Volleyball Court - The Referee and Her Posse - What Do They Really Do?


As volleyball players many of us can have a love-hate relationship with the people who referee our games. I know I did. I have stories I can tell about how I use to untie the first referee's shoe laces when I didn't agree with a call they made. Maybe that's why a lot of them wear velcro. Once I took referee certification courses i gained a lot more respect for what referees do and the pressure with which they sometimes have to do their job. Below, I've defined a few of the various referee responsibilities.

First referee - The first referee, the first official or sometimes referred to as the 'up" referee has the primary responsibility of starting the game and the plays, judging each play for any technical fouls, assigning points and sideouts as they occur to each qualifying team and generally making the final decision for any questionable plays.

He or she is called the "up" referee because in official high school, college and international volleyball games the first referee is the one who climbs up and calls the game from an elevated volleyball stand while the second referee is on the opposite side of the net calling the game from the ground. Both use whistles and the first referee usually watches the blockers for net touches, calls double hits, lifts, technical fouls, timeouts and starts each play with a whistle blow to each server.

Second referee - The second referee is an official that is sometimes known as the "down" referee supports the first referee mainly by looking for fouls that occur below or under the net, watches a team's rotational order to make sure players are in the right position, foot faults committed by the server or back row hitter, answers and watches for any scorekeeping issues and also looks to the linesman for judgement calls when needed.

He or she is the "down" referee because they call the game while on their feet, standing exactly across from the first referee who is quite often calling the game from an elevated position on a volleyball stand.

Linesman - Depending on what type of game is being played, there can be four linesmen that stand on all four corners of the court or there are only two. When there are two official linesmen one stands at the corner where the sideline and the service line meet on one volleyball court and the other linesman stands in the same place on the opposing team's court.

In official games, the linesmen will have a flag in their hands, if not then they will make their calls using their arms. Their responsibility is to judge whether a ball has landed inside or outside of the court at the end of the play and to call any touches by the block they may see.

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