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How To Become a Volleyball Official

Volleyball’s popularity and participation levels are increasing and so is the need for indoor and beach volleyball officials. Volleyball is also a sport you can officiate year-round via youth, school, club, adult recreation and other contests, thus there is a higher earning potential than other sports.

Things To Consider

Physical Demands

Volleyball is generally officiated by two referees and two line judges. The first referee in volleyball is positioned on an elevated platform at the side of the net opposite the officials’ table. The first referee does not move around, but they need to stand for long periods, typically 45 minutes to two hours depending on the match’s length, all while maintaining high levels of focus and alertness. The second referee stands on the floor opposite the first referee and assists in making calls, primarily focusing on play at the net. The second referee moves laterally along the sideline opposite the first referee in a 12-foot area and transitions during play with the ball. The line judges stand on opposite corners throughout the entire match and assist the first referee with in and out calls and look for touches of the ball by blockers at the net. Line judges need excellent eye sight, good judgment and agility to move up and down the sideline to get the best view of the ball and avoid collisions with players. 

Mental Demands

Volleyball is a fast sport, in a contained area. Therefore, being able to visually follow the action and see small details is very important. Volleyball officials must always maintain alertness and focus during play so as not to miss a detail. Many calls in volleyball require swift judgement without hesitation, so a decisive nature and confidence are key attributes to have or develop. A volleyball official on average makes over 1,000 decisions in a match. 


Volleyball officiating doesn’t have as many physical demands as some other sports, but you must know and understand the game well to effectively make accurate calls. You can train yourself with rule books 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.


  • Black slacks (high school.) Navy Blue slacks (USAV & NCAA) 

  • Black leather belt. 

  • Solid black athletic shoes (high school.) Solid white athletic shoes (USAV & NCAA) 

  • Black socks (high school). White socks (USAV & NCAA).  

  • White polo shirt 

  • Referee tools: A watch, whistle, net measuring device, flipping coin (size of a quarter or larger is recommended), ball gauge, air pump, red & yellow sanction cards, pen or pencil and lineup cards. 

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 $30-$35 for youth games and $75 for competitive high school games.  A volleyball official working youth, and high school 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. 

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!

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