Referee Information

Adult League Referee base pay is $15 per game

Adult game referees are required to have many of the same prerequisites as Youth game referees, such as an affiliation with an accredited basketball association. In addition to this adult game referees are required to be more verbally proactive and maintain strict court discipline. A much firmer hand is needed in adult games, as such the ability to keep a game under control and defuse tense situations before they occur is highly valued in our adult game referees.

Adult game pay starts at $15 per game. Below are the different ways we ask our referees to improve their game in order to increase their pay rate. Each skill described below, once attained will result in an additional $1 in pay per game. If a ref masters all of the skills below they can expect to make $20 per game.

Base pay is $15

Being Verbally Proactive

Below is the 1st of 5 skill sets-that once attained- can increase your pay by basically a ‘buck per skill attained’ (for adult basketball; this entire section is related to adult basketball- not youth basketball).

Verbally skilled refs make games safer. This verbally skilled referee uses a firm but calm/respectful voice in illustrating- ‘rules based answers’ to player complaints or questions (creating a trust between the player; keep in mind- ‘trust’ becomes ‘game control’- something values).Verbally skilled referees know all definitions (when asked in a game or a review- you can state the 3 things that constitute a foul, you can define the timing of position, you know the parameters and timing around the rule of verticality) and you in fact- you use those verbal definitions throughout the game to keep the game safe. Your verbal skills keep games safe.

When you have a no call (but there was a lot of contact and the offensive player might look at you – or say something) – you might say- ‘Defense is there’- firmly- loudly- to the gym.

When you have a foul call (and you feel like the defender is going to disagree) – you should say- ‘you got there late’ or something to that effect (saying ‘you got him/her’ is describing contact and that is not advised b/c fouls are 90% defined by position, not contact so its better to define foul based on the player getting there ‘on time’ or not getting there on time ‘got there late’).

Games refereed without verbal skill can lose control: without a verbally skilled referee- a knucklehead player (a player who is just ‘off’ that night) get mad and more mad throughout the game (as they do not sense there is a rationale behind your calls) and eventually these knuckleheads become MORE enraged… and yes- they can become dangerous BUT a verbally skilled referee does not have that happening in his/her games because — the referee describes why he/she has a no-call or foul call- and in doing so- this referee is establishing trust between the players and the referee (and trust- becomes control- becomes a safer game, thus the increase in pay; youth basketball is about showing up and doing a great job where adult basketball refereeing is similar but more about safety for that game but safety for future games as well and we find that verbally proactive referees make games/the league safer).

Being verbally skilled- allows you (the referee) to be seen as ‘making judgments based on rules’ versus being seen as not paying attention or missing the call or guessing (restated: your verbal explanation allows players to hear/see what the referee is seeing); being verbal helps the referee get through games easily (players trust you are making calls based on real rules not just ‘winging it’); being verbal makes the game better for players as there is less arguing, less anger buildup, etc.

Being verbally skilled at the level we would like is not required but if you are ‘that person’ and want the $1 bonus- ask for a review (same concept applies to the other skills & corresponding bonuses – discussed below).

Being Strict

Being strict: being strict in regards to unsafe plays and sportsmanship violations. This protects your games, but just as importantly you are not ‘passing’ on bad players who carry those traits to the next game. Handling the problem right when it comes up makes that player safer for upcoming games, as well. A strict referee does not pass on conflict and let the game just go on. A strict referee deals with conflict in the game with warnings, technical fouls and flagrant foul calls.

You are willing to call Flagrant 1 fouls: A strict referee calls flagrant fouls (at a clip of about 2 per night – especially when refereeing in the lower levels). This referee makes the adult league safe by changing players attitude about what they can and cannot do on the court. This referee calls this type of foul even if the foul is accidental and/or even if the foul is committed by a good-person that meant no harm. New policy (adult league) we now call intentional fouls “intentional fouls”, we now call excessive fouls as “excessive fouls” and we now call dangerous fouls as “dangerous fouls” all with the same penalty as the flagrant1 (2 shots and the ball). Or you can call any of these things a Flagrant 1. Customer service is nice but when a player does something unsafe, the referee’s entire purpose at that moment is to penalize that play.

You are willing to call Flagrant 2 fouls: if a foul is dangerous/excessive COMBINED WITH intentional, that is a flagrant 2 because the play has 2 bad elements. A flagrant 2 foul is an ejection. Not every referee will call this call when it comes up, many referees ‘pass’ and go with the Flagrant1 or they call a regular foul with a warning but a ‘strict’ referee calls the play for what it is.

