan those piercings accordingly.

A: As a matter of safety, AYSO and WSSL prohibit players from wearing any jewelry. This includes rings, watches, friendship bracelets, earrings, and any other form of jewelry. Medic alert bracelets are explicitly permitted, though they must be taped to the skin with clear tape.

A: They are okay for both players and referees on artificial turf fields, but not on grass fields, which in effect means that the younger divisions (and referees for their games) cannot wear cleats, as most of them play on grass fields. Turf shoes and sneakers are okay on any of our fields, artificial or natural grass.

A: Yes. They are available at most sporting goods stores, and if you go to Upper 90, mention that you are a WSSL family, and you may be eligible for a discount. Also your division head may have some extra pairs available.

A: We can use your talent! Most division heads need administrative help. Please introduce yourself, either in person or by email, and watch your division head smile! We also need administrative volunteers at the league level to help with registration, document management (which can be done from home at odd hours), and other management tasks. And we need speakers of languages other than English, particularly Spanish.

To volunteer for league level jobs, please send an email to We will also send out periodic emails to volunteers who have checked "administration" as their volunteer preference, letting you know about opportunities to serve the league in a variety of jobs small and large.

A: You can opt out of receiving any emails from WSSL by going to your family profile and following the directions to opt out. Please understand that this means you won't get any email at all from WSSL, and you will not know when your child's team is organizing events, and you won't get reminder emails in the future regarding registration periods, additional programs, and other useful information.

A: Please be patient. We want to make sure we catch every one. We would hate to have someone miss the chance to play because we missed them in the email we send out.