There are many individual techniques and tricks to help one officiate volleyball.Here is what several seasoned (read: old) officials (especially Corny Galdones, who was the primary contributor) have learned through the years of plying the trade.





       Update your assignor and association secretary whenever your mailing address, phone numbers or email addresses.Returned letters and busted email addresses hinder communication.


       Turn in your closed date sheet early and keep it up to date.


        If you have to turn a match back, let the assignor know ASAP.Itís a lot easier to find a replacement two weeks before the match than two days before a match.


       Buy a good city map.If you work winter ball, buy a good state map.If youíve never been to a site, obtain good directions.Check the CVVOA website ( or call the school.Donít rely on your GPS alone.


       If youíve never been to the school before, allow an extra 15 minutes travel time just in case you get lost.


       Traffic is a fact of life.Plan and allocate time in anticipation for traffic delays.Thereís no excuse for being late for a match because of traffic.





       Maintain a log or spreadsheet of the matches youíve worked, the type of match (2/3, 3/5, V, JV, etc.), your partner, and whether you drove, your partner drove, or both (if the match is outside the Richmond/Petersburg metro ara).Note whether youíve been paid for the assignment.Track income (at least amount and date paid) and expenses by tax category for each match assignment or officiating activity.Keeping your records current saves a lot of scrambling at tax time.


       Keep a folder of officiating receipts and supporting documents for each tax year.When in doubt, save it.


       Carry a manual or automated daily planner with the pertinent info (date, time, location, partner, up/down) of all your assignments.


       Confirm each assignment with your partner at least 48 hours prior to the match.Thereís nothing like showing up for a match and no one else is there, or youíre at the site, the teams are warming up but your partner is a no-show.


       Carry a list of phone numbers for your fellow officials and your assignor in your gym bag, just in case.


       If you plan to travel to the match with your partner, make a fall back plan if one of you is late at the rendezvous point Ė cell phones, leave message at home; wait fifteen minutes then leave, etc.






       Appearances matter.A clean, crisp, immaculate uniform creates a good first and lasting impression.A threadbare or discolored uniform shirt wonít pass muster.


       Transport your officialís shoes and clothing in protective bags to your match site to keep them fresh.You can purchase small shoe-sized bags from outfitter stores.


       Dress at the site.White shirts have a magnetic attraction for brown liquids, ketchup and mustard.


       Change after the match into your civilian clothes.And never, ever, drink alcohol in uniform.In fact, never enter a restaurant where alcohol is served while in uniform.


       Use a retractable point pen or pencil to keep track of subs/TOís on your card.


       Use a film canister as a convenient container for the net measuring chain.Winding the chain for storage is a good way to get it tangled.A better way is to let it drop in bead by bead.


       Before the season, wash your whistles with warm water and baking soda and launder your white whistle lanyard with bleach.Dry it right away so its metal parts wonít rust.


       During the match, carry a spare whistle in your pocket in case you chomp on yours or you need a whistle distinctive from the ones the officials are using on an adjacent court.


       Whistles can damage your hearing.We strongly recommend wearing earplugs or noise reducers.Stay low profile in color, shape.A good time to put them on is when the teams huddle at the end of warm-ups and before you walk to your post.Do not wear them if you cannot hear normal conversation with them on, especially as an R2 where you have to interact with the coaches and scorekeeper.


       Use a pea-less whistle.You get more volume per amount of energy invested and the pea wonít stick if your whistle doesnít have one.


       Immediately after the coin toss, the R2 informs the scorekeepers of which team is serving from which side.Right after the coin toss in the captainsí meeting, put the tossing coin in a pocket on the side of the serving team.


       Keep red and yellow cards hidden and separate for easy retrieval.R in R is easy to remember, i.e., red in pants right pocket, yellow in pants left pocket.Another method is red card over the heart, yellow card over the butt.





       Toss a ball into the middle and bottom of the net along its entire court width to check if the net has the right amount of play.The net should be tight enough for the ball to bounce out of the net, but not be as tight as a trampoline.


       Place the antennas on the side of the net away from the strong side hitter.Secure them more by weaving through the net, if possible


       Use your net measuring chain as a plumb-bob to make sure the antennas are vertical.


       Put a distinct mark, e.g., your initials, near the needle hole of a game ball after checking its pressure.It will be easier to find if it gets mixed with other balls.


       Before the teams warm-up, get up on the referee stand to be sure itís a comfortable height for you.Correct the height before the teams start to hit.


       Even if youíre using the scoreboard clock to time warm-ups, time-outs, etc., keep the time on your own watch, too.If someone kicks the power cord, the R2 will still know how much time remains.





       In your pre-game, discuss calling lines without line judges.An R2 should watch the sideline for the service, then concentrate on the net.When the ball hits the floor, the R2 should usually be signaling only touch or give a head shake for no touch.If, however the R2 has an opinion about a line call (Ďcause they were looking in the wrong place) give the in/out immediately.


