Last weekend I had the best head refereeing experience ever.

I wasn’t in the mood for the game, it was a Heartlands double header, I’d had a stressy week with people making me feel down about officiating and it was set to be the hottest day of the year… so I wasn’t in the best of moods to be in a sports hall.

I was HR, working with Ed Estaire on the inside, Fu and Rocky JR, T-Hex, Big G and my mate Tre COOL (ha) on the outside. The refs’ meeting went well, the captains meeting went better. I’ve previously always been too nervous to relax in captains meetings – remembering how scary they were to me when I used to go to them as a bouting skater, I’m always really hung up on making sure I get the info across properly. But this time I felt far more at ease. I told them what we were doing, how the day would go and we had a little giggle and parted ways. It just made me start the entire thing with a little smile to myself.

The games went well with only one official review. Couple of bits needed dealing with like clocks being wrong, ref errors and foul outs, but it all went really well. Even when I tried to foul out the wrong skater and then fouled out the correct one using the wrong number (penalty box NSOs were just like “are you ok?”). HOW WE LAUGHED. 

Had two skaters come over to congratulate me on my certification and one point at my patch saying WELL DONE. Felt awesome. Bench managers told me that they were really impressed with the reffing and the feel of the bout – and all the officials seemed to be smiling at the end.


Finished up with a lovely sunny drive home and night of films and food with Kel. Really bloody good day. Just what I needed.

Oh and during set-up I managed to spot from the other side of the hall that the track wasn’t laid right. I still have rad track-eyes. Skillz (that are not transferable in ANY USEFUL WAY).


By the end of the year I want to have reached Level 2. I have a plan. It is four steps:

Objective: Continue to ref as often as possible, with different crews in different locations including high level games.
Purpose: Build up communication skills and styles and network of ref friends. Get Evals. Enjoy self.

Objective: Learn to NSO – look at paperwork and their shorthand. Honor Rampage has offered to train me.
Purpose: Aids communication and further understanding. Plus beneficial for when I HR and have to fix problems fast.

Objective: HR “fresher” ref crews.
Purpose: Learn to lead and guide on the fly. Learn to spot failings and give feedback effectively. Learn to have more confidence in self.

Objective: Watch back footage and get feedback. Sit with peers and friends and watch games – preferably with comfort food.
Purpose: Take and give criticism and learn to understand my style and how I can improve it/see what I am bringing to a crew and be proud of it.

Oh and you know…fill in all the forms and send them off. Obv. But I would rather work on being a better ref and enjoy myself in the process than applying for certification again having just done things in order to get the next level.

I’ve had a few ref-upsets the past few days with people bitching at me about how they don’t like how I’m doing something-or-other. It kinda sucks. I usually go out to do something positive but unfortunately that can lead to a lot of misplaced feelings of anger/jealousy/resentment from people who expect good things to happen for them without any effort. None of this is easy. For any of us. Set goals, be proactive, don’t hate on people for their successes, try to celebrate with them and enjoy that good things do happen – and it will happen for you.

Negativity is never the answer. But sometimes Nutella is.

Ref cert by numbers

I was going to blog about how for the past week I haven’t slept well, waking up at 05:00 each day in a panic checking my email to see if Ref Cert had got back in touch with me. How much I love the people who have supported me and helped me apply for it – my mentor Cherry Fury, my go-to-man Metal Ed, my partner in crime Rollin Rat and all the super ace refs that have given me feedback and support – Duncan Disorderly, Tre Cruel, Major Travis T to name but a few. But then I decided that was a bit contrived… so I opted for this instead.



Firstly, you need to have a certain amount of boxes ticked before you can apply. Start by having a read of the Code of Conduct – if you don’t agree with what is in here you need not bother applying because you will be asked to sign and agree to it!

There are five levels of referee certification, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the WIZARD LEVEL.

You have to have achieved the level below to apply for the level above in all cases bar Level 2. Not everyone can apply for Level 1 for reasons I will go into… so some/most people apply straight for Level 2.

Certification comes with an expiry date on it. Once your time is up you lose that certification. Most people will apply for the level above or to retain their level before that time runs out. You still need to meet the criteria for that level you’re applying for even if you are at that level. You are certified for two years at a time but you can apply for the level above within that period of time if you meet the criteria and feel you deserve it.

To apply for any level you need to have handed in a skating skills assessment: This needs to have been witnessed and completed for you by a WFTDA league rep. If your home league isn’t WFTDA or you are independent, you can ask another league rep to witness you at an event/practice. This is not a pass/fail test, it is simply guidance for where you should be and gives you some honest feedback on where you need to improve. This then gets sent to Ref Cert who keep it on your file.

Create and update your Game History. This is an absolute horror for me because spreadsheets are the devil. You can find the WFTDA skeleton sheet here: It includes info on how to make your own and what goes where. I struggled with this a lot and know a lot of refs who did too. If you want to take a look at mine for guidance, email me: and I’ll send you the link. Hopefully that will help.

There isn’t a set amount of games you need to do to apply for ref cert, and there isn’t a timeline of when you should have applied either. You will just know when you think you’re ready. For an idea, I have been skating for about 7 years now, and have been reffing for 19 months. I felt I was ready to apply for Level 1. Some people feel ready sooner, some much later. Go with what feels right to you.

Ok, so you’re feeling ready for it… where do you start?

Level 1 makes sense, but you can only apply for this if you have been to a WFTDA clinic. If you have, you need to complete (and pass) the clinic exam. You can use the rulebook to help you with this test so take your time, take it seriously, and get it passed.

Level 2 requires THREE EVALS from regulation or sanctioned games. This is the *edit: BARE minimum – you should aim for more than three*. Two evals and one clinic exam will be accepted too if you decide to apply straight for Level 2 (I did, and didn’t meet the criteria so they dropped me down to Level 1 – because I had the clinic exam test in there).

Level 3 – apply for this if you have already passed Level 2. If you’ve already passed Level 2 you probably shouldn’t be reading this guide.

If you want to know what these levels mean in human form, you can see who is certified here: Interesting isn’t it? Nice to kinda look at a list and go… oh THAT’S what a Level 3 looks like. (Cherry and Metal Ed, in case you weren’t sure).

As well as the skating skills, the evals, the clinic exam if applicable and that code of conduct… for ALL levels of the referee certification you have to pass the dreaded Hella Hard test. This test can only be proctored by certified referees who have passed it, or WFTDA rep skaters who have no interest in passing it – therefore can see the answer sheet. There isn’t a set list of these refs and skaters, but if you’re in a WFTDA league you should have one of your own, and if not – ask your nearest WFTDA league or certified ref. They will give you a pointer. This test is pretty tough. I took it three times. It is a multiple choice test with scenarios that cover all aspects of the rules. You get 90 minutes to take the test. Use them.

So now you have completed everything, you’re happy and ready to apply to be certified. Something else you should know is that the ref cert team take applications all the time, but will only start looking at them on the 15th of every month. If you apply after that you will have to wait another month before they look at them again.

You need to email them with links to everything and this form, filled out: They will reply to say they received it so if they don’t, double check that they have got it. There are four different regions… so email the right one. EAST (this includes us Europeans): NORTH CENTRAL: WEST: SOUTH CENTRAL:

You can see that all your paperwork has been received here, before you send in your application make sure everything is ticked off: 

Along with your paperwork and prayers to the gods of officiating, you can further boost your chances of getting certified by asking folk to support your application. THIS IS NOT A SCATTER APPROACH, don’t just ask everyone you have met for this. Pick out people who have seen you referee recently, people that you trust and value the opinion of, and ask them (politely) to help you with this. It’s also an idea to tell them what you want them to focus on. Ideas include: professionalism, skating ability, communication, consistency in calls. If you have three people writing you letters of recommendation – give them all a different topic so ref cert see how well-rounded you are as a referee. Get them to email it in before the 15th deadline for it to be considered.

Once the 15th deadline closes you won’t hear anything again until they give you it, or decline your application. They will usually do this by the final day of the month or the 1st of the month. These emails usually come in at around 03:00 GMT. So if you haven’t got the email when you wake up – don’t bother refreshing your email account all day like I did.

When the email arrives… prepare yourself. WFTDA do not give you a shit-sandwich. They just give you the shit. So prepare to suck it up. Their feedback is based on the info from your evals, what other WFTDA refs have said about you and what they found out about you ONLINE. (cringe, right??)

It is bulletpointed and direct. Just… you know… prepare yourself.

And there you have it. That’s what you have to do. Whether you do it or not is up to you. Ref certification isn’t compulsory and once you’re in it it’s an ongoing business to carry it on. If that’s not for you that’s fair enough. I didn’t think I would ever want to do it. But I’m glad I did. I’ll keep you posted on the merits and horrors I experience. But for the moment… LEVEL 1 BABY!