Can you Retain Referees with Data?

The number one problem for referee and umpire managers is retaining officials. With a turnover rate of around 35%, which can be as high as 70% for first year officials, it is alarming that more solutions aren’t available for a systemically prevalent issue faced by most leagues and associations.

From all of the leagues and officiating managers we’ve talked to, abuse is far and above the number one reason for the attrition rate. But resources are generally tight in community level sport, and officiating departments seldom receive priority assistance, despite the clear severity of retaining officials who are a vital cog in any sports association machine.

For dealing with abuse, many leagues have implemented an ‘incident report’ system. This requires a referee to submit a report when a serious incident occurs such as a threat of violence or something similar. Although generally acted upon, the cumbersome manual style report is unfortunately not completed as often as it should. Just as concerning, many incidents that are detrimental to a referees well-being fall outside the criteria of a serious incident.

Some leagues and officiating managers have begun to understand the value of collecting data on a game to game basis by collating information in spreadsheets or online forms. Whilst this is a good first step to identify problems, we’ve posted some material about the challenges associated with these methods here.

At RefLIVE, we’ve spent a lot of time working with officials and their managers of all levels to learn about the challenges of their roles both on and off the field. These insights have given us the ability to create a simplified data collection method that enables referees to simply record their well-being, team behaviour ratings and self-assess their performance. Our online dashboard gives helpful insights for managers and officials after every game to monitor the important outcomes, improving retention, reducing abuse and helping achieve consistent performances.

I’d love to hear about the methods your league has implemented to manage retention, feel free to email me at

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