It is the coach’s responsibility to be in possession of the Medical Release Forms at all practices and games. Referees are not required, nor recommended, to ask coaches to prove that they have players’ Medical Release Forms in their possession at games. Referees should not require coaches to produce the forms at matches as this would, in effect, put the referee in the position of assuming a responsibility that properly belongs with the coach.
They are us: volunteers. Many referees start when their children are young and move up with them. Referee training is provided for all age groups and levels.
AYSO is a volunteer organization; we all do it for the kids. Each season we need as many referees as coaches if not more. Refereeing is easier and less of a time commitment. AYSO is about playing Fun, Fair and Safe. Our referee training is what makes it possible. If there is no official to referee a game the kids don’t get to play.
It is the practice of almost all AYSO Regions to provide a free uniform to the volunteers who become certified referees in their Region. If not provided by your Region, referee uniforms are available from a variety of sources. We recommend supporting our National Sponsors like SCORE and The AYSO Store. You will be provided a badge by your Region upon completing the relevant referee course.
Official Referee Uniform
“New-style” yellow jersey (short or long sleeve); black shorts; black socks with two stripe middle; black shoes with black laces (may have white manufacturer’s logo). Both “Pro” style jerseys with a zipper and “Economy” style jerseys with a ‘v’ neck are acceptable. “Old-style” jerseys and socks are still acceptable , but are being phased out of use.
Green jersey with black stripes (long or short sleeve).
Red jersey with black stripes (long or short sleeve).
Blue jersey with black stripes (long or short sleeve).
Black jersey with white stripes (long or short sleeve).
There is no order of preference among the alternate jerseys. The other parts of the referee uniform (shorts, socks, shoes) do not change if the referee wears an alternate shirt.
Report all incidents in which a coach or a spectator behaves in a way that makes a game something other than a safe, positive, enjoyable growth experience for the children to your Referee Coordinator or Referee Administrator.
There are the six certification levels for AYSO referees. Here is a brief description of the requirements for each. Contact your Regional Referee Administrator (RRA) for more details:
(minimum age 10)
Complete the U-8 Official Course and pass the U-8 Official Exam.
(minimum age 12)
Complete the Assistant Referee Course and pass the Assistant Referee Exam.
(minimum age 12)
Complete the Regional Referee Course and pass the Regional Referee Exam.
There is an online version and an in-person option for Regional Certification.
(minimum age 14)
Complete 25 games as referee with at least five in U-12 games, complete the Intermediate Referee Course, pass the Intermediate Referee Exam and be (observed) mentored in a U-12 game.
(minimum age 16)
Complete 50 games as referee with at least 10 in U-14 and five as an assistant referee (in U-14), complete the Advanced Referee Course, pass the Advanced Referee Exam, pass one assessment as referee and one as assistant referee in a U-14 match, pass the AYSO Physical Fitness Test.
(minimum age 18)
Complete 100 games as referee with at least 30 in U-16 and U-19 games and 25 as Assistant Referee with at least 10 in U-19, complete the National Referee Course, pass the National Referee Exam, pass two assessments as referee in U-16 or U-19 matches and one as assistant referee in a U-19 match, complete the AYSO Physical Fitness Test.
A steward is someone entrusted with safeguarding, protecting, watching over. AYSO launched the concept of Stewards of the Game in order to make player safety the number one priority on game day. Coaches from each team and the referees are asked to work together as a team of stewards to focus on player safety including pre-game player equipment checks, field inspections, review of concussion protocols as well as checking in with each other at game stoppages.
Stewards of the Game are also asked to help maintain kids zone sideline behavior and to promote good sportsmanship.
USSF and AYSO have modified their recommendations related to the use of referee caps to enhance their support for the health and safety of referees. The detailed information along with some good tips can be found here
If a referee wears a cap, the following requirements apply:
- The cap must not endanger the safety of the official or the players.
- The cap should be solid black or predominately black color.
- The cap may display the logo of AYSO (preferred), USSF, or FIFA, but should not display other logos, slogans, or commercial marks.
No, but some familiarity with soccer is certainly a plus. Coaches, parents, players and other volunteers have all proved to be excellent referees even if they have never played soccer. Youth referees are especially welcome!
Yes, it is more than OK. Players are encouraged to become referees. It can even help them to become better players!
The Player Referee Organization (PRO) is a program designed to help teenage players become a referee. PRO referees are provided training, mentoring, and opportunities to challenge themselves. Teenage referees gain a variety of benefits from being a referee, including self-confidence, assertiveness, problem-solving skills and increased communication abilities. The training and time refereeing games can also earn them community service points, as AYSO is a non-profit, volunteer, community organization.
I am a soccer player and understand the game very well; can I just take the certification test and avoid some or all of the beginning course?
The online Regional Referee Training can help cut the classroom time by providing you the opportunity to complete the course at your own pace and in your own home. All new referees then have to do is take the in-person Online Companion Course component in order to take the certification exam. Many of those who have played the game and think they know the Laws of the Game are surprised to find out how much there is to learn when they actually start studying to become a referee. Attending a face to face training course with an experienced instructor is a valuable learning experience.
You must first complete an AYSO volunteer application and be approved as an AYSO volunteer by your local AYSO Region. Once you are approved as a volunteer, the training to become an AYSO referee is provided to you for free. You should contact your AYSO Region’s Referee Administrator to get more information about the training schedule for referees in your Region. See Volunteer Requirements for more information.
There is no requirement to referee younger players before refereeing older players. You may request referee assignments at whatever age level you feel comfortable. Refereeing at the various age levels requires different skills and just because the players are young doesn’t necessarily mean the games are easier – they are different! Managing six or seven year-olds (and their parents) and managing 14 or 15 year-olds requires different skills. Your Region and Referee Administrator will help you find the right level.
Yes. There is no rule prohibiting a referee from refereeing their own child’s game. This can be especially common at the younger age groups. It can be a challenge to recruit referees, and regions vary greatly in their ability to cover officiating needs without using referees who are affiliated with the teams. In some situations when there is a shortage of referees, having a parent officiate their own child’s game may be the only option. Since no simple rule can cover all the scheduling complexities that regions across the country face, AYSO leaves referee scheduling policies to the regions and areas.
Are referees required to see a “Participation Release Form” before allowing a player to participate in games following a known serious injury or sickness which required professional medical attention?
No, this is not the referee’s responsibility. It is the coach’s responsibility to see and provide the Region Safety Director and/or Regional Commissioner with a copy of the form.
The AYSO National Rules and Regulations prohibit players from participating in practices or games while wearing a cast or splint (even with a doctor’s permission). However, there is no such prohibition for referees to officiate while wearing a brace, cast or splint even if they are youth referees. The likelihood of an injury to players occurring from contact with the referee’s brace, cast or splint is very remote. Some padding on a cast may add a measure of protection.