4 Fundamentals of Being a Youth Sports Referee

4 Fundamentals of Being a Youth Sports Referee

With the shortage of sports officials in youth sports, now is a great time to become a referee. It would be a shame if our kids lost the opportunity to play the sports they love because there were no referees or umpires to officiate games.

If you’re interested in becoming a youth sports official, remember that it takes dedication. It can be emotionally and physically demanding. But while the job can be frustrating at times, it can also be very gratifying and fun. Here are four basics of being a youth sports referee:

Certification and Training

Policies on game officials depend on the sports league; some don’t require their referees to be certified. However, acquiring certification helps build your credibility as an official, and it may even allow you to charge more for your services. And because accreditation requires training and testing, you expand your knowledge of your role and responsibilities.

Know the Rules of the Game

Know the game inside and out. Don’t rely on the rules as you remember them from when you played in high school or college; the rules may have changed by now. All youth sports leagues should have a book on the game rules. However, it would be wise for you to have a copy to review when needed. And if your learning style is more auditory and visual, there are also videos you can watch that will teach you the rules of the sport.

Have a Pregame Routine

Just like athletes warm up for a game, so should you mentally. Look sharp in a clean uniform. Never rush to a game; arrive early. Meet with the other referees officiating the game. Inspect the playing area for any potential hazards. Meet briefly with the coaches. Ensure your whistle works. Give yourself a pep talk and get ready for a great game between kids who are eager to have fun playing the game they love.

Mental Toughness

From irate coaches to enraged parents, referees need to be mentally and emotionally prepared for coaches and parents who lose their cool. Not everyone will agree with your call. People are surprised how hot-tempered things can get at a sports event for children. However, when you think about how overprotective some parents can get, you will understand why.

As a sports official, you need to be prepared for parents who take it personally when you call a foul on their kid or coaches who think you made a bad call. You will be booed and called names. Remember that you can’t please everyone. The reality is that there will be times when you will misread a play and get some calls wrong. The best thing you can do is remember your training, know the rules, and ignore the negativity.

Michigan sports venture fund invests in youth-league platform

Opportunity Seed, a Wolverine Lake-based fund that targets sports and tech companies, has invested $150,000 in a youth-league growth platform.

The Michigan fund aims to support organizations with social-impact goals in sports. Its investment in Newark, N.J.-based League Network represents about 10 percent of the $1.55 million total the platform has garnered so far, CEO and co-founder Jay Whitehead said.

The Wolverine Lake fund is an investment arm of Bryan Finnerty, a former member of the Detroit Rockers indoor soccer team owned by Mike Ilitch in the 1990s. He also co-founded and then sold tech company ProtectCell. The entrepreneur was a Crain’s 40 Under 40 honoree in 2006.

Finnerty will also be on the League Network board of directors, Whitehead said.

“There are not that many successful dedicated sports venture capitalists in the country,” he said. “We wanted investors who really understood the youth sports scene, how fast it’s growing.”

Finnerty didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Opportunity Seed umbrella houses three entities: Opportunity Seed Capital, its investment arm; Opportunity Seed Sports, a consultant for sports facilities and sports goods manufacturers; and Opportunity Seed Foundation, which supports youth sports communities with funds from the previous two arms, according to its website.

League Network offers an online fundraising platform, as well as publications with best practices and directories aimed at youth sports organization leaders.

VC Fund Opportunity Seed Backs Sports Fundraising & Media Platform League Network

(July 19, 2018, Newark, NJ) – Michigan-based sports tech and social impact fund Opportunity Seed today announced its investment in Red Herring Top 100 award-winning youth sports media and fundraising platform League Network PBC. Opportunity Seed’s portfolio include sports training software firm V1Sports, all-weather golf apparel company Galway Bay Golf, local sports news platform Varsity News Network, 220,000-square-foot multi-sport facility High Velocity Sports, sports gear donation-with-purchase site Red Truck, sports and fitness stretching studios LYMBR, and sports fan engagement app UStadium.

Opportunity Seed includes three entities: Opportunity Seed Capital (OSC), Opportunity Seed Sports (OSS) and Opportunity Seed Foundation (OSF). OSC invests in the sports and technology sectors. OSS offers consulting services to sports facilities and sporting goods makers. OSF is funded by the success of OSC/OSS and contributes to individuals and organizations to help alleviate the financial pressures that come with the pay-to-play sports models of today.

“For Opportunity Seed, League Network is a fit two ways. Its LeagueGrowth.com e-funding solution is gaining traction in the $3B youth sports fundraising market; and its media platform provides a public benefit by teaching best practices to thousands of team sport organization leaders, many of whom are volunteers,” said Bryan Finnerty, Opportunity Seed CEO. “We also like League Network’s commitment to its trademarked motto, ‘Better Leagues, Better Lives’.”

“Investors with strong domain expertise in the fast-growing $19B youth sports space are rare,” noted League Network CEO Jay Whitehead. “We are thrilled to have a person of Bryan Finnerty’s caliber join our Board of Directors. Bryan is a former pro athlete, a youth sports parent, and an accomplished entrepreneur with a deep understanding of private youth facilities, sports industry economics, and the impact of both on community quality of life.”

CEO of technology publication Red Herring Alex Vieux, which features League Network on its Top 100 List, added, “It’s exciting to see companies forge niches that did not exist before, such as League Network, whose LeagueGrowth.com e-funding platform is becoming as important as e-commerce in youth sports. As a Public Benefit Corporation, League Network is also among a growing number of tech leaders for whom social impact represents a critical value.” Before they became market leaders, brands such as Alibaba, Google, Kakao, Skype, Spotify, Twitter and YouTube have all appeared on Red Herring’s Top 100 Lists.