You are willing to call Technical fouls: A strict referee does not allow demeaning comments from a player to an opponent, demeaning to the referee, or demeaning to the game. A technical foul is called and a strict referee changes players by forcing players to behave better and practice good sportsmanship. This referee does not pass on warnings or technical fouls- this referee does not ‘rise above’ bad behavior (some referees think ‘rising above’ bad attitudes on the court is a good thing but with adult basketball, prefers a ‘strict referee’. A strict referee does this calmly without it being personal. This skill takes a lot of time to develop.

Being Accurate & having Good Mechanics

Your calls are accurate. You know all your definitions- and you see the game based on those definitions. You make correct calls. You also have correct positioning and correct mechanics (correct hand signals- you look official out there).


You care about the league, you engage with players and you genuinely like the league. None of those things are required from a referee but if you are ‘that person’- you can discuss getting a bonus of $1 for (being ‘that person’) because those type of referees make the league better. You bring spare uniforms to loan out- to keep the league uniform-rule going- you do this because you care that every game dresses/looks professional- you are not required to do that in basic refereeing, you simply care about the league.

Being The Gym Lead

A ‘Gym Lead’ is the referee who enforces the uniform rule (uniforms & undershirts must match). This referee volunteers to be a ‘Gym Lead’ with a bonus of $1-4 per game; this referee often brings spare uniforms- so that- one way or another every game under that referee’s watch- has matching uniforms. ‘Gym lead’ does the following as well: shows up early to the gym, brings sheets to keep track of fouls, dry mops the court for safety- enters game results and game reports online afterwards. Being a ‘Gym Lead’ is voluntary- no one has to be a Gym Lead. Many referees do not want to be a Gym Lead as they like to show up-referee and head home.

If you are a rookie official or new to and you get the feeling that being a Gym Lead is only for veterans- that is not true- rather- anyone who is timely- organized and cares to enforce the uniform rules can be a ‘gym lead’ and – actually- one of the fastest ways to gain verbal skill and rapport with players in the adult game is- to be more engaged so has encouraged newer referees to be ‘Gym Leads’. Restated: that extra duty of being the Gym Lead- forces newer/rookie referees to engage more with the customers (the Gym Lead does 5 to 6 verbal things before the game even tips off). Equipment needed: spare jerseys, foul sheets & reliable transportation; call 503-380-4539 to discuss becoming a Gym Lead.

Joining A Referee Association

Joining a referee association- is required in this profession; – requires referees to be certified members of an association, as does any youth contractor. Membership in an association verifies that you are trained and certified in your craft. Additionally, most insurance companies used by gyms, recreation districts, schools, etc. (for liability insurance) require that subcontractors be covered by their own insurance- and so- referee associations provide insurance for their members. And- joining a referee association is required for legal reasons (government agencies require it as well). Employees and independent contractors have different requirements with the state for payroll taxes, worker’s compensation, unemployment, etc. The state may require proof of membership with an association to support independent contractor status. If you are audited and are unable to establish your income as an independent contractor you may owe additional back taxes.

Question: which association should you join?
Answer: here are four such associations to consider:

To be a referee for Puget Sound Basketball, please contact Puget Sound Basketball at 206-632-HOOP (4667)
  • Certified referees or past certified referees per game rate varies.
  • Certified referees need to attend 2 meetings/clinics per year.
  • Non-certified referees can make between $10-14 per adult game.
  • PSBL games last an hour and referees can get at least 3 to 4 in a row; some referees can get double-shifts with breaks in-between. This league runs games year around.
  • PSBL Referee “No Drug” Policy: PSBL referees are not allowed to be under the influence of alcohol or other substances whole officiating PSBL games
  • PSBL runs games year round, 51 weeks a year.

What is accomplished at the North Western States Officials Associations (NWSOA) clinics/meetings?

  • Educate referees on the basics of Officiating fundamentals. 
  • Show the level of advantage/disadvantage we want used/fully explain the foul call vs. the no-call.
  • Put all officials on the same page so we form a unified front in terms of sportsmanship, rule enforcement, dress code, and other PSBL policies. 
  • Input/training from senior officials to non-certified officials

Where and when are NWSOA clinics held?

  • Contact Tim Kerns at (206) 632-HOOP (4667) for the next clinic date.