Officiating Program – Overview


The Pickleball Canada (PCO) Officiating Program will define the process to take an interested Candidate from Trainee to Certified Referee.

There are four (4) routes a Candidate Referee can follow to obtain their Credentials:

  • Starting and completing the process in Canada
  • Starting and completing the process in the United States
  • Starting the process in Canada and completing in the United States
  • Starting the process in the United States and completing in Canada

    NOTE: All United States credentials are recognized and accepted in Canada.

Candidates being trained in both countries must work through the Certified Referee Coordinator (CRC) for both Regions i.e., both Canada and the United States.

First Steps

  • Must be at least 16 years of age, and a member in good standing of Pickleball Canada
  • Complete a Referee training class conducted by a Certified Referee or by a Registered Referee Trainer. In-person training or a Zoom session will meet this requirement
  • Self-Training opportunities are offered on Pickleball Canada’s website
  • Thorough knowledge of the Official Rulebook – International Edition and the Referee Handbook
  • Complete online tests:
    a. Player
    b. Line Judge
    c. Referee
    d. Best Practices
  • Practice is essential in the journey to accreditation and gaining credentials to Level 1 and Level 2 Referee and becoming a Certified Referee
    • Start by refereeing social games and work your way toward tournament matches
    • Being observed by a Credentialed Referee is important so that they can provide direction, and ensure that what you are doing is in accordance with Best Practices
    • Refereeing tournament matches will give you confidence in what you are doing and assist in preparing you for assessment to Level 1 and Level 2, and evaluation to Certified Referee
  • Experience in training new Referees has taught us that manipulation of the clipboard and scoresheet, initially takes most of the Referee’s attention. With practice, the Candidate will increase the speed of marking and turning the serving clip. It is important for the Candidate to work to a level of proficiency that does not interfere with the pace of the game.

Level 1 and Level 2 Requirements

Level 1 Referees should:

  • Possess sufficient refereeing skills and rules knowledge to keep accurate score
  • Watch for incorrect servers, and out of position players
  • Call foot faults on the baseline during the serve, and in the NVZ when balls have been volleyed
  • Be capable of refereeing basic non-medal matches at tournaments, but may require some assistance
  • Meet a requirement of 20/30 visual acuity using both eyes (with or without corrective lenses) and submit a Visual Acuity Form signed by a health care professional within the past 12 months

Level 2 Referees should:

  • Possess the basic skills and rules knowledge to competently referee most
    matches at any skill level
  • Capable of handling on-court situations that typically arise during skill-level tournament matches, including medal matches
  • Meet a requirement of 20/30 visual acuity using both eyes (with or without corrective lenses) and submit a Visual Acuity Form signed by a health care professional within the past 12 months

Recommended Maintenance

  • Pass online tests annually
  • Actively referee at tournaments

Next Steps to Achieve Credentials

  1. Obtain an assessment of your refereeing skills by your Trainer or a Certified Referee who will be using the Referee Assessment Form (RAF). As part of the Pickleball Canada referee training session, your Trainer will provide an initial skill review and feedback. An assessment can also be provided following the clinic, later during a practice session or during a match at a tournament that fully complies with the current Official Rulebook – International Edition.
  2. If not assessed as part of the training session, you are responsible for arranging your assessment by contacting the Referee Training Coordinator (RTC) for your region. The RTC will work with registered Trainers or other Certified Referees to help arrange the assessment. Assessment opportunities also exist at many sanctioned tournaments.
  3. Candidates will normally be rated as a Level 1 or Level 2 Referee, depending on their level of proficiency. The Assessor will recommend that credentials be issued to Level 1 and Level 2 Referees and report the assessment results to the Regional Training Coordinator, the Provincial Head Referee, and

    NOTE: Those not being rated to Level 1 will not receive a credential and will remain as Trainees until they meet the performance objectives of Level 1 or 2 Referees.
  4. There is no requirement to have a Level 1 rating prior to getting rated as a Level 2 Referee. Skill and knowledge will determine this Level. There is also no specific time frame between requesting any upgrading assessment.