About League Network PBC

Founded in 2016 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology by serial entrepreneur and longtime youth league leader Anne-Sophie Whitehead, the company’s media, LeagueNetwork.com and TLCSportSummit.com events, and its LeagueGrowth.com e-funding platform work together to help youth sports leagues grow. The company is backed by famous pro athletes and sports industry venture capitalists. More information at LeagueNetwork.com, TLCSportSummit.com.

LeagueGrowth.com.Media contact: Diana Zimmerman, League Network, Diana@LeagueNetwork.com.

6 Traits Your Child Could Develop from Joining Youth Sports

6 Traits Your Child Could Develop from Joining Youth Sports

Sports will teach your kids so much more than how to have the proper form and technique. And while it’s true that sports participation provides enormous physical benefits, the perks of your child playing games doesn’t end there. The reality is that sports offer your kid various social benefits where they will learn valuable life lessons. Here are six top traits your child could develop from joining sports:


The more kids practice, the better they get. And when they see their hard work pay off, children build self-confidence and self-esteem. They recognize that they are in control of their success. Sports give kids the opportunity to try new skills and assess their capabilities. The more improvement they see in themselves, the better they feel about themselves. When kids develop self-esteem, they learn how to assert themselves, making them less vulnerable to aggressors.

Manage Their Feelings

The pressures of winning can be burdensome for children. Over time, kids handle their emotions better as they realize that sports are more than just winning. They learn this with the guidance of a good coach and parents who support and cheer for them regardless of the outcome.


Competition teaches kids that there are winners and losers. More importantly, it shows them that there are valuable lessons to be learned through both successes and failures. Because athletes learn that victories and defeats depend on the level of work they put in; they develop humility and character.


Through sports, kids learn teamwork. They learn how to trust their teammates and support one another. A good coach empowers the member of their team to solve small problems themselves and recognize that their mutual goals are what binds them.

Communication Skills

Team sports offer kids the perfect structure to practice their communication. For the team to function correctly, each member has to know how to communicate accurately. Apart from delivering their messages clearly, they also learn how to listen and look out for nonverbal cues.


In sports, there will be a team captain. However, your child doesn’t need to be the designated leader of the team to develop leadership skills. Leadership is much more than being the most talented player. In life, being the leader is more than being the smartest. A direction is about knowing your strengths and using them when the situation calls for it. Sports help build leadership in your child because it teaches them to recognize their strengths, communicate effectively, and accept challenges.

When your child joins sports, they’re not just enjoying the physical benefits; they’re also improving their mental well-being and social skills. The traits they develop and lessons they learn through sports are things they will carry with them throughout their lives. Their character and leadership will help them in their professions. Their sense of camaraderie and communication skills will help develop lasting relationships. And their self-esteem means that they will have the self-confidence to face life’s challenges.

Why Youth Leagues Should Require Coaches to Be First-Aid Certified

Why Youth Leagues Should Require Coaches to Be First-Aid Certified

From sprains to strains to scrapes, kids are exposed to all sorts of injuries playing sports.

But while many coaches are prepared to clean a wound based on personal experience, how prepared are they if one their athletes choke on a snack, or runs into the goal post and suffers a head injury?

Preparation for the Worst

Many sports require physical contact which could lead to collisions that result in concussions and head trauma. Any trauma to the head is a potentially serious injury that should never be taken lightly. Head injuries range from concussions, scalp wounds, and skull fractures. The problem is that many athletes don’t realize they have one. And too often, coaches don’t have adequate training to administer first aid, mainly if the head injury involves bleeding.

A coach certified in first aid would know how to spot the symptoms of a concussion and know that the athlete should not return to the field or court under any circumstances. A coach who has undergone first-aid training knows how to react when one of their players has suffered a head injury, as they would check the child’s breathing. If the person is unconscious, stabilize the head and neck, keeping it in line with the spine to prevent movement. And if there is any bleeding, stop it by firmly pressing a clean cloth on the wound.

What should a coach do if the athlete is vomiting because of the injury? What if they are behaving abnormally? When the league’s coaches are first aid trained and faced with a medical emergency, they could save lives.

Going Beyond the Call of Duty

A sports coach responsibilities go beyond just teaching their athletes the fundamentals of the game and how to enhance their skills; a coach’s role involves ensuring the kids’ health and safety. It includes injury prevention and extends to be the first responder to injury.

From minor cuts to concussions to even cardiac arrest, first aid training prepares coaches to react to possible life-threatening injuries. In the event of an emergency, your youth league coaches will be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to deliver assistance in circumstances of minor accidents and potentially life-threatening disasters.

Here are some injuries and treatments coaches can be prepared for through first aid training and certification:

  • CPR
  • Muscle and joint injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Chest pains and heart attacks
  • Bleeding
  • Choking
  • Burns
  • Unconsciousness
  • Cramps
  • Head injuries and concussions
  • Asthma attacks and seizures

First aid training and certification takes only a few hours to complete. And once completed, coaches receive a two-year certification which they can easily renew. Remember, accidents, and other emergency situations can happen anywhere. They can occur at practice, at games, on the road, and even when at a restaurant celebrating a win. A coach’s training extends to family, friends, co-workers, and the community.