Head Referee May. 10 2024| 0 KB

Content Type: FIRST Robotics Competition, Volunteer
Program: FIRST Robotics Competition
Tags: Training, Volunteer

The Head Referee for FIRST Robotic Competition is a key volunteer position. They are in a high visibility leadership position that is responsible for training, directing, and supervising all Referees and Official Scorers (when applicable). They oversee all scoring processes and procedures, in collaboration with the FIRST Technical Advisor (FTA). They work and interact with students, volunteers, and contracted/FIRST staff, always displaying Gracious Professionalism even in stressful situations. This physical role, positioned along the field border, has final authority for decisions regarding match scores. They play a critical role in ensuring smooth flow of match play, facilitating a positive and fair environment for all competitors, and maintaining the pace of the event.

The Head Referee is submitted by the Volunteer Coordinator. Once submitted, the individual must be approved by FIRST, including the Co-Chief Referees. Once approved the candidate will be contacted and assigned by FIRST HQ.

*Must sign a Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Statement prior to start of service. A conflict of interest does not necessarily preclude an indiviudal from being assigned the Head Referee role. 


  • Complete Head Referee training as provided by FIRST HQ and the Co-Chief Referees
  • Work with the Volunteer Coordinator prior to event to ensure the referee (and official scorer as applicable) roles are filled and certified
  • Supervise Referees and Official Scorers (as applicable), starting with a conference call for the event's Referee crew before the event begins (approx. 1 week before the event begins)
  • Wear provided Head Referee shirt (provided by FIRST HQ) and safety glasses when in the arena
  • Obtain a radio from event management office to keep aware of event information and issues, return it to the office at the end of day 
  • Secure and distribute referee supplies, manage referee radio sets (ensuring they are charged in advance and returned at the end of the day), and pack Referee case at the conclusion of the event
  • Attend daily morning meeting as directed by Event Manager
  • Facilitate a positive and fair competition environment for all participants
  • Observe matches, "call" rule infractions
  • Lead score deliberations, if necessary, and make final decisions regarding match scores or contested penalties
  • Monitor and promote safe practices on and around the playing field leading by example
  • Participate in deliberations with the FTA, Field Supervisor, and Lead Robot Inspector regarding robot-related issues as required
  • Only individuals who have been issued the FIRST role specific apparel may wear it for both official and non-official FIRST events

Experience and Skills Needed

  • Minimum age: 23
    • Exceptions may be granted by FIRST HQ
  • 4 prior years of FIRST Robotics Competition referee experience (exceptions may be granted by FIRST HQ)
  • Head Referees are limited to 3 events per season (exceptions may be granted by FIRST HQ)
  • Ability to balance the nature of the position as one of ensuring fair play, while acting as a mentor and role model to students participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition
  • Thorough knowledge of the competition game and rules of play, including staying up-to-date with Team Updates (must pass two online certifications by the deadlines established by the Chief Referees each season)
  • Approachable personality; high energy
  • Have strong communication skills, and ability to be assertive but tactful
  • Self-directed individual
  • Ability to collaborate with others; work as a member of a team
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to move about the field and stand for long periods of time
  • Strong assessment skills

Volunteer Time Commitment

  • Pre-event season training
  • Online Head Ref Periodic Training - every 3 years
  • Must successfully complete online Head Referee & Referee certifications by the deadline set by FIRST HQ
  • Minimum 2 full day commitment (Districts)
  • Minimum 3 full day commitment (Regionals)

Note: Event schedules vary. Please check the event schedule and talk to your Volunteer Coordinator for detailed information on when you are expected to arrive. Volunteers should arrive on site 15-20 minutes prior to the start of every shift to allow time to check in at the Volunteer Registration table.


Game-specific training is provided by FIRST HQ prior to the competition season. Includes: recorded web conferences, teleconference(s), manual and other support materials, email communications, and/or one-on-one support.

In addition, Head Referee Periodic Training, which is not game or season specific, must be completed by all Rookie Head Referees. Veteran Head Referees must complete online Head Referee Periodic Training every 3 years in addition to season specific training each season. Veteran Head Referees may be asked to complete the Head Referee Periodic Training in order to remain qualified. 

Reporting Relationships and Supervision

  • On-Site Support: Volunteer Coordinator
  • Support by FIRST Technical Advisor, Co-Chief Referees, and designated FIRST HQ contact


* Must read and comply with the Volunteer Handbook