How do I become a referee?
This is a question we get on a regular basis. The information below should help anyone wanting to get started.

Which Grade? (and why does it matter?)
Generally speaking, most soccer refs in Tennessee start at one of two grade levels - Grade 9 or Grade 8. Currently there are about three grade 8 referees for every grade 9 in Tennessee.

Grade 9 (blue patch) -This is the "recreational" grade. It is primarily designed for those wanting to referee younger children's matches. The pros to the grade 9 level is a shorter course so it is a quicker path to becoming a referee. The cons are you are limited to the age level you can officiate (under 14 typically) and if you decide to upgrade in the future to grade 8 or higher, theoriginal grade 9 class and thebridge class together is a longer class time than starting with a grade 8.

Grade 8 (black patch) -The grade 8 level is the starting point for many refs in Tennessee. The design of the grade 8 means you will see this level of referee across the state in different levels of competition. The pros of the grade 8 is a broader range of opportunity for officiating. With a grade 8 badge, you can ref up into amateur games (above U19). The cons are a longer course, typically spread over three days.

Other grades -These two grades are general starting points, there are several grades above 8 in the USSF system. Many of these require more stringent physical requirements and may require commitments to be available for high level matches.

I have my grade picked. Now what?
Great! Now that you have decided on the grade, what is the next step? Get signed up for a course. Once you have completed the coursework and have scored a passing score on the test, you are ready to start blowing the whistle and showing cards!

To sign up for a course -
  • Start with theSoccerOfficialsof Tennesseewebsite and click "Approved Courses" at the top of the page. This will load the current course offerings.
  • You will be looking for "Entry Level" courses for the grade you have selected (for example "Entry Level (Grade 8, 3-day)" for a grade 8 course held over a 3 day period).
  • Click the link of the course type you are interested in taking.
This will take you to a listing for the courses offered across the state for the type you have selected.
  • To choose a course, click the date on the line you are interested in.
  • This will bring up the description of the course. You will see date, location, time, and availability information along with the instructors contact info. There may also be special driving instructions or other helpful information listed. If this is the course for which you want to register, click the "To register for this class, please Login Here" link at the bottom of the page.
  • You will now be taken to the website. This is the registration system for the Tennessee area.
  • Assuming you are wanting to become a referee, you probably don't have a login yet. Click the "Create an account" button and step through the menus to set up your account. If you already have an account you can just login with your username and password.
  • Once logged in, click the "Register for this course" button. You will be stepped through the menus of entering your information and payment method. You will also be required to mark if you have been convicted of a felony and if over 18, give permission for a background check. You can pay online for the course using their secure system or some courses offer a "Pay at the door" option.
  • You should get an e-mail once complete.
The only thing left is to attend your course and enjoy your new career as a referee. Good Luck!

What to expect at the course
Although it may seem daunting for a lot of us to go back into a classroom setting, it's really not that bad. The courses vary to some degree as the instructors are all individuals, but the basic layout is the same. As a group you will cover each of the rules in the Laws of the Game. There will be questions based on the information you have covered and the instructors are usually happy to step though the answers so you understand. You will also cover things like game mechanics, procedures, signals, andresponsibilities. At the end of the coursework, there is a test (usually written, but with advances in technology, online is becoming an option). If you understand the Laws of the Game, you shouldn't have a problem.