Earning a certification as an official is similar to a licensing or credentialing process. A certification is a recognizable indication of the experience and competence of the individual in this field.

Volleyball officials' certifications are offered by both PAVO and USA Volleyball PAVO certifications are primarily associated with women's collegiate volleyball. Learning and applying the rules and techniques for this level of play can result in being selected to officiate one of five national championships that are held throughout the country.

To become a PAVO official:

  • Study the rules, learn the techniques of officiating, and take the practice examination in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Rules book and the PAVO Officials' Guidebook.
  • Consider attending the training camps and clinics administered by PAVO. More information on these programs is available here, or by calling (888) 791-2074.
  • Attend interpretation meetings and officiating training courses that are conducted in your local area.
  • Practice often and in a variety of environments.
  • Contact the chair of a nearby PAVO board to find out when they conduct practical and written examinations.
  • Complete the evaluation process to obtain a PAVO rating, remembering that maintaining high standards for officials is a primary goal for PAVO. For a description of the various PAVO certification levels, click here.

Introduction to Volleyball Officiating

It takes a corps of trained personnel to officiate a volleyball match. Those officials are referred to specifically as:

  • First Referee - The first referee carries out his/her functions standing on a referee's stand located at the opposite end of the net from the score table. The first referee directs the match from the start of the official match protocol until the end of the match. The first referee has authority over all players and officials from his/her arrival at the court until the conclusion of the match.
  • Second Referee - The second referee takes a position on the side of the court opposite and facing the first referee. The second referee is the primary liaison between the referee crew and the coaches, players, scorekeeper, and event management, and provides a valuable perspective because it is impossible for the first referee to get a clear view of all the action on the court.
  • Line Judges - Two line judges are used in most matches. They are positioned at the intersection of an end line and a sideline, one to the first referee's right and one to the second referee's right. The line judges give information to the first referee regarding the location of the ball when it hits the floor, the legality of the path of the ball as it crosses the net, and which team touched the ball last.
  • Scorer and Assistant Scorer - The scorer uses the official scoresheet to record all points earned, substitutions made, and sanctions imposed during a match. The assistant scorer is also known as the libero tracker, and records the exchanges of the libero and other players during the match.

Sometimes the term "officials" is used synonymously with "referee". Used correctly, the term "official" should be used to collectively refer to any of the above officiating corps.

Other Volleyball Organizations

USA Volleyball

USA Volleyball (USAV) is the National Governing Body for the sport (under the United States Olympic Committee) and trains officials for the various levels of competition that it sanctions. The rules established by USA Volleyball are often adapted to meet the needs of organizations that serve specific populations, and this means that those groups also train officials to administer their rules. See Appendix B for a comparison of differences among the three most widely used sets of volleyball rules.

PAVO works closely with USA Volleyball to promote consistency in rule interpretations, officiating techniques, examinations, and uniforms. A joint committee with representatives from both organizations has developed agreements that establish criteria for:

  • Awarding reciprocal referee ratings between PAVO and USAV. Download that agreement here.
  • Nominating candidates for the national rating processes of each organization. Download that agreement here.
  • Wearing appropriate officiating insignia at volleyball matches where women's NCAA volleyball rules are used. Download that agreement here. In USAV, each section of the country is administered by a Regional Volleyball Association (RVA) that sanctions tournaments and league play for women, men, girls, and boys of all ages and skill levels. Each RVA has a contact person who is in charge of developing officials.

To find an RVA in your area, go to USAV's Web site at: http://usavolleyball.org/ 

National Federation of State High School Associations

Almost every high school sport is governed by the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Each state has its own association that governs high school sports. Although NFHS volleyball rules are written at the national level, state associations can and do make their own modifications. In the sport of volleyball, Massachusetts and New York have chosen to use NCAA rules.

Because of the latitude that exists at the state level, development of high school volleyball officials varies from one state to another. Some areas have very definitive requirements while others operate with less structure.

Locate your state's high school association on the NFHS Web site at http://www.nfhs.org


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