I'm thinking about american football in particular, but this question could be applicable to other sports.

When I'm watching a game on TV I've noticed the referees are typically very good about spotting penalties. I'm able to notice after the fact on the reply, but only in slow-motion and when the announcers tell me what I'm looking for.

Do the NFL's (or other sports') referees learn or use specific techniques that enable them to spot penalties easily?

2 Answers 2


Same way you get to Carnegie hall - practice, practice, practice.

First of all, not everyone can become an NFL official. They start at low ranks and work their way up. Only the very best make it to the NFL (sort of like the players). The second thing is that referees are looking for penalties. On a pass play, you're looking at the QB who has the ball. The referees is looking at the linemen to see if they're holding. Different referees are looking at different areas of the field to make sure they pick up on the appropriate things. And lastly, they spend a lot of time practicing, reviewing the rules, and there are constant reviews of the refs by the NFL which provide feedback.


That is their main job. They look out for these penalties all the time.

Since there are around 4 referees in a football game, they can consult each other if necessary.

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