FAQ: Getting Started as a New Official in the Ohio Valley Region

This document is intended to answer basic questions for new OVR officials.

What is USA Volleyball?

USA Volleyball ( is the national governing body for the sport of volleyball in the United State. USAV is responsible for the men's and women's national teams, which compete in such events as the Olympics. USAV is divided into 40 regions, including the Ohio Valley, which sanction and govern the sport based upon USAV guidelines.

Competition occurs at all age levels. Adults compete in age divisions (30s, 35s, 40s, ... 70s), and in club divisions (B, BB, A, AA, Open and co-ed). Youth (18 and under) participate based upon their age (18s, 17s, 16s, ... 10s). Within each division of youth competition, there are two categories: Open and Club (in the Ohio Valley Region, there are three: called National, American, and Regional). In both adults and youth, the Open divisions are the top level of play.

USAV rules are based upon FIVB (International) rules with modifications as warranted by situations unique to US competitions. The NCAA (men's and women's collegiate), as well as the National Federation (high school), are members of USAV, and generally base their rules (with modifications) upon the USAV rule set.

How do I become a certified official?

In a nutshell, pre-register online for a New Official's Clinic held at one of the various sites in the region; attend the clinic ($35 fee) and sign up for an on-court training/evaluation tournament ($115 fee); take the USAV Form C rules exam online; successfully complete the on-court training and evaluations; register ($67) with the OVR and complete the required USAV background screen ($14). Specific details for each of these steps can be found in the "Becoming A Certified USAV Official" document on the OVR website.

Is there a minimum age requirement to become a certified USAV Official?

Prospective referees must be at least 17 years old as of January 1 of the season in which they become certified. Please contact OVR New Official Development Coordinator, Josh Hall (, with any questions.

What are the officiating certification levels in USA Volleyball?

There are six levels of certification for referees in USA Volleyball. They are: Junior Regional, Provisional, Regional, Junior National, National, and International. New officials will earn either a Junior Regional or a Provisional rating at their evaluation tournament. There are corresponding certification levels for scorers in USAV.

The Junior Regional, Provisional and Regional officials are the largest population of officials, and they are mostly local, grassroots folks! Junior National and National officials generally travel regionally or throughout the country to work at significant USAV National events. International officials travel around the world to work International volleyball events, such as the Pan American Games, Goodwill Games, the World Cup, World League, World Championships and the Olympic Games.

What should I expect at my training/evaluation tournament for my initial certification?

Although the evaluations are pass/fail, the process is also a hands-on learning experience. The OVR Training/Rating Team will work closely with you to help you pass the rating process. Incidentally, the OVR Rating Team is comprised of Junior National, National and International referees and scorers. This is a group of highly experienced officials, and they will help you start off your USAV officiating career on the right foot.

You will arrive at the training/evaluation tournament at least 45 minutes prior to the start of the first match. (For regular season tournaments, referees must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start of play.) Plan on being there a better part of the day. Most candidates will be finished with the process by 4PM.

You will receive training and evaluation as first referee, second referee and scorer. If you have difficulty with any of the three evaluations, time permitting, you will be evaluated a second time. This is not guaranteed, however, as the number of candidates at each site will determine whether extra matches will be available. You will also work at least one set as a line judge and one set as a Libero tracker.

Upon successful completion of the rating process, you will be given a USA Junior Regional pin or a Provisional USA Volleyball Referee patch, which must be worn on your shirt when you officiate USAV events. You will also have a Provisional USA Volleyball Scorer rating; however, patches are not distributed for this rating.

What should I take to my practical evaluation tournament?

At minimum, bring a whistle, red/yellow cards and a coin. (Red/Yellow cards can be made from laminated construction paper, inexpensive vinyl folders, etc.) Remember, in USAV the second referee does NOT use a lineup card!

Since the candidates' evaluation schedule is fairly tight, it is a VERY good idea to bring snacks or a sack lunch and drinks. Some tournaments have concession stands, and some do not. Although restaurants may be nearby, there is usually little time to leave the tournament.

You will have already paid for the clinic ($35) and the training/evaluation process ($115) during those portions of the New Referee's Program. Upon successfully attaining a USAV referee certification, you will need to pay the $67 USAV-OVR registration fee and the $14 USAV background screening fee at the conclusion of the evaluation process. A credit/debit card is the best method of payment. Checks are payable to: Ohio Valley Region. Likewise, you may want to bring extra cash (or a check) to purchase any officiating equipment or uniform shirts that you will need for the season. A separate check/cash should be used for equipment purchases.

