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Q: What is all the fuss about "USA Certified Referees?" 
A: USA Certified Referees are trained, rated, and certified in the most current version "Rules of the Game" as well as techniques in officiating.  Certified Referees are capable of instructing and assisting player development under the current version of the USA Volleyball Rules.  Additionally, Certified Referees are trained and experienced in handling safety issues, including blood rules, etc., as well as player incidents, sanctions, and event management.
Q: Some "Certified Referees" seem to call the game totally different than others.  Why?
A: There are three different types of certified referee.  The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) certifies referees under the National Federation of State High School (NFHS) rules.  These rules are VERY different from USA Rules, and these referees may not be familiar with the USA rules or their interpretations. High school athletics encourage and require much more involvement of the referees.  The Second type of certified referee is certified under the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials (PAVO).  These officials receive very similar training to USA volleyball Officials, but their training is oriented toward play under Rules and Techniques under the National Association of Girls and Women in Sports (NAGWS). This certification is again geared toward scholastic sports, locally used in Catholic League Girls' Volleyball, and Women's' College volleyball.

While all certified officials have training in several facets of refereeing set forth above, their training is not specifically oriented toward USA Volleyball Rules and Event Management.

Q: So, how do I make sure my league has "the best" certified referees?
A: If you use USA Volleyball Rules, make sure your league requires USA Volleyball Certified Referees.
Q: Why don't all referees get certified as USA Volleyball Officials?
A: The same reason many people would like to practice law or medicine without getting their College and Graduate degrees.  It takes time, effort, money and commitment.  
Q: What do USA Certified Referees have to do?
A: In Pennsylvania, USA Certified Referees must:

1.  Become a member of the Keystone Region by filling out a form and paying annual dues of approximately $40.00

2.  Attend a Clinic, as offered between November and February, where they will receive a rules book, and specific training in both the substantive Rules and Event Management.

3.  Pass the requirements of becoming a scorekeeper, to insure they are familiar with substitution rules, rotation faults, wrong server remedies, and timing issues.

4.  Pass a written examination to confirm they are familiar with all of the above.

5.  Receive passing ratings by approved clinicians and raters while officiating USA Volleyball matches.

6.  Repeat the above process EVERY YEAR to maintain their preparation and skills at officiating.

Q: What else do I get from USA Volleyball Certified Referees?

1.  USA volleyball offers many opportunities for their referees to officiate in both youth and adult volleyball.  We are a fraternity of professionals who are committed to both the sport and each other.  When officiating at tournaments, USA Certified referees all assist and mentor each other, contributing to constant opportunities for improvement.

2.  For an additional $10.00 per year, USA Volleyball Certified Referees also carry their own insurance as officials, for any match being officiated under USA Volleyball Rules of the Game.

3.  Professional officials have no bias for or against any team.  We won't play in any league we officiate.  Because we are professionals, we do not take any normal on the court incidents personally.  By remaining neutral we are able to maintain fairness and consistency throughout games, matches and seasons.

4.  Because of their level of training and experience, you can expect USA Certified Officials to be consistent from point to point, match to match, and season to season.  Every official will make judgment within his/her own discretion, but should be consistent and predictable in every match.

5.  If you want to become a USA certified official, you should contact the Keystone Regional Volleyball Association ( or (800) 772-KRVA).

Q: Are there different ratings of USA Volleyball Certified Officials?
A: Yes.  Provisional and Regional Referees are trained and certified by the Regional Divisions of USA Volleyball, here, the KRVA.  Junior National and National Officials are trained and certified by the National Training Team, and at National level clinics.  For most Recreational Leagues, any level of current USA Certification is sufficient to do a professional job officiating at most levels of play.
Q: What if I have questions or problems with a USA Certified Official?
A: All USA Certified officials are expected to act competently and professionally in ANY refereeing environment.  If you have any problems with a USA official, you should be sure to find out his/her name, and contact the Region ( to find out whether the official acted properly.  Your question will be referred to the appropriate person for consideration.  Any decisions involving discretion, such as ball handling or "fact based" calls cannot be fairly reviewed, since one of the elements of having professional officials is that you rely on their ability to exercise fair and consistent judgment.
Q: Who's in charge, and who sets the fees?
A: The referee is in charge of the event from the time he/she arrives at the league, until the conclusion of the final match.  League Administrators, Commissioners, etc., may not overrule the Referee on calls involving the USA Rules of the Game, or Judgment Calls.  These calls are the reason leagues specify they want Certified officials.  The referees are independent contractors, just like any other professionals, and are free to charge whatever teams or leagues agree to pay.  More experienced, professional officials will always charge
Q: What's the best way to RUIN my league?
A:  Hire untrained, inexperienced and uncertified officials, and try to get them to call a "tight' game.  If you offer them the same pay you offer USA certified officials, you'll have no problem finding these referees.  The role of the Referee is to facilitate the best play of the sport, and qualified Referees will help your teams and players learn to play better by making proper and consistent calls, that the Referee can use to explain and teach proper skills.
Q: How do I get USA Certified Officials for my league?
A: With agreement of whoever manages your league, you should make a rule REQUIRING USA Certified Officials.  For best results, you should avoid having more "house rules" than safety and court conditions require.  This will improve both your league's level of play, and the officials' ability to give you their best.  Then contact the KRVA (; (800) 772-KRVA) and request a referral to a USA Certified Official in your area that will either officiate or assist in assigning USA Certified Officials for your League.  
This FAQ was prepared exclusively by Bill Jones, a USA Jr.-National; PAVO State, and former PIAA certified official.

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