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Referee Program Idea Box

Here are some ideas for recruiting and retaining referees.  Please feel free to contribute your own hits and misses to  These will be collated below so that Regions can decide what works for them.  It is just as important to share your failures as your successes: your experience can assist the next Region to either replicate your success or avoid your failure.  Please share!


Referee Points


Regions require each team to provide a certified referee to gain some advantage.  Examples: able to participate in play-offs, bonus points in standings, qualify for pizza party, etc.


  • Increased volunteer signups for referee roles.


  • A feeling of being pressured.
  • Only a short-term solution; rarely leads to long-term involvement.
  • Can create ill will.
  • Could negatively affect player enrollment as it may provide parents incentives to leave AYSO.

AYSO position:

Not recommended as a long-term solution.  Each Region should evaluate the idea on its merits.

1-Referee System

Summary: Only one certified referee is assigned at certain age groups.  Which age groups depends on the number of volunteers available and the ability of the referee.  One example is one or no referees at 6U/8U, one (experienced) referee at 10U.  Three referees at 12U and above.  Where possible, three referees are assigned to 8U/10U games to provide training/familiarity opportunities for new referees.


  • Can alleviate referee shortages.
  • Three referees are not needed for younger ages where there are fewer offenses called and games can be managed.
  • Conditions players, coaches, and parents to “go with the flow” and accept marginal decisions for offside/goal kick/corner kick/throw-in, which is a long-term benefit.


  • Parents can be unhappy.  This can be a customer service failure that can steer them away from AYSO.
  • Lack of pitch-side support for referees.
  • Usually requires experienced referees who know the rules for the age group.  This can take those experienced referees away from doing upper-division games.
  • Difficulties with decisions for ball in or out of play and offside in particular.  It’s very difficult for referees to be accurate with all decisions.

AYSO position:

Recommended for most Regions.  Unless being used as a referee development tool, realistically speaking, only one referee (with club linesmen) is needed at 10U and below.  Even club soccer (where paid referees are used) is moving towards a 1-referee system for U10 and below due to shortages in available referees.