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How To Become a Basketball Official

Basketball officiating is great if you are interested in being constantly active and closely involved with the game action. Basketball is also a sport you can officiate nearly year-round via school, club, AAU and amateur contests and therefore has a higher earning potential than many other sports.

Things To Consider

Physical Demands

Basketball officials are moving constantly. There are no opportunities for rest while play is ongoing because basketball officials need to adjust their positions constantly to see the action as player positions shift. You will run between 1 and 4 miles during a competitive basketball game. Most basketball games take place indoors, but because of the activity level, hydration is something basketball officials take seriously. As the players you’re officiating get older and the competitive levels increase, the physical demands also increase.

Mental Demands

Basketball officials work with one or sometimes two or three partners. You will shift between the lead position and the trail or center position many times per game, and thus, your responsibilities will change constantly. Basketball officials are also closer to the players, coaches and the fans than in other sports and must be able to focus and ignore distractions. You will also need to be able to handle hearing verbal criticism from the stands and sometimes communicate with coaches. Teamwork and support for and from your partners is crucial to success in basketball officiating.

Training

Basketball requires officials to move to different positions around the court, and be responsible for watching different parts of the action depending on where they are. To maximize your success, you’ll have to learn all these positions well. You can train yourself with rulebooks and manuals from the Referee Training Center, but you should also join a local officials association, such as RAOA, where you can expect real game education, demonstrations and exercises that will prepare you for what you’ll face.  Additionally, there are many camps offered during the Summer that will help you prepare.

Gear

  • Black, athletic shoes.

  • Black socks.

  • Black beltless slacks.

  • The new shirt (gray) is now required for all high school games in Minnesota

  • A FOX40 whistle and a lanyard.

Estimated cost: $200. Once you join local officiating association, such as RAOA, there may be veteran officials who are willing to give or sell you “hand–me–downs” to help you get geared up at a reduced cost.

Here is a link for to a few online retailers.  Please note, RAOA is not affiliated with any of the them, they are simply suggestions for gear and clothing

Game Fees

Game fees vary widely based on the players’ age group, and competitive level The fees range from $25-$40 for youth games and $50-$85 for competitive high school games. To maximize your income, you can work a combination of levels several days a week, including weekend tournaments where you can work games all day. You can also work adult amateur, club and AAU basketball year-round to make reliable income. A basketball official working youth, high school and adult amateur games, with a full schedule, can make several hundred dollars per week outside their normal jobs. College officials make more and game fees increase with the level of competition. Many high level college officials and professional officials do not have other jobs, and live on their officiating income.

When you're ready to become an official, head on over to RAOA application page and fill out the form.  You'll be glad you did!