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Refereeing General Certification

Refereeing 101
USA Team Handball
  • Entry-Level (Online Platform – can be completed in your own time)
  • Level 1
  • Level 2
  • Level 3 (National)
  • Continental (NACHC)
  • International (IHF) 
  • Must pass the physical test, Shuttle Run Test (AKA Beep test)
  • Theoretical test (catalogue of questions fromthe IHF rules of the game and/or video clip test)
  • SafeSport certificate
  • Background screening
  • USA Team Handball referee membership
  • Match observations
  • Participation in clinics/workshops throughout the season

***Additional information, instructions for SafeSport, background check, USATH membership, PDF of rules of the game book and catalogue of questions can be found in the resources tab***

EXPLANATION: The shuttle run test is a progressive running test that assesses the physical and cardiovascular endurance of an athlete. The test is done by an individual running back and forth between 2 cones placed 20 meters (≈ 65,6 feet) apart, with an increasing beep sound. The test is over when the individual completes the required level and loops, or when he/she can no longer keep pace.

Materials needed for the test:

  •  At least 20-meters (≈ 65.6 feet) distance for running – flat surface, suitable for running
  •  Cones or markers
  •  Running shoes
  •  Comfortable clothes
  •  Audio with beep speed (Beep Fitness Test)
  •  Polar/Smartwatch for heart rate monitoring (recommended)

1- Place cones (or tape/markings) 20 meters (≈ 65.6 ft.) apart                     

2- Place yourself at one of the cones/tape/markings

3- Start running when the audio instructions tell you to do so

4- Run to the opposite cone, getting there before the next beep

5- Wait until you hear the next beep to run to the other cone/tape/marking

6- Keep running with beeps until you can no longer keep pace or when the test is over

7- If you miss a beep, keep running to the other cone/tape/markings, turn around and try to catch up on the next beep. The test is over when you fail to reach the opposite cone/tape/marking for two consecutive beeps

8- Your score is based on the level and loop you stopped and completed before missing a beep


To pass the physical test, the referees must reach the number of levels (loops) according to the table below:




18 - 29 years old - level 9.5(≈77 loops)

18 - 29 years old - level 7(≈52 loops)

30 - 39 years old - level 8(≈62 loops)

30 - 99 years old - level 6(≈42 loops)

40 - 49 years old - level 7(≈52 loops)

40 - 49 years old - level 5(≈33 loops)

Above 50 years old - level 6(≈42 loops)

Above 50 years old - level 4(≈24 loops)

Waiver: One of the essential duties of the USATH - NRC is to recruit and train prospective referee candidates. For this reason, the USATH - NRC reserves the right to waive certification requirements on the basis of a referee's talent, age, technical and theoretical knowledge, and/or experiences.

Revocation or Removal of a Referee:

The USATH – NRC reserves the right to revoke or remove a referee’s certification and also from the roster temporarily or permanently based on a review of performance, professional and ethical conduct, and whether his/her continuation can be justified. The USATH - NRC's decision is sole and not subject to appeal.

Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct: Prior to the start of an event, nominated referees will receive a copy of the USATH - NRC Officials’ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Any questions regarding referee certification or any general concern, please send an email to:


Referee certification breakdown:
  • Entry-Level (Online Platform - can be completed in your own time)
    • This is an introductory course, and it can be taken at any time using the online platform. It is design to introduce the basics of handball officiating and it is open to the community. This course is a pre-requisite to enroll in the certification level 1.
  • Level 1
    • The level 1 certification is the entry gate for referees to be allowed to perform on the handball court. It is a series of classes taught by a member of the USATH – NRC. It covers in depth the rules of the game, court positioning, hand signals, whistle technique and other important aspects of handball officiating using clips and open discussion. Candidates will be given a theory test and expected to complete the physical requirements as well as fulfill USATH SafeSport certification, background screening and acquire a referee membership using the Sport80 platform. A certificate will be issued if all requirements are completed.
    • Level 1 referees will be able to officiate at their local/regional areas, scrimmages games and at any other recreational handball activities.
  • Level 2
    • At this point, referees already have received level 1 certification and completed and maintained active their SafeSport certificate, background screening and referee membership with USATH. Referees are required to attend clinics and workshops offered throughout the season and keep a record of participation. A theorical test and a physical test will be given again. Candidates must be able to attain a minimal passing score of 75% and reach the appropriate physical level depending on candidates’ age.
    • In addition to perform at local/regional areas, level 2 referees may be nominated to USATH sanctioned events.
  • Level 3 (National)
    • Level 3 certification are given to those who rise to the top based on referees’ dedication, experience, and knowledge of handball refereeing.
    • National referees are nominated to USATH sanctioned events, national and collegiate championships.
  • Continental (NACHC)
    • The USATH - National Referee Committee makes recommendation to the NACHC – PRC on referees who can perform at a high level.
    • The NACHC is the branch that grant continental status to USATH referees.
  • International (IHF) 
    • The International Handball Federation (IHF) makes the invitation to continental referees recommended by the NACHC – PRC to participate in the Global Referee Training Program (GRTP) and after successful participation in this program, referees may be granted IHF international status.