Career Development

14 Referee Skills for Your Career and Resume

Learn about the most important Referee skills, how you can utilize them in the workplace, and what to list on your resume.

Referees are responsible for officiating sporting events and enforcing the rules of the game. They must have a good understanding of the sport they are officiating, as well as the ability to make quick decisions. Referees also need to be able to communicate effectively with players, coaches and other officials. If you’re interested in becoming a referee, understanding what skills are necessary can help you decide if this is the right career for you.

Decision Making

Referees must make quick decisions about game play, penalties and other aspects of the game. They should be able to assess a situation quickly and determine what action is appropriate. For example, if two players are arguing over a foul call, the referee may decide that they need to take a break from playing until they can calm down. The referee’s decision-making skills help them keep control of the game and ensure fair play.


Leadership is the ability to guide and motivate others. Referees are often in leadership roles during sporting events, so it’s important to be able to lead by example and encourage your team members to perform their best. You can also use your leadership skills when managing a game to ensure that all of your crew members are working together effectively.

Public Speaking

Public speaking is a necessary skill for referees because they often present information to large groups of people. They also use public speaking when explaining rules and regulations, providing feedback on performance and addressing concerns from players, coaches or spectators. Public speaking can help referees communicate effectively with others and ensure everyone understands the same information.

Rule Interpretation

Referees interpret the rules of a game to determine if an action is legal or illegal. They must understand how each sport’s set of rules works and what types of actions are allowed and which ones aren’t. For example, in soccer, it’s legal for players to touch the ball with their hands but not their feet. A referee who understands these rules can make accurate calls during games.


Referees have the authority to make decisions during a game. They must be able to enforce rules and regulations, even if they don’t agree with them. Authority is also important for maintaining control of the game when players or coaches disagree with your calls. You may need to explain why you made a certain decision so that everyone understands the reasoning behind it.

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is an important skill for referees to have, as they often need to be active during games. Referees should be able to run around the field and keep up with players throughout a game. Having physical fitness can also help you stay healthy while working long shifts or multiple days in a row.


Communication is the ability to convey information clearly and concisely. Referees must be able to communicate with players, coaches, administrators and fans in a way that everyone understands what’s happening on the field. Communication skills are also important for resolving conflicts between players or teams.

Communication involves more than just speaking; it includes reading body language and understanding nonverbal cues from others. This can help you diffuse potentially volatile situations before they escalate into physical altercations.

Time Management

Referees need to be punctual and aware of their schedule. They should arrive at the correct time for each event they officiate, whether it’s a sporting competition or an awards ceremony. Time management is also important because referees must keep track of how much time remains in each game so that they can make accurate calls. For example, if there are only two minutes left in a soccer match, a referee needs to know when to end the game even if the players haven’t scored any goals yet.


Organization is the ability to keep track of various information and resources. As a referee, you may need to remember details about different players, teams, locations and game schedules. You also need to be able to find important documents like your emergency response plan or first aid kit when needed. Keeping yourself organized can help you perform well in this role.

Stress Management

Stress management is the ability to control your emotions and remain calm in stressful situations. Referees often encounter high-pressure situations, such as when a player sustains an injury or when spectators become aggressive. Having strong stress management skills can help you stay composed during these challenging situations. You may also consider taking a class on meditation or mindfulness to improve your stress management skills.

Interpersonal Skills

Referees interact with a variety of people, including players, coaches and spectators. They must be able to communicate effectively with these individuals in order to maintain control during games. For example, referees should be able to diffuse heated situations between players or teams by using their interpersonal skills. They also need to be friendly and approachable when interacting with fans and other game attendees.


Objectivity is the ability to remain impartial and unbiased. Referees must be able to make decisions based on what they observe, not their personal feelings or opinions. For example, if a player complains about an opponent’s actions, a referee should be able to assess whether those actions were against the rules of the game. Being objective can help referees maintain control during heated situations and ensure fair play for all players.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is the ability to diffuse a situation and help people come to an agreement. Referees often use their conflict resolution skills when they’re managing heated arguments between players or coaches. They also use this skill when making decisions about penalties, as some teams may feel that the referee made the wrong choice. Having strong conflict resolution skills can help referees diffuse these situations and keep everyone happy.

Sports Knowledge

Sports knowledge is an important skill for referees to have, as it allows them to understand the rules of a game and how they should enforce those rules. Having sports knowledge can also help referees make quick decisions during games, such as knowing when a player needs medical attention or what action warrants a penalty.

To develop their sports knowledge, referees can read books about different sports, watch professional sporting events and attend workshops on various topics in sports.

How Can I Learn These Referee Skills?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to learn referee skills will vary depending on the individual. However, some suggestions for learning referee skills include studying the rules of the sport you wish to officiate, attending referee clinics and workshops, and shadowing or working with experienced referees. Additionally, developing strong communication, interpersonal, and time management skills will also be beneficial in becoming a successful referee.


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