Fantastic Video series from Judyth Wiercinska
The following is intended as a guide to better referee techniques and procedures written by the
Master Referee Leonard Harkless
1. Know the rules so well that you don’t have to think about making a call, so that you are just reacting to what is
happening on the table.
2. If the armwrestler is telling you something about the “set up”, quickly check on his or hers concerns but don’t
get into a conversation with the armwrestler.
3. Dress the part of a professional referee and you will get the respect that you deserve.
4. If you make a mistake, admit it and fix it if you can. No one expects you to be perfect but don’t lie about what
happened, that is much worse than making a mistake.
5. Don’t put your hand on the table for the armwrestler to touch for a parallel pin. Use your eyes to make the call.
6. Expect the armwrestler to obey your commands in the set up. Don’t force the hands into place.
7. When a competitor complains to you about a call, remain professional.
8. Don’t be several feet from the table. Be close to the table so that you have a close up view of the match.
9. If the two armwrestlers are becoming combative to each other, take control and go right to referees grip. It is
your job to maintain control of the match, don’t let the situation escalate into something bad.
10. Give the armwrestlers a chance to get their own grip before you attempt to help. Don’t rush them remember
that at 30 seconds you will go to the referees grip.
11. When putting on the ref grip always ask before they grip whether they want to cover their thumbs. Speeds up
the set up and less chance for someone to move.
12. Repeat many times during the ref grip "Don't Move". This helps to calm the pullers and less fouls for movement
in ref grip.
13. When putting on the straps as a down-side, hold the hands and use your thumb to hold the strap in place,
especially with the new strap set up. If the strap slips with this new set up then it is hard to tighten at the end.
14. When putting on the new strap set up, after you wrap each wrist, pull the strap tight and hold it tight.
15. The new strap setup requires moving the competitor’s elbows forward for the application. After applying the
strap slide the elbows back and the straps cinch up tighter.
16. Remember the ‘golden rule” you can’t expect the armwrestler to keep their temper if you cannot as the referee.
17. Grabbing the hands when you call the winner is the best way to make sure that the armwrestlers stop and you
have control of them if one of the competitors does not stop armwrestling.
18. Make all calls in a timely manner and then if your other referee has a different call or you can plainly see that
they have a different call, pull them aside and have a discussion with your other referee and agree on a call.
19. If you and your other referee cannot come to an agreement, call over the event head referee to have him or her
make the final call. The downside referee has as much say in the calling of matches as the table head referee.
1. As a referee, if you don’t keep your composure and emotions in check, how can you expect the competitor to do
the same. Keep your composure at all times.
2. It doesn’t matter if your best friend or worst enemy is on the table; everyone gets the same set up and calls.
3. Develop a routine that allows you to do the same set up, all the time, for everyone.
4. Keep your eyes roving; do not let them get locked on any one spot for any length of time.
5. Use a command voice and the athlete will respond to your directions.
6. If both wrist are not straight, start with one and get that one almost straight, then go to the other wrist. Use this
back and forth until they are both straight, don’t try to straighten them both at the same time.
7. Don’t be rushed into blurting out the start cadence, say each word clearly so that both armwrestlers are given a
fair start and they are both ready for the start.
8. Use only the words specified in the rules so that the athletes, that don’t understand English, are not confused.
9. Coordinate with your other referee on which elbow you are looking at initially on the start.
10. After giving the start sequence, as the head referee, step and drop into the open corner so that you can see pins
at eye level with the touch pad and you can see across the table.
11. At the same time you are dropping into the correct position, move your eyes down from the hands to the
12. As a down side referee get yourself into the corner of the table and be at pad high position with your eyes.
13. During the match, watching intently the hands is not helpful, keep your eyes moving.
14. After stopping the match for a foul, make sure you repeat the calls that were made for each competitor so that
everyone knows exactly how many fouls and warning are given to each armwrestler.
15. Only raise your hand following a call to signal a winner of the match.
16. Signal all foul calls below your waist.
17. Use your forefinger looking directly at the athlete when making a warning call.
18. There is nothing wrong with threatening to give a warning or foul but then you must follow thru if the athlete
does not listen to you.
19. Make all calls regardless of what the foul count is. It is not our fault if a foul called means that someone loses,
nor do we get credit for someone winning on our calls. The call is the call, regardless of the outcome.
20. When tightening the strap keep it as far back on the hand, away from the knuckles, as possible to insure a fair
21. When putting on the strap you use two fingers on the back side wrist, that you do not have a view of, to ensure
that you are 1 inch down on the wrist.
22. You have to actually see something to make a call, just knowing it is not enough.
23. Grab the hands at the same time you call a winner to make sure they both know the match is stopped.