BAFRA Members’ Handbook – Training

Training, assessment and review

Induction training

When a new member joins BAFRA, the Director of Training will arrange for him/her to undergo the induction training programme. This can be done in a variety of ways, including:

  • an intensive training course (perhaps a full day) one-on-one or for a group of new members
  • one-on-one training over a number of sessions (e.g. evenings spread over a number of weeks) with a training “buddy”
  • a guided reading of the training material via email or telephone

Which way depends on the new member’s availability and also the location of the nearest suitable trainer.

The Director will provide the new member with copies of the Induction Training Manual and Induction Training Log, as well as the Rulebook and Manual of Football Officiating. In addition to rules and mechanics (where to stand and what to look for), the course will cover the fundamentals of officiating and the structure and aims of BAFRA. Details about uniform and how to obtain it should also be explained at this stage. The new member will be made aware of the commitment necessary to officiating both on and off the field, including attendance at meetings, local, regional and national.

In addition to the induction training course, the new member is encouraged to attend local association meetings and to talk to other members about their on-field experiences. They are also encouraged to watch games on TV or video, to learn to read formations and possibly spot infractions, and to read other books on officiating in addition to the Rulebook and Manual of Football Officiating.

At the end of the induction training course (or earlier if the new member is ready), a “competency test” is administered. If this is passed, the new “competent member” is eligible to go on the field.

The rookie, the training officer and the scheduler should agree on a suitable game for the rookie’s debut. The training officer or another experienced official should accompany the rookie on the field both as supervisor and also as back-up official for that position for reasons of player safety. The back-up official will guide the rookie through the procedures they learned in induction training and give them encouragement and support. Comments can be made both between plays and at half time and the end of the game. As the rookie develops confidence they can be left more and more to their own devices.

After their first game, the rookie official can be assigned to games on their own, providing that they can be placed on a reasonably strong crew that can give them support and guidance, particularly on the procedures that don’t occur in every game. The referee or another senior official should fill in a page of the Induction Training Log for each game, making constructive comments about the rookie’s progress. After the rookie’s 10th game, the Log should be completed and sent to the Director of Training for validation. At this point the official ceases to be regarded as a rookie and becomes a “qualified member”.

Problems with the above process, including but not limited to lack of training material or problems with training officers, should be referred to the Director of Training.

The BAFRA membership categories

Full members of BAFRA are considered to be in one of three categories relating to their capability to officiate. These, and the routes between them, are shown in the following diagram:

After joining, a member must pass a competency test in order to be able to officiate. Once 10 games have been worked satisfactorily, the member becomes qualified.

The Director of Training (subject to review by the Executive Board) may deem a member “competent” or “qualified” on an individual basis if they have evidence of considerable experience of American football officiating (e.g. in another country or as a BAFRA member in the past). This procedure will not normally be used to give “qualified member” status to someone who has been inactive for more than 2 years or who has not sat the most recent BAFRA exam.


The Annual BAFRA Examination is held in March/April each year. The exam is in open-book format and there is no formal pass mark. A small committee is responsible for setting and administering the exam.

A qualified member who does not sit the annual exam will have to pass the competency test and work 10 games as a “competent member” before regaining “qualified member” status.


BAFRA relies on a volunteer band of assessors to observe games and to complete a assessment report on the crew. Assessors are paid the same fee as an official working that level of game. Friendlies count as league games for the payment of assessors. All assessors are paid travel expenses at the normal rate if they travel more than 100 miles roundtrip to the game. The following guidelines for assessments are offered as good practice:

  • The assessor should make themselves known to the crew and attend the pre-game conference and post-game debrief. The assessor’s name should be included on the Game Report form.
  • Assessment reports should be forwarded to the Director of Training within 7 days of the game. Failure to do so may result in no fee being paid.

Assessors should concentrate primarily on evaluating the officials’ mechanics: other factors such as rules knowledge and application are secondary. Fundamentally, is each official in the right place at the beginning of the play, do they react appropriately as the play develops, are they in the right position when the play becomes dead, and do they carry out the correct duties between downs?

  • The best assessment reports include a lot of comments that provide clear and constructive criticism. Good points should be highlighted as well as bad ones.

Failure to adhere to these principles won’t automatically disqualify an assessment from consideration but may be taken into account by the Director of Training in whether a particular individual should be used as an assessor again.

Officiating Review Committee

The Officiating Review Committee is responsible for judging individual officiating standards. It deals with complaints that an official, in one of more aspects of their on-field performance, is deficient in rules application, mechanics, procedures or judgement. Anyone can make a case to the Committee (via the Director of Training), but it must be in writing and supported by independent evidence (e.g. a videotape or statements from independent witnesses). The Committee shall invite the official concerned to make a written submission to it in defence or mitigation. The evidence will be examined by the Committee who will decide whether the official’s performance was inadequate. If so, the Committee may take the following action against an individual:

  • issue them with a warning concerning their officiating standard;
  • place restrictions on the games they may work;
  • demote them by one or more grades;
  • suspend them from officiating for a period of time of up to one year;
  • recommend expulsion from membership;
  • order the following of a specified training plan.

Normally in the first instance a warning would be issued together with a plan of further training. Further action might be taken if the warning is not heeded. A member has the right of appeal to the Board (or the Appeals Committee) concerning action taken against them.

Note: at the moment the Executive Board acts as the Officiating Review Committee.