How Officials See The Game

Appearance and Teamwork

Officials must work together for a quality game. Good communication, both verbal and nonverbal is essential from the youngest age levels all the way up to the Division 1 Championship game. The best officials show their professionalism with a clean appearance and maintain a fit physique.

Advantage Signal

When a player is fouled we have the option of holding the whistle to allow the player to continue to play on, or hold for advantage.

Holding for advantage can make a game flow nicely and decrease the number of whistles blown in a game.

Dead Ball Officiating

When the ball is dead the officials become alive. No one else is paying much attention to the players during dead balls, but that is when bad things can happen. Then everyone sees something bad happen, but because the officials kept their eyes on the players the good crew can take care of any issues that come up.

Professional Appearance

Always match your partner and make sure your uniform is in good condition.

Your flags should be easily accesible when you need them, but try not to have them be obvious from a distance. Great officials are fit officials that stand proudly and walk confidently.

Officiating in Transition

When the defensive team gains possession in their defensive half of the field the officials give a "reset" signal by twirling a finger in the air.

You should stay on the balls of your feet in order to quickly change directions in case of a turnover.

Check Nets Pre-Game

Always, always, always, checks the goals and nets before the game.
If a hole is created during a game and a shot goes through the hole, then sell the call by running in and putting your hand through the hole to sell the call. Then get the hole fixed.

Check Where the Wings Are

No one likes to get run over. Make yourself safer by being vigilant.
Double-check where the wing players are before the faceoff. Determine where you want to back out to based on how the wing players are set up.
Remember, back out and then get stationary. It is easier for a player to run around you when you aren't moving.


Learning to anticipate play improves your skills as an official. With the players and the ball in constant motion, you need to be ready to make quick adjustments to be in the best position to see between players.

Practice short, quick footwork. Having the ability to look at one area of play, while seeing another allows you to anticipate what may happen next.

Making quick adjustments with your movement and your vision can help improve your game.

Coach Chat

Keep your eyes on the field if you must have a short conversation with a coach. Never turn your back to the play. If you do, you can't watch for safety calls and you cannot tell if the play is coming at you.
Put a smile on your face. Show the coach and the team that you are excited to work the game and that you care.

Develop Allies

Every time you have a positive interaction with a player you help your crew for the remainder of that game AND the crews for future games.
If a player asks a question respectfully, then answer it in the same manner it was asked. If a player eases up and doesn't destroy the shooter after a shot. Go up and thank the player for being smart. If the goalkeeper gets the ball for you out of the back of the goal, thank him for that courteous gesture.
If you take the time to just be nice with a player it have can a great ripple effect for the rest of that player's career.

Clear Positioning

When a change of possession occurs and the goalkeeper is looking to clear up field, do not be too quick to head up field.

As you transition from Lead to Trail, staying level with the goalkeeper until she clears the ball offers you the ability to watch the cutters and be in position if a quick turnover occurs and the ball is coming back to your critical scoring area.

Flag Down!

When you judge a technical foul or a personal foul and you need to throw your flag, first yell "Flag Down!"
That alerts everyone that there is a flag down for an offense, and then you can finish by throwing your flag high into the air.

Focus on the Bodies

You always need to know where the ball is, but you do not need to look directly at the ball. Keep it in your peripheral vision and keep the bodies of the players in your line of sight.
This is critical during loose-ball play. If you focus on the ball you cannot see if the body and stick checking is legal or illegal.
Everyone else at the game watches the ball. Don't be everyone else. Be the official.

Long Distance Signaling

When you are far away from your partners or the table, take longer to show your signals. Hold them for a little longer than you would normally to allow everyone to understand what the call is.

Loose-Ball Officiating

The ball has never committed a foul!
It is vitally important that you pay attention to the players when the ball is loose. Work to keep your eyes on the center mass of the players' bodies and use your peripheral vision to be aware of the ball.

Coach Communication

Communication with coaches is a challenging aspect of officiating.

When doing so remaining calm, using the language of the rules and listening to their concerns can make this a better experience for everyone.

On Every Shot


On Official

You are responsible for the immediate action around the ball when the ball is in your primary coverage area.

Reporting Penalties

C-NOTE stands for Color, Number, Offense, Time, Explanation
Color: Blue
Number: 27
Offense: Slashing
Time: 1-, 2-, or 3-minutes
Explanation: if needed

Coach Communication

Communication with coaches is a challenging aspect of officiating.

When doing so remaining calm, using the language of the rules and listening to their concerns can make this a better experience for everyone.

Single Side Official

If you imagine yourself as the "second lead official" instead of just the "single side" you will put yourself in a better position to help the crew on tight crease plays and contested end line calls.
Get comfortable being at the top of the crease or just above it.
When the Lead drops to the end line you drop to Goal Line Extended (GLE). You're there to be a second set of eyes on the goal when the Lead has play below the goal to worry about.

Stall Warnings

NFHS - Get It In/Keep It In
NCAA - Shot Clock
To put a stall on you make an "L" with your arms.
One fist goes skyward, and the other toward the end line behind the goal the offensive team is attacking.
Pro Tip - keep your arms like this for a few seconds. Let everyone get the message that the stall is now on as you verbalize the warning according to the rules you're officiating with.

Trail Official - Slow Transition

There is no rush to get up the field as the Trail official during slow clears. Stay slighlty behind the ball-carrier so you are always in a good position to run back to the goal you are responsible for in the event of a turnover.


You cannot officiate with your head down at the ground, or with your back to the play.
Be attentive to how you move your body just before transition. Are you opening your hips to the play and running with your head up? Does your head dip down momentarily? Do you turn your back to the play?
These actions take a split second, but in that second you are not watching the players.
Make it a habit to keep your eyes on the players.