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Become an Official

Many things go into the making of a good official. Knowledge of the rules and officiating techniques are very important. However, there are other details that may determine whether someone becomes a good official or just simply register to officiate. Read below to learn more or select the "Join Now" button to get started!

How to become an official

How to become an official

Missouri state high school activities association (mshsaa)

The Missouri State High School Activities Association was formed in 1926 to give direction to amateur interscholastic competition between member schools. One of the functions of the MSHSAA in this area is the registration and training of athletic game officials.  The process is easy, inexpensive and fun. You'll be expanding your resume, touching the lives of hundreds of impressionable students and staying involved in high school athletics!  Click here to learn more about becoming a MSHSAA Official


How to register

To become an official, complete the MSHSAA online application form anytime after May 1. Pay your MSHSAA Dues online ($65 for the first sport in which you want to be licensed, plus $30 for the second sport, and $25 for each additional sport). The MSHSAA will forward a packet of study materials to you. You will then take an open-book exam consisting of 100 questions in your home, return the exam to the MSHSAA, and upon passing, your license will be sent to you.

Key information

  • Persons seeking to become licensed must score 75-percent or above on an open-book exam in the sport(s) for which they intend to officiate.

  • If you fail that exam, you may retake it two times. If you fail again, you must wait until the following year to try again. Failing in one sport does not disqualify you from officiating in another.

  • All officials are required to attend an annual rules interpretation meeting in their sports.

  • All officials must attend a mechanics clinic (if offered) during their first three years of registration for the sports in which they are registered.

  • All officials are required to complete an annual Part II sports rules exam (if offered) in each sport for which they are registered.

What it takes to be an official

The need is great for new officials. Many times new officials register with the MSHSAA and then fail to renew their registration for the next season.

Perhaps there are several reasons why new officials fall from the ranks. In some cases, they could have moved from the state and may continue their career elsewhere. Others failed to renew their registrations because they were unable to work any games or only a few in their rookie season. Many realized that the officiating business was not for them. However, there were some who were influenced in their decision by coaches, fans, and even fellow officials. Too often a coach is critical of young officials who, because of lack of experience, have not learned to cope with the situations that arise in the course of an athletic contest. Many times a veteran official is critical of his/her young partner or even worse the "older and more experienced man" refuses to work with the younger official who is trying to become established.

The life of an official is not an easy one. Perhaps the first year or two are the toughest, but like the formative period in anyone's life these first years are all important. The most important requirement is that you must gain experience. That means you have to work all the games you can find. Be ready and willing to work YMCA games, church and industrial league games and scrimmages. Somehow, you have to get the feel of it, and the only way to do that is to officiate. The key is to be patient, and when you get your first interscholastic game, make sure you are prepared to properly handle the assignment.


tips to help you as an official

  1.  THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR STUDY. Textbooks are made available through your state association, such as rule books, case books, interpretation meeting folders or handbooks, the Officials Manual and the MSHSAA Journal, which contains many items of importance to officials. Game rules are generally complex and you don't learn them without extensive study. Many experienced officials still average several hours each week of solid study of the rules publications. There is no sadder spectacle than an official who doesn't know the rules. You learn the rules by means of thorough intensive study.

  2. ATTEND ALL RULES INTERPRETATION MEETINGS WITHIN YOUR REACH. They are arranged for the purpose of reviewing old rules, explaining new ones and giving positive interpretations on the more tricky ones. It is also a good place to get acquainted with fellow officials, coaches, and athletic directors.

  3. ATTEND MECHANICS CLINICS WHEN AVAILABLE. Knowing and understanding proper positioning will enable you to make the right call.

  4. JOIN A LOCAL OFFICIALS GROUP. There may be one in your area or not too far away. Many of these local groups meet regularly for rules discussion and for discussing common problems. The state sponsored meetings are important but local groups must take over in a follow-up program of rules study and interpretations.

  5. TAKE THE RULES EXAMINATIONS PROVIDED BY THE MSHSAA AND BY YOUR LOCAL GROUP. The National Federation examinations provide an excellent review and a thorough test. There is no finer review of the rules than the challenge presented in actually writing a good rules examination.

  6. SEE ALL THE GAMES YOU CAN, especially games worked by capable officials. It is one of the best ways to learn about the technique and mechanics of officiating.

  7. ALWAYS STRIVE TO IMPROVE. The game of officiating has no place for an official who doesn't want to improve himself. Here, you either get some place or drop out; you can't stand still. Give attention to such factors as rules examination grades, ratings received from schools and assistance from rules meetings. 


other items that make a good official

  1. When you start out for a game, plan to be there early. It is better for you to help the janitor open the front door than it is to rush in breathless at the opening whistle. The time preceding the game can be used to confer with fellow officials. Go over some pertinent phases of the rules. Talk over the general plan of administering free throws, position of touchdown plays, etc. Many of these items may be found in the officials manual for each sport. A good pre-game conference is very necessary and a must.

  2. Out on the floor or field do your share of running.

  3. In your attitude toward players and coaches, be kind and polite but firm. It is a big order and few ever fill it completely. But this is what it takes! Be firm but not overbearing. Be courteous and never rude. Be dignified but never cocky. Be friendly to players but avoid "kidding" on the floor or field.

  4. With the game at an end, your duties are over. It isn't your job to congratulate the winner, console the defeated, or offer advice to the losers. It is business-like for officials to leave the floor or field together, neither seeking out nor deliberately avoiding the two coaches, and this is a good thing to remember as the game is completed. Make no statements and offer no comments concerning the game to members of the press or radio. Your best bet is to shower, dress, collect your gear and head for home; not because you are afraid or ashamed to talk to anyone, but the game is over and your job has been completed. There is no need to hang around.


Local officials associations

Although the MSHSAA does not require member officials to belong to certified local officials associations, it is strongly suggested they join one whenever possible.  Many important ideas and officiating methods can be learned from a membership in a local official's association. Click here to Join Now! If you still have questions, please contact us.

The Greater Kansas City Officials Association is registered with the MSHSAA and has met the criteria as a Certified Local Association.

Uniform information

MSHSAA requires specific uniforms and equipment by sport.  You must purchase the necessary uniforms for your sport.  Visit for all your uniforming needs.

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