How to Become a Certified Pickleball Referee: A Comprehensive Guide


Have you ever dreamed of becoming a Certified Pickleball Referee? Are you passionate about officiating matches and being part of the exciting world of pickleball tournaments? If so, you’re in luck! USA Pickleball offers comprehensive training programs that will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to become a certified referee. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of becoming a Certified Pickleball Referee, from the initial stages as a newcomer to the ultimate achievement of being able to officiate professional events. So, let’s dive in!

Newcomer Stage

As a newcomer to the world of pickleball refereeing, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the intricacies of officiating. Even if you have participated in tournaments as a player, the role of a referee requires a different set of skills and knowledge. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Join USA Pickleball: If you haven’t already, become a member of USA Pickleball. This will give you access to valuable resources and opportunities for training.
  2. Watch the Quick Start Video: USA Pickleball provides a quick start video specifically designed for referees. This video will give you a basic understanding of the rules and expectations of a referee.
  3. Study the Official Rules: Familiarize yourself with the official rules of pickleball. Understanding the rules is crucial for making accurate calls during matches.
  4. Officiating Handbook: Read the officiating handbook provided by USA Pickleball. This handbook will provide you with in-depth information on the role of a referee and the various aspects of officiating.
  5. Take the Players Test: Test your knowledge by taking the Players Test. This test will assess your understanding of the rules and ensure that you are well-prepared for the next steps.
  6. Sign up for a Referee Training Class: Enroll in a referee training class offered by USA Pickleball. These classes are designed to provide hands-on training and practical experience in officiating.
  7. Officiate Non-Sanctioned Tournaments: Once you have completed the referee training class, you may have the opportunity to officiate non-sanctioned tournaments under the guidance of an experienced referee. This will allow you to gain valuable experience and improve your skills.

Level 1 Referee

Congratulations on completing the newcomer stage! Now, it’s time to take your officiating journey to the next level as a Level 1 Referee. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Continual Study: Keep studying the official rules and officiating handbook. It’s important to stay updated with any rule changes or updates.
  2. Officiate Non-Sanctioned Tournaments: Continue officiating matches at non-sanctioned tournaments. This will give you the opportunity to practice your officiating skills and gain more experience.
  3. Referee Test and Line Judge Test: Take the Referee Test and Line Judge Test. These tests will assess your knowledge and understanding of the rules and your ability to make accurate calls.
  4. Assessment by a Certified Referee: Contact a Certified Referee to assess your skills and ensure that you meet the requirements outlined in the Tiered Referee Rating Form (TPP). Their feedback and guidance will be invaluable in your development as a referee.
  5. Officiate Sanctioned Tournaments: Once you have met the requirements and received a positive assessment, you can start officiating non-medal matches at sanctioned tournaments. This is a significant milestone in your journey as a referee.

Level 2 Referee

You’re making great progress! Now, let’s move on to becoming a Level 2 Referee. Here’s what you need to focus on:

  1. Continued Study: In addition to the official rules and officiating handbook, study the Referee Casebook. This resource will provide you with real-life scenarios and guidance on making difficult calls.
  2. Officiate and Train: Keep officiating matches and working with a trainer to improve your skills and confidence. Regular practice and feedback are crucial for your development as a referee.
  3. Assessment by a Certified Referee: Once again, seek assessment from a Certified Referee to ensure that you meet all the requirements for Level 2 outlined in the TPP. Their evaluation will help you identify areas for improvement and further enhance your skills.
  4. Officiate Amateur Medal Matches: Upon meeting the Level 2 requirements and receiving a positive assessment, you will be eligible to officiate amateur medal matches in sanctioned events. This is a significant achievement and demonstrates your progress as a referee.

Certified Referee

Congratulations! You have reached the pinnacle of pickleball refereeing by becoming a Certified Referee. Here’s what it takes to achieve this prestigious title:

  1. Rigorous Training and Testing: The trainingand testing process to become a Certified Referee is rigorous and demanding. You will need to pass the Referee Test and Line Judge Test with a score of 90% or above. This ensures that you have a deep understanding of the rules and can make accurate calls during matches.
  2. Advanced Training: As a Certified Referee, you will undergo advanced training to further enhance your skills and knowledge. This training will cover more complex scenarios and challenges that you may encounter during matches.
  3. Mentorship: You will be assigned a mentor who is an experienced Certified Referee. Your mentor will provide guidance, support, and valuable insights to help you excel in your role as a referee.
  4. Interview Process: As part of the certification process, you will go through an interview to assess your suitability for officiating professional matches. This interview will evaluate your communication skills, decision-making abilities, and overall demeanor as a referee.
  5. On-Court Evaluation: To ensure that you are ready to officiate professional matches, you will undergo an on-court evaluation. This evaluation will assess your performance in real match situations and determine your readiness for the highest level of officiating.
  6. The White Shirt: Upon successfully completing all the requirements and passing the certification process, you will be awarded the coveted white shirt. This shirt signifies that you are a Certified Referee and have the authority to officiate all matches, including professional events.


Becoming a Certified Pickleball Referee is a rewarding and fulfilling journey. It requires dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for the sport. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you can embark on your path to becoming a Certified Referee and contribute to the growth and success of pickleball tournaments. So, lace up your shoes, study the rules, and get ready to make accurate calls on the pickleball court!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a Certified Pickleball Referee?

Becoming a Certified Pickleball Referee offers several benefits, including the opportunity to officiate matches at various tournaments, including professional events. It allows you to contribute to the sport by ensuring fair play and upholding the integrity of the game. Additionally, being a Certified Referee provides personal satisfaction and the chance to be part of the pickleball community.

Q: Do I need prior officiating experience to become a Certified Referee?

No, prior officiating experience is not required. However, having a basic understanding of the game and its rules is beneficial. USA Pickleball provides comprehensive training programs that will equip you with the necessary skills to become a Certified Referee, even if you are a newcomer to the sport.

Q: Can I become a Certified Referee if I am not a member of USA Pickleball?

To become a Certified Referee, you need to be a member of USA Pickleball. Membership provides access to training resources, official rules, and opportunities for practical experience. Joining USA Pickleball is the first step towards becoming a Certified Referee.

Q: Is there a time limit to complete the certification process?

There is no specific time limit to complete the certification process. The journey to becoming a Certified Referee is unique to each individual and depends on factors such as dedication, availability, and progress. It is important to focus on continuous learning and improvement rather than rushing through the process.

Q: Can I officiate matches outside of the United States as a Certified Referee?

Yes, as a Certified Pickleball Referee, you have the opportunity to officiate matches not only in the United States but also internationally. Pickleball is a growing sport globally, and certified referees are in demand to ensure fair play and consistent officiating standards across different countries and tournaments.

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Written by Billy Pickles

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