    NOTE: Referees shall obtain a Level 2 rating before attempting to become a Certified Referee.

    NOTE: Level 1 and Level 2 credentials may be revoked if the Referee is found to be in violation of PCO Code of Conduct.

Preparation for Certification – Level 2 Referee

  1. Request a Mentor through your regional Certified Referee Coordinator (CRC).

    NOTE: You are not required to have a Mentor, but it is highly recommended.
  2. When your Mentor determines you may be ready to be evaluated for certification, you shall undergo an Advanced Training Session (ATS). The ATS is designed to simulate routine game situations that can possibly occur during the certification evaluation. Your Mentor, a Certified Referee, or the Certified Referee Coordinator (CRC) administers the ATS and will ask 4 Players and Line Judges to be present.
  3. You are responsible for finding a court and paying any associated fees. The ATS results will be shared with you at the end of the session and will be reported to the CRC for that Region.
  4. After you successfully complete your ATS, the CRC will conduct a phone, Zoom or in-person interview with you to review the Referee Handbook (Best Practices) and the rules. This review is similar to the compulsories portion of the certification evaluation.
  5. When the CRC determines you are ready for an evaluation, the CRC will notify the Pickleball Canada Referee Administrator to verify your eligibility to apply for the Referee certification.

    NOTE: Currently, Pickleball Canada does not have an evaluation program in place to issue credentials for Certified Referees. PCO does recognize over 20 Certified Referees across the country, as being Certified Referees in Canada. These individuals have completed the training and successfully passed the USA Pickleball evaluation process.

    The first step is to establish a program which will assess and issue credentials for Level 1 and Level 2 Referees. The next step is to move forward with a training program for a group of Canadian Certified Referee Evaluators. The challenge will be in establishing a reciprocal program where credentials are recognized by both countries regardless of where the process starts or completes. Canada will have to ensure that it maintains the same high standard set and expected by USA Pickleball.

The Certified Referee Application Process

  1. You shall meet a requirement of 20/30 visual acuity using both eyes (with or without corrective lenses) and submit a Visual Acuity Form signed by a health care professional within the past 12 months. This documentation is now required at the start of the Referee training program.
  2. Within 60 days prior to submitting your application for certification, you shall have refereed at sanctioned tournaments. You will be asked to provide the dates and names of these events.
  3. Within 14 days prior to submitting your application for certification, you shall have achieved passing scores on the online Pickleball Canada tests:
    a. Player
    b. Line Judge
    c. Referee
    d. Best Practices
  4. Complete the online Certified Referee Application.
  5. After your application is received and the prerequisites validated, you will receive an email confirmation of acceptance into the program. A link will be provided for paying the evaluation fee. If your application is not accepted, you will be notified accordingly. The non-refundable evaluation fee affords the applicant two opportunities to pass the certification evaluation, which includes on-court observation.
  6. After your payment is received, you will receive an email detailing the evaluation process along with a schedule of upcoming on-court evaluation venues and dates.
  7. Evaluations will be conducted at Pickleball Canada Regional/National tournaments and may also be held at select tournaments throughout the country. Scheduling for each venue will be done strictly on a first to apply basis. You will be asked to select your preferred dates/tournaments. You are responsible for any costs associated with traveling to the venue.

    NOTE: The scheduling of on-court evaluations is based on Evaluator availability and the number of Applicants in an area. Therefore, there may not always be an on-court evaluation venue and/or date that is convenient for you to attend. In such cases, a significant amount of time could elapse between paying the evaluation fee and when you are scheduled for an on-court evaluation.
  8. After you are scheduled for a venue and date, a Pickleball Canada Certified Referee Evaluator will contact you directly to coordinate further details relating to the evaluation.

On-Court Evaluation

  1. The evaluation involves a Pickleball Canada Evaluator critiquing your skills and rules knowledge while you referee a minimum of three doubles matches, at least one involving a stacking team and at least one medal match.
  2. The gold medal match for on-court evaluation will no longer require line judges. Certification Candidates will, however, be asked questions about working with line judges during the verbal compulsory section of the evaluation.
  3. Level 2 referees will still be required to demonstrate an ability to work with the line judges during their Advanced Training Session (ATS).

