Referee Certification

Referee Credential Process for USA Powerlifting

USA Powerlifting has seen unprecedented growth nationwide in membership and the number of competitions sanctioned. Not only has the membership base in Maryland doubled in the past 5 years, DC has seen its membership base triple, and Virginia has seen at least a five-fold increase. To say that our infrastructure has been strained is an understatement. Recruiting State Referee candidates is crucial in determining long-term success of our sport.

While it is our goal to increase the number of credentialed State Referees in Maryland and Washington, DC, we need more than just an increase in numbers; our sport needs referees that exemplify natural leadership, good sportsmanship and integrity. A State Referee credentialed by USA Powerlifting should be willing to volunteer their time and energy more than just once every few years.

The Requirements:

The following requirements are set forth in the current USA Powerlifting Rule Book:

State officiating tests are administered by the USA Powerlifting State Chairperson, upon request. They
are evaluated by the appointed member of the Referee’s Committee. Requirements for taking the state
referee test are:

1. Candidates must be a minimum of 18 years of age. Candidates must be current members of
USA Powerlifting. Registration cards must be presented to the State Chairperson prior to test

2. Candidates must have approval of their State Chair to take the test.

3. Candidates must be actively involved in the sport of Powerlifting for a minimum time period of
one year in one of the following capacities: athlete, coach, meet director, or scoring table

4. Candidates must pass the written (passing score = 80%) and practical (passing score = 90%)
portions of the test

5. When necessary, re-test arrangements may be made after a minimum of six weeks following
the previous test date.

The Process:

-Observation/partnering with a current referee at a local meet. Step one of the credential process is optional, but highly recommended to determine if the process is right for you. You will be paired with a senior referee and given the opportunity observe their duties, watch how they interact with athletes, staff and spectators, and ask questions as necessary. This “Ride along” is an effective opportunity to determine if you will be comfortable in the position, observe attempts up close, and experience a practical application of the rules. If you decide that becoming a credentialed referee is not for you, you will leave with a greater understanding of what our referees are looking for, and you will be a better powerlifter for the effort. The partnering process will also offer a measure of self-confidence as you progress further into the credentialing process.

-The practical exam consists of a referee recruit partnered alongside a referee to observe 100 attempts (40 Squats, 30 Bench Presses and 30 Deadlifts.) The recruit will determine if the attempt is a good lift or no-lift per the rules of competition. A score of 90% or greater is needed to pass.

-The written test consists of 100 multiple choice questions and a two-hour time limit. This test is taken online, and is open book. This test will require considerable studying to pass, and requires a grade of 80% or higher to pass.

-Every State Referee and Meet director is required to become Safesport certified, and will need to submit to a background check by Verified Volunteers. More information can be found at

The intangibles:

There are a few things to look for in a referee recruit:

-Someone who isn’t necessarily strong, but is technically sound in their platform manner. You can usually tell who is familiar with the rules.

-Good sportsmanship is a must. We don’t have time for head cases.

-Someone who asks questions, and is coachable.

-Someone who is willing to help with things like setup and breakdown at a meet, cleaning up the venue, etc. Our sport runs on sweat equity, and we need people willing to chip in and help.

-Natural leaders are easy to spot. We keep an eye out for those types, whether or not they’re Champions.

The following study tips have been forwarded from the National Office:

  •    You will only need a score of 80% or more to pass the written exam, and to prepare, I would suggest printing out the lifter’s handbook, and read it through a couple times. It is only 15-20 pages and has most of the answers in it, having it in front of you helps quite a bit. (the test is also open book) You can print it here . I would suggest knowing the card colors, weight classes, and age groups.
  •     I would also highly encourage people to read the questions in their entirety, as questions often ask about specific rules or scenarios. That is probably the most frequent mistake I see. I would also say that as a meet director, maybe you taking them through scoring or reffing scenarios would help as well, things such as changing attempt selections, improper gear on the platform, just general “what should you do when…” kind of scenarios.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a State Referee for USA Powerlifting. Rest assured you will gain an immense amount of personal satisfaction by becoming an official in our sport. Please email to start the process of becoming a credentialed referee with USA Powerlifting.

Mike Sichelman
State Chairman
USA Powerlifting Maryland

%d bloggers like this: