Volleyball referee equipment: The best attire and gear

Volleyball referees are essential during a match. They have to decide if a player scored a point or made an illegal move. There are a lot of edge cases in the volleyball rules and the referee has to know these and be able to handle them. Using the correct hand signals is essential as well. This already indicates that it is quite hard to be a volleyball official. Luckily, there are several tools that can help a referee during a match. Let’s take a look at the best of them.

Stand for referees:

Volleyball referees have to be able to see all the action. From following the rotation to seeing if the server is standing outside the court. The players have to see the referee at all times as well so that they can follow the hand signals. To make this easier, they are standing on a stand. These stands are provided by the sports arena. They often have wheels to relocate them if needed. It can take some getting used to standing on a height but referees get used to it. In most instances, there are safety systems to ensure that the stand doesn’t roll away or that the referee can’t fall out of it. These stands need to be inspected regularly to make sure that there are no issues with them.

Accessories for volleyball referees

Volleyball referees need some tools to help them before, during, and after the match. The following items are the main ones: 


Volleyball refs sometimes wear a striped outfit. Standard black pants can be worn under this. In some competitions, the jersey (such as NCAA) has a different look and referees can just wear a colored shirt. This is sometimes provided by the organizers of the competition.


These coins are made to decide which team can start the match. The team captains can pick a side and then you toss it. Coins come with different prints and you should get one that has clear colors so that there is no discussion afterward. Also, avoid designs that might refer to one of the teams, it is best to pick a neutral coin. These coins are specially developed so that the weight is the same on both sides so that each side has a 50% chance of getting selected. This keeps things fair for both teams. 


Yellow and red cards are required if you have to penalize a player. These have to follow the official rules. It is best to get cards that are lamented so that they can handle moisture. Paper cards will crumble and tear so they won’t last long.

Red linesman flags:

These are not used in every competition but can give a great indication if the players are making a mistake. It is important that the flags are big enough and that they are made out of decent fabric. Cheap ones will discolor quite soon. The handles have to be strong as well


referees need a great whistle so that the teams hear your decision. Some whistles need to be blown quite hard and this can be tiring if you have to do it often. Therefore it is a great idea to invest more in this part of your equipment. Some players have issues with their hearing and the whistle has to be loud enough. A string to hold the whistle around your neck is also a great accessory. 

Net measurement: there are metal cords out there that make it easy to check if the net is at the right height. There are separate indicators on this cord for men’s and women’s nets. The height has to adjust from time to time and it is essential to check that the net is at the correct height. Especially during tournaments, it is important that you have an easy tool to determine if the height of the net is correct. This measurement tool makes this an easy and convenient process. 


Most sports arenas have a pump. If you go to smaller arenas, it can be a great idea to bring a pump. The best pumps also measure the pressure and this allows you to check if it is within the required limits. Just place the needle in the valve and you can get an idea of the pressure. Nowadays there are cheap electric pumps that work on batteries. These automatically inflate the ball to the correct pressure. 


Referees are standing still during volleyball. In a lot of other sports, the referee has to run around a lot. Standing still for more than an hour can be quite intense as well. Therefore it can be a great idea to wear indoor sporting shoes. These also provide more grip and make sure that you are standing stable on the stand. You might want to go for a walk during the breaks to keep your legs active. This is another great reason to wear sporting shoes while you are being an official. Sometimes you have to wear specific colored shoes and this is often discussed in the rulebook.


You will need a bag to bring all of your gear. Often a backpack is the best idea as this allows you to bring a lot of gear. Some referees make the mistake of buying a small bag and only realize later on that it can’t hold all of their items. Referees also have to travel a lot so it is important that you have a bag that is easy to carry around. We discussed some great bags before.


The best referees are prepared for anything. It is possible that the shirt of a player breaks or gets dirty. If you have numbered vests with you, you can help the team out. Normally it is the responsibility of the team to bring this but you can help out teams if they don’t have it. This will not happen often but it can be a thoughtful item to bring if you work with school teams given that they don’t always have big budgets for this type of gear. 


all of this can sound overwhelming. Luckily, there are kits out there that bundle the main items so that you don’t have to look around and think about what you should buy.  I personally like the kit of Tandem as this brand has high-quality items. 

To conclude, we can state that a volleyball referee needs quite a lot of items to be able to do his or her job. This ranges from a whistle to cards and flags. Luckily there are some kits that make it easy to get all of these items at once. It is often best to buy decent gear so that it lasts a long time. You can also consider bringing a spare of the most important items (such as a whistle or shoes) as it is annoying if these break during a match.