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Referee Positioning

Referee Positions and Responsibilities

3-Referee System

Note: Designations such as "center referee" used hereafter are for the purposes of positioning ONLY and are not meant to indicate meaningful differences between referee status. All 3 water referees have equal status and share officiating duties equally.

Referee Positions:

Refs Starting Play

At the start of normal play (beginning of a timed period, after a goal, etc.):

One referee should line up on the puck (mid-way between the two end-walls) and close to the side-wall. This is the "center" referee.

The other two referees should be at or near the 5-and-2 spots, in opposite ends of the playing area, and on the opposite side of the playing area from the center ref.

Note: In the past, CMAS rules have required the center referee to be on the same side of the pool as the chief referee, and the two remaining water referees to be on the opposite side. Unfortunately, this puts two water referees in the unfortunate position of being directly in front of (and facing away from) the sub-boxes if side-subbing is being used. It might make more sense for the center referee to line up on the sub-box side of the playing area and the two remaining referees to line up on the opposite side, giving them a clear view of the sub-boxes without being in the way of players swimming to or from the sub-boxes. If in doubt regarding the correct starting positions, consult the chief referee.

Refs Advantage Puck

At the start of an advantage puck:

Two referees should line up at the 3-meter plane, on opposite sides of the playing area. The 3-meter plane is an imaginary plane which is vertical, perpendicular to the side-walls of the playing area, and 3 meters directly forward from the puck (towards the end-wall of the penalized team). These two referees should be close to their respective side-walls and far enough from the location of the puck to give them a clear and un-obstructed view of all players without getting in the way of any players (in some playing areas, this may not always be possible).

The third referee should line up behind the play (between the players of the advantaged team and the goal they are defending). This is the ‘third’ position.

Refs Equal Puck

At the start of an equal puck:

Two referees should line up at the plane of the puck, on opposite sides of the playing area. The plane of the puck is an imaginary plane that goes through the center of the puck and is vertical and perpendicular to the side-walls of the playing area. These two referees should be close to their respective side-walls and far enough from the location of the puck to give them a clear and un-obstructed view of all players without getting in the way of any players (in some playing areas, this may not always be possible).

The third referee should line up between the puck and either of the end-walls of the playing area, far enough from the puck to avoid being in the way of the players but still close enough to allow a clear and un-obstructed view of the play. This is the "third" position. Choosing which end of the play to line up on is not of critical importance, and the third referee should simply choose the end that allows him/her to get in position as quickly as possible and which will afford him/her the best view of the upcoming play.

Note: at the start of advantage and equal pucks, the referee in the "third" position should NOT use hand/arm signals that can cause confusion about the location of the 3-meter plane or plane of the puck.

Refs Penalty shot

At the start of a penalty shot:

Two referees should line up on opposite sides of the playing area, close to the defender's end-wall. These two referees should be far enough from the location of the puck to give them a clear and un-obstructed view of the defender and both attackers.

The third referee should line up behind the attackers in a position that gives him/her a clear and un-obstructed view of the defender and both attackers.

During play:

Referee positions during play are dynamic! Referees must move around in order to view the play from the best possible angles. Referees should use the following guidelines to govern their movement and positions:

  • Referees should stay reasonably close to the play, but without getting in the way of players (where reasonably possible) and without allowing the play to get directly underneath or behind them (note that when play is in the corner of the playing area, it will be directly underneath the referee in that corner. This is unavoidable in most playing areas)
  • Refs Side Wall

    Refs End Wall

    Refs Corner

    When play is close to any of the playing area boundaries (and ESPECIALLY when it is close to the end-wall or goal), there should be two referees positioned along that playing area boundary, one on either side of the play. Referees should NOT position themselves directly above the play when this can be avoided (see note above about play in the corner of the playing area). The third referee in all such situations should NOT be positioned along the same playing area boundary as the first two referees, but rather should be distant from that boundary and in a position that allows a clear and un-obstructed view of the play.
  • Referees should position themselves such that break-aways and rapid change-of-possession plays can be viewed both from ahead and from behind. Ideally, there should be two referees ahead of the play and one behind the play at all times. Due to practical limitations, this is not always possible, but it is possible (and highly desirable) to have at least one referee AHEAD of the play at all times.
  • Referees will be required to submerge at times, in order to get the best possible view of the play (most notably when play is near the goal and view of the play is obstructed by players' bodies). Referees should exercise good judgment and foresight when determining when to submerge and when to return to the surface.

Referee Responsibilities:

Jointly, the three water referees are responsible for watching the players and identifying rule infringements, goals, and other events warranting play stoppages

Specifically, each referee should position him/herself according to the positioning guidelines above and identify any rule infringements, goals, or other events warranting stoppage of play that can be seen from his/her current vantage point.

Infringements:

When an infringement is seen and called by any referee, the duties for the subsequent re-start of play are as follows:

At least one water referee should remain on the surface and use hand/arm signals to indicate ALL of the following:

  • The nature of the stoppage (what infringement was committed)
  • The nature of the re-start (equal puck, advantage white, or advantage black).
  • The location where the puck should be set for the re-start (by pointing at the correct location on the playing surface with an outstretched arm and extended forefinger)

If the stoppage was called by a water referee, that referee should assume the signaling responsibilities. If the stoppage was called by the chief referee, any one of the water referees may assume the signaling responsibilities.

One water referee should locate and set the puck. This can be done by any water referee EXCEPT the one who called the stoppage (if indeed this was done by a water referee). The puck should be set as quickly as possible.

The water referee who sets the puck ALWAYS assumes the third position (behind the play) for the subsequent re-start, while the two remaining water referees line up on the plane of the puck (for an equal puck) or on the 3-meter plane (for an advantage puck). Note that this will frequently lead to changes in the relative positions of the 3 water referees. Referees should adjust immediately to their new positions and avoid drifting back to their old positions – Remember, the positions are dynamic!

Goals:

When a referee sees that a goal has been scored, he or she must achieve a stoppage of play. Frequently this requires no action (if players stop voluntarily). If necessary, the referee may use the "Stop Play" hand signal to achieve a stoppage.

Once play has stopped, all three water referees MUST confer with one another (by hand signals and/or verbal communication) in order to reach a consensus regarding the perceived goal.

If any referee indicates that he/she has seen a goal scored AND none of the other referees indicates any goal-negating play (an infringement by the scoring team prior to the goal being scored, for example), then a consensus has been reached and all three water referees should, in unison, give the "Goal" signal.

If any referee indicates goal-negating play, then the goal should be disallowed and the appropriate re-start should be set up according to the guidelines above.

After a goal has been scored and indicated by the referees, one of the water referees (generally the one closest to the puck) should get the puck and set it at the center of the playing area.

In infringement and goal situations that require lengthy discussions (more than a few seconds) amongst the referees, an officials time-out should be called. This can be done by any referee by giving the "Officials Time-Out" signal.