How To Referee Volleyball

By: Jimmy Cox

In every sport the officials are an important part of the game. Upon their judgment, many times, rests the outcome of the game or match. Volleyball is no exception to this rule. Having alert, decisive, and discerning officials can make the difference between a good or poor tournament.

Since "power" volleyball in this country is a relatively new game, there is a good bit of educating to be done with the general public and with many players relative to what constitutes good officiating.

During the past few years volleyball has been going through "growing pains" in moving from what used to be known as an "old man's," or purely recreational, sport to a game that is destined to become one of the great participant and spectator sports. Today in Europe and in the Orient it is not unusual for crowds of fifteen to twenty-five thousand to gather for championship matches.

Being a volleyball official is difficult, but, as in every other sport, the official is an important part of the game. If the game of volleyball is to continue to grow and develop, there must be those who are willing and competent to officiate and guide it in its growth.

Some might ask why volleyball is so difficult to officiate. When one considers that a spiked ball travels up to 110.5 miles per hour and the official must determine how the ball is played by the defensive team, it is easy to see the importance of having competent officials.

It has been said many times that Bob Feller's speed ball traveled 98.6 miles per hour and Jack Kramer's serve 104 miles per hour. Therefore, an official must be "on his toes" at all times to render the best decisions possible, not only on spiked balls but for all kinds of court play.

Not only must the official be an individual who can make instantaneous decisions, but he must be a student of the rules. It is quite possible for an official to make a mistake in judgment, but he should never make a mistake in rules interpretation. It is highly recommended that an official study the rules carefully before each tournament unless he officiates very regularly. This gives him an opportunity to "sharpen up" before the match.

There are five officials in volleyball who must be considered as most important to the success of a game - the referee, the umpire, the scorer, the timekeeper, and the linesman. Each of these officials has a number of very important duties to perform if the outcome of the game is to be satisfactorily achieved. Although all of the above-mentioned officials are important, "the referee shall be the superior official of the game and shall have the power to overrule decisions of other officials when, in his opinion, they have made errors."

Probably the greatest problem confronting the referee is the consistency with which he calls errors. Volleyball is probably the most difficult game to referee, since the ball may not come to rest for a period of time. It may not be held, carried, or thrown, as in most other sports. It must be "clearly hit." This means there cannot be any follow-through to speak of, or the ball is carried, lifted, or thrown. Therefore, one referee may see a play slightly different from another referee.

The particular angle at which a referee sees the play can also make a difference. As for the spectators who may or may not know the rules, they may cause the unseasoned referee concern when they vent their enthusiasm over a called or uncalled play.

Refereeing at a game of volleyball can be very satisfying, and well worth the time and trouble it takes to become proficient in this sport.

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