You may want to bring a small notebook to take notes during your debriefing sessions, which will come in handy to help you remember key points from your raters.

What uniform do I wear when I am being evaluated?

Since you are not yet a certified USAV referee, you probably won't have the "referee" uniform. Consequently, we request that all new referee candidates should wear clothing similar to that of our professional referees. This includes navy pants, slacks or running pants (no jeans), a white polo shirt (colored sleeve/collar trim and logos are permitted only during the training tournament), and solid white shoes (colored logos or small designs are acceptable) and socks. Since the final evaluations are pass/fail, we don't expect anyone to purchase new uniform clothing until they have successfully completed the process.

What should I wear when I officiate as a professional official?

Certified professional referees must wear the white, gray or light blue "Certified Volleyball Referee" polo shirt (short- or long-sleeved), dark navy blue slacks, black or blue belt, and solid white socks and tennis shoes.

Where can I buy this uniform?

The "Certified Volleyball Official" polo shirts are available at OVR Officiating clinics and rating sites, or you may contact Josh Hall ( to make arrangements to get one. The cost is $30-$40, depending on the size and apparel style.

You must purchase your own dark navy blue slacks. They should be polyester or a polyester-cotton blend. Avoid slacks that are 100% cotton, as they fade quickly, and consequently, they do not look professional.

The shoes must be solid white (no colored logos), as well as the socks. It is best to purchase a pair that you will use exclusively for officiating.

What other equipment do I need?

You will need a whistle and lanyard, a set of yellow and red cards, and a flipping coin. These items are generally available for sale at the clinics, but can also be purchased at most sporting goods stores. Fox 40, Fox Mini, Fox Pearl are the most popular whistles. Metal "pea" whistles are not appropriate.

Additional equipment includes a ball pressure gauge, ball pump, line judge flags and a net measuring chain. These items are also for sale at clinics, or they can be purchased from various online volleyball stores.

When are tournaments held in the OVR?

Junior tournaments (boys and girls, 18 years and younger) are played on weekends from late January until May. There are restrictions on the levels of play that Junior and Provisional referees can work at the juniors' competition level. (See the OVR Officials' Handbook for details.)

The junior season culminate with the Ohio Valley Junior Championship tournaments. These significant events are held on 60 courts at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

How do I get hired to work these tournaments?

All junior tournaments are listed on the OVR website. For each tournament, an "Officials' Assignor" is listed. In the absence of an assignor, the tournament director is responsible for hiring referees. You should contact this person via email to find out if they are in need of officials. You pick and choose your own schedule. You can work every weekend of the season, or only a few days/weekends of your choice. Feel free to travel within the region; however, travel expenses are your responsibility. Junior regionals may not work outside the OVR, and Provisional referees must contact the OVR Referee Chair prior to doing so.

There is also an OVR Officials' mailing list in which tournament directors send out requests for officials. It is up to each official to respond to them if interested in working that event.

Written contracts are used in the OVR when referees accept assignments. Your professionalism is at stake if you break your commitments! For example, double-booking, dropping a tournament to accept a tournament closer to home, or accepting a more "prestigious" tournament is not professional behavior. There will always be plenty of opportunities in the OVR, so accept assignments graciously, and fulfill them to the best of your ability.

How much do officials get paid in the OVR?

For regular, sanctioned junior tournaments, referees typically work six matches per day. Pay is based on your certification level. Junior Regionals receive $30.00 per match or $180 per day (whichever is greater).. Provisional and Regional referees receive $32.50 per match or $195 per day (whichever is greater). Junior National and National referees receive $35 per match or $210 per day (whichever is greater). When referees work more than six matches in a day, they are compensated at their respective certification rate for each additional match.

Do I work all matches consecutively at OVR tournaments?

Not usually! Based upon the formula outlined in OVR tournament guidelines, there should be 1.5 officials per court, rounding up to the next whole number. (Note: For three-court tournaments, four referees are usually hired.) Using this format, officials will work no more than two or three matches in a row, followed by a one-match break, and then the pattern repeats itself.

Enjoy your USA Volleyball officiating experience in the Ohio Valley Region!


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