Pickleball Referee Advanced Training Sessions (ATS) Guide

Est. Reading: 4 minutes

Just like pickleball players, aspiring referees in the sport should know how to play and understand the rules before becoming one. However, as expected, these sports officials must undergo rigid training created explicitly for them. 

It includes attending advanced training sessions for pickleball referees. If you’re really serious about being a certified pickleball referee, this comprehensive guide is for you. Don’t fret; it’s not as difficult as you think.

Why Should Pickleball Referees Undergo the Advanced Training Session?

First, advanced training sessions (ATS) are a major requirement for aspiring certified pickleball referees. You can only reach this part once you pass the three prerequisites—the Newcomer, Level 1, and Level 2 stages. To learn more about the different levels of pickleball referees, read our Pickleball Referee Guide. On the other hand, continue reading if you are now a Level 2 referee and aiming for certification.

During these advanced training sessions, you will receive personalized training and be able to demonstrate on-court knowledge and skills in a training environment. Therefore, this ATS is a formal training that helps pickleball referees pass the certification. 

But don’t worry; it’s not a pseudo-certification evaluation with its own points, deductions, or objective pass/fail criteria. However, it does not mean that you can take it for granted.

What are Advanced Training Sessions for Pickleball Referees?

According to USA Pickleball, the advanced training sessions for pickleball referees include on-court training and an interview. The training session is conducted in a match where players play pickleball realistically but not really to win.

Instead, it is designed to train the referee to react to various court situations, especially faults. Therefore, on-court training should not be done in live pickleball matches or sanctioned tournaments.

Typically, the referee chooses the players and line judges for the on-court training. However, it would be better if the referee did not know the players well and that they had the same skill level. 

Otherwise, the result would be biased toward the referee. Additionally, the referee should pay for any court rental fees. The referee should discuss the supplies and other expenses with the trainer.

On the other hand, the interview should be conducted by a Certified Referee Coordinator (CRC). Typically, it lasts about an hour and can be done by phone. The purpose is to check if the referee has an in-depth understanding of the pickleball rules. 

These sessions are not prerequisites to each other, so you can choose which one to undertake first. But typically, the on-court training comes first. 

Who Should Conduct the ATS to Pickleball Referees?

The on-court ATS can be conducted by the referee’s mentor or a certified referee trainer. The latter would be a better choice, especially when the mentor thinks the referee is not yet ready for certification.

The mentor or the CRC can conduct the on-court training if no certified referee trainer is available near the trainee’s location. Note, however, that only a CRC is allowed to interview with the referee.

What Happens During the Referee On-Court Training Session?

The certified referee trainer (or the referee’s mentor) is responsible for the referee's entire on-court training. Before the match, they shall explain to all the players that the game should be as realistic as possible. It ensures that the referee will not be overwhelmed once the match starts. 

Below are some of the scenarios that happen during the on-court training:

  • The on-court training match usually has two games, 2 out of 3 to 11 points. 
  • The planned faults and violations must be below ten. Among them are a server foot fault, a non-volley zone foot fault, a breach of the 10-second rule, and a wrong score called.
  • The trainer is the only authorized person to stop the play, especially when the referee under training misses a fault.
  • The trainer can take notes, including the scores. It helps guide the referee when they need clarification about who will serve next.
  • Players should avoid talking to each other, except for the usual communication during regular play.
  • Since unplanned faults and errors may occur, longer rallies are usually preferred.
  • Each game should have at least one time-out so the referee can conduct the time-out procedure.
  • After a long rally, a player should ask the referee about the correct score and server to test whether the referee can follow the players.
  • A player should make an appeal to test the referee’s ability to handle such situations.

Can the Referee Obtain the ATS in a Different Region?

Yes, a referee can obtain the ATS in a different region if the three conditions below are met.

  • The referee should inform the “home” CRC about the plan to get an ATS from another region.
  • The referee should arrange everything since it would be unreasonable for the referee’s mentor to do this. It includes looking for another region and finding an alternative certified referee trainer.
  • The chosen certified referee trainer should agree. But again, only the “home” CRC can interview with the referee.

How Does the Trainer Decide Whether the Referee Passes the ATS?

As mentioned earlier, the trainer does not use specific points as criteria for the referee's meeting during on-court training. This decision is subjective and always case-to-case. The key here is to know the referee's weaknesses and improve them. 

As we all know, even certified referees could make mistakes during a live tournament. Hence, the trainer only decides the result based on his observation.

What Happens if the Referee Fails the ATS?

If a referee fails the on-court training, a second attempt may be allowed, depending on the result of the first try. If the referee fails again, a third attempt may be considered but should be approved first by the respective Section Leader of Officiating (SLO). 

If the referee fails the interview, they will be instructed to study the pickleball rules further. Depending on the result of the first interview, a second interview will be scheduled.

Final Thoughts

No documents have been released regarding the passing rate of pickleball referee trainees. But because the sport continues to become popular in the US and worldwide, there’s always a space for new referees. 

So far, the best tips for passing referee training are dedication and a willingness to learn more. You should invest time in playing pickleball and mastering the rules. But most importantly, you should enjoy the game. 

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