       Work together with your partner during pre-match activities.Take half the court and check for safety issues, the teams for jewelry, etc.When checking the rosters, have one official call out the numbers, and the other checking off players on the roster.Do not do your partnerís job.Instead give a gentle reminder if the job is not getting done.


       Make a nature call before the match, even if you feel you donít need one.If itís during pre-match proceedings, take turns with your partner so that at least one of you is monitoring the court at all times.








       Watch the players during warm-ups.Identify the outside hitters, middle hitters, opposite hitters and their hitting tendencies.See if there are any peculiar techniques by the setters.


       Study each teamís submitted lineup before the match to identify at least the setterís position and the player opposite the setter.Note who the captains are and the positions of the opposing teamsí setters relative to each other.


       As an R2, holding onto the ball during the lineup check of players on the court makes it clumsy to signal the captainís number to the R1.Either give the ball to the server right away or retrieve it from the scorekeeper table after checking the lineups.


       As an R1, check the line-up sheets during warm-ups to determine who the front row players will be.


       While the R2 is checking the lineups before the start of each game, the R1 studies each teamís rotation, especially the setter and the player opposite the setter.


       When a team requests a line-up check that requires more than confirming their next server, always use the scorebook; it will have more complete information than your lineup card.


       Before the serve, after checking the receiving team for possible overlaps as an R2, note the serving teamís front row players in service order.After a side out, the passing formation of that team will be less confusing when looking for overlaps.


       If you miss calling an overlap at time of serve, make a mental note of the situation and catch it on the next go-around.If an overlap is called at the end of a play, there will denials and arguments because the supporting evidence is gone.





       Take action to prevent a team from being sanctioned or penalized.For example, check for jewelry during warm-ups.


       Establish a working rapport with the coaches as an R2.Let them coach so long theyíre not disruptive.Make sure the coaches submit their lineups to you and not the scorekeeper.Check the lineup for multiple player numbers Ė this can be corrected without penalty if the lineup has not been placed on the scoretable.Fetch the lineups instead of making the coach walk.If applicable, inform coaches when there is a minute left for serving in their warm-up period.Anticipate a time out request and look for a coachís subtle signal requesting one.Know each teamís substitution pattern so you can anticipate a request is coming up.Warn the coach of a possible overlap if it is minor.Be approachable for questioning.Explain all questioned calls.


       Control the teamsí behavior and be alert for trash talk through.Address each act of misconduct, no matter how slight, otherwise things can get out of hand real fast.Give a whistle warning toot and cautionary hand motion to a harmless, venting of frustration by a player.


       Be approachable as a referee but only talk to the playing captains.Remind the captain of this when a teammate discusses a call with you.


       Clear all players away from the stand when talking to the R2 or line judges on a controversial call.Letting your conversation be overheard adds fuel to the fire when your final decision is made.


       As the R2 step away from the pole when signaling violations during play.This action will subtlely draw the R1ís attention to you


       Check that the scoreboard is correct after every play.Even though the scoresheet is official, everyone in the gym can see (and complain about) an incorrect scoreboard.


       Smile.The players react more favorably to a smile.





       Once youíve determined that the ball will not hit the ceiling, look ahead to where the ball is headed.Identify who will handle the ball and watch the hitters approach.You will get more reaction time to judge ball handling and a better picture of the overall action.


       ďUglyĒ is not a ball handling violation.Donít judge on looks or body positions.Donít make a call just because a player or the ball did not do what you expected.


       Focus in on the playerís body parts contacting the ball for whether the ball came to a stop, was held, or double contacted.Nothing else.


       Use rapid eye movements as an R1 during a spike:hitter, net, digger.Watch the hitter making ball contact.As soon as the hit is completed, focus on the net for possible touches of the ball by the blockers and net violations.Skipping this step reduces input for making a call.Pick up the ball again after it passes the blockersí hands and heads toward the diggers.


       When a spike hits the top of the net and rebounds back, quickly look to your R2 for input on whether the blockers contacted the ball as play continues.


       As the R2, be ready to give the four hits information signal.Remember, the obvious missed fours are the embarrassing ones; donít guess whether your partner needs help counting; assume they do.


       As an R2, move to get in a better position to see whether the ball passes inside the antenna or not.This includes the antenna on the R1ís side of the court.


       On a tip, the spikerís hand should already be moving forward before contacting the ball.If not, the ball was caught before the forward motion.Be alert for the ball changing direction during contact.


       On a spike close to you as a R1, the ball could ricochet off the blockers toward you.†† Ducking doesnít always work.Use the antenna as a shield.†† Protect your face with a hand so the ball wonít six-pack you (ow!) or bash the whistle into your mouth (OUCH!!).





       As the R2, your first act after the match is to fetch the game ball.


       After a hotly contested match, the R1 stays on the stand to guard against any shenanigans while the players and coaches shake hands.


       Quickly perform your administrative duties and hightail out of the area.(Toot and scoot) The people more likely to talk to you will be the unhappy ones.



These officiating suggestions have been gleaned from years of experience and are still functional for todayís game.Several are personal practices and not standard procedure.It wonít hurt to consider them all.You might find some of these trade tricks are worth adopting for your own use.