During the Evaluation

  1. You shall:
    a. Display professionalism in your actions, words, and demeanor
    b. Maintain an efficient flow in the matches
    c. Conscientiously watch for and call faults, especially in the non-volley zone.
    d. Use a numbered clip to track servers, moving it to the correct server at every service change.
    e. Mark the scoresheet using the Pickleball Canada Best Practices for each point, side out, and other actions as they occur
    f. Position the clipboard so the clip end always points toward the serving team
    g. When timeouts are called, follow the Best Practices procedures to the letter
    h. Detect incorrect Servers and out-of-position Players
    i. Follow all Pickleball Canada refereeing Best Practices contained in the current Pickleball Canada Referee Handbook

    NOTE: This list of evaluation criteria is not complete and the above only represents some of the required elements.
  2. After refereeing the evaluation matches, you will answer a series of questions, called compulsories, that will cover basic situations that did not arise during your on-court matches. These questions are designed to test your knowledge of the Rulebook and the Referee Handbook.
  3. On passing the evaluation, the Evaluator will take a passport-size head and shoulder digital photo for your ID badge.
  4. If a Candidate fails their evaluation for Referee Certification due to failure to recognize an incorrect Server or Receiver, or a Player in the incorrect position, there is no waiting period to be re-evaluated. This will allow a subsequent evaluation to be conducted at the same or a nearby tournament, thereby reducing expenses and time
    devoted for both the Evaluator and Candidate.
  5. If the failure is due to reasons other than recognizing an incorrect Server, Receiver or Player in the correct position, the waiting period is 15 days. After failure, a second application fee must be paid before a third evaluation will be conducted, after a waiting period of 30 days.
  6. An additional evaluation may be attempted but only after waiting an additional 12 months during which time you shall take another training class, work with a Mentor, successfully complete an ATS, and receive approval for evaluation from your CRC.
  7. If the fourth attempt results in failure, further attempts are not encouraged. However, if extenuating circumstances warrant, permission may be granted with the approval of the National Leader of Officiating.
  8. Appeals for failure to pass an evaluation are limited.
    a. Candidates undergoing an evaluation are welcome to record their matches. The recording shall be performed at the Candidate’s expense and shown to the Evaluator if the Candidate thinks there is sufficient reason to question a judgment decision by the Evaluator. The Evaluator is the only person who can grant relief if the recording clearly shows a mistake was made. Appeals on procedural grounds may be made by email to, with a copy to the Evaluator who conducted the evaluation. Procedural appeals without a copy to the Evaluator will not be accepted.

Certified Referee Credentials Package

After passing the evaluation, you will receive:

  • Two official Pickleball Canada Certified Referee Shirts
  • A Pickleball Canada Referee ID Photo badge and badge holder with lanyard
  • Certified Referee designation on the website
  • One-time acknowledgment of your accomplishment in Pickleball Canada Magazine
  • Priority for refereeing medal and pro matches at Pickleball Canada managed events
  • Certified Referee compensation (where available)
  • Other benefits associated with being recognized as having earned distinction as a Pickleball Canada Certified Referee

Certification Renewal

Referee certification is valid for three years from the date issued. You shall apply for certification renewal within 90 days of expiration. The certification renewal process includes passing online tests, meeting a 20/30 visual acuity requirement using both eyes with or without corrective lenses and payment of a nominal fee. You will then receive a new photo ID badge.


As a Pickleball Canada Certified Referee, you agree to comply with the Pickleball Canada Policy – Code of Conduct and perform officiating duties in accordance with the refereeing Best Practices contained in the current issue of the Pickleball Canada Referee Handbook.

You further agree to comply with and administer the latest Official Rulebook – International Edition in a fair and consistent manner, at all times.

Non-compliance will result in disciplinary action, up to de-certification. A Referee’s certification may be revoked for one year after official notification.

The Referee will be provided an opportunity to respond to the issue(s) identified.

To be reinstated after the one-year revocation period, the Referee shall re-apply for certification and repeat the evaluation process.