Officials & Their Duties in Volleyball
On the sidelines, at the back corners and at the net, someone always has an eye on the volleyball court during a game. Although their duties vary, volleyball officials ensure that the game is played fairly, cleanly and that points are given when they are deserved. Those officials are the referees, the scorekeeper, assistant scorekeeper or libero tracker, and the line judges.
The referee is the individual at the center of the court, dressed in black and white stripes. A referee’s duties include signaling when a rally begins and ends. The referee is responsible for officially recognizing team requests, substitutions, time-outs and communicating with the coaches at the appropriate times. There are often multiple referees in a match, according to the Strength and Power for Volleyball website.
The scorekeeper creates official records of volleyball games. Before play begins, the scorekeeper records team and player information. Once the game begins, scorekeepers not only track points, but also player substitutions, sanctions and time-outs. The scorekeeper keeps an eye on the individual serving the ball to track the rotation and notify referees of potential lapses. At the close of the game, the scorekeeper records the final score of the game.
The assistant scorekeeper or libero tracker is responsible for updating the scoreboard and keeping an eye on the libero. The libero tracking duty was added in 1999. This individual records changes in the libero rotation, notifying referees when problems occur in the rotation.
There are usually two line judges, one at either end of the court, usually in opposite corners. Line judges work with the referees, signaling to assist in making judgment calls. These officials often use flags to signal when a ball is in or out, hits the antennae of the net, or when the server commits a foot fault, or steps outside the line as they serve.
Certification for Volleyball Officials
Two organizations provide certification for volleyball officials at the collegiate and professional levels, USA Volleyball and the Professional Association of Volleyball Officials. Each organization offers certification, but PAVO is generally responsible for certification of officials in women’s collegiate volleyball. PAVO offers national scorekeeper, line judge and referee certifications. USA Volleyball offers training for referees at the professional level. The organization also appoints scorekeepers at the national level.
April Bamburg is a freelance writer with experience at a twice-weekly newspaper in Northwest Oregon. Since 2005, she's written for a variety of outlets including the Mills College Alumnae magazine, "The Chronicle" in St. Helens, "Vernonia's Voice" in Vernonia, and Examiner.com. Bamburg received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism (with emphasis in communication studies) from the University of Oregon.