The APP Referee Development Initiative (ARDI) is designed to establish a top-tier platform for USA Pickleball Credentialed referees, providing them with multiple opportunities for development, support, and advancement.
Fair, Consistent, And Professional Officiating
In doing so, ARDI provides the APP with an environment in which the most skilled USA Pickleball Credentialed referees can excel, ensuring fair, consistent, and professional officiating at every tournament. This initiative not only raises the bar for officiating standards at APP tournaments but also attracts, nurtures, and retains the finest referees within the pickleball industry.
Conceived by APP Founder Ken Herrmann and Mark Peifer, who serves as the APP’s consulting director for referee performance and development, ARDI represents the culmination of Herrmann’s innovative approach to sports development.
Mark Peifer states, “Ken has always been an innovator in the sport. He’s got a very healthy reputation within the sport of being an innovator when it comes to the development of those who participate in the sport, and this is just the next iteration that I see.”
Achieving Higher Credentials
After retiring, Herrmann approached Peifer to join the APP with a view to Peifer using his expertise to make tournament refereeing most consistent. This led to the creation of ARDI as Peifer says: “What started it all was Ken’s desire to make sure he had the right kind of development to make sure that that professionalism is shown on the court.”
Under Peifer’s leadership, a team of two referee performance and development specialists will oversee designated ARDI tournaments, offering feedback and guidance to referees of various levels, from Unrated to Certified. This feedback aims to support referees in achieving higher credentials, refining their skills, and ensuring adherence to detailed rules knowledge.
While not all APP tournaments will be designated as ARDI events, several stops on the 2024 APP Tour have been selected, including Sacramento, Miami, Cincinnati, New York City, Southern California (Major), Chicago, Dallas, and Fort Lauderdale.
“A Positive Experience”
“I’d love to see more Level 1s and Level 2 referees come into the program because they know they’re going to get focused attention in tournaments,” said Peifer. “They know they can come and get focused attention to help them get better, so the thing I’m most interested in is to see what kind of retention rate we get with the referees.
“If we make this a positive experience for Level 1s, Level 2s, and Certified Refs, I think this will take off, and I’ll have more Certified Refs who will want to be specialists to help in this endeavor.
“Most referees have a predilection already to want to help other referees as part of its kind of core competency, if you will, of the referee population. We all love helping one another, so this is another extension of what comes naturally to referees.”
We are launching a new Referee Development Initiative!— APP Tour (@OfficialAPPTour) February 8, 2024
The APP Referee Development Initiative aims to create a world-class platform where @USAPickleball referees receive unparalleled development, support, and opportunities for growth.
Learn More 🔗 https://t.co/8hOfNBIdFa pic.twitter.com/K9rdX4mAdE
Realistic Game Scenarios
Jeannie Harmon, a Level 2 referee who took part in the pilot ARDI event at the APP Punta Gorda Open, praised the program for its realistic game scenarios:
“Tournament games represent a more realistic flow of actual play events and errors, for example, the rain delay,” she said.
“The feedback was presented in a very positive style, and even felt like being part of a team. Suggestions on ways to improve were reviewed after the match, and both Certified Referees that observed me were excellent.”
“They Do It For The Love”
Melissa McCurley, APP Executive Vice President of Competition, agreed: “I was on the scene before there was a referee program, I saw Certified Referee number one be certified,” McCurley says, referring to Sandy Brown.
“I understand what this program is contributing to the sport, and it also gives people an opportunity to decide if refereeing is for them. I think it will continue to expand the amount of referees that are available not only for the APP but to the sport.”
“Many of the referees at the APP have been doing this since volunteer days, she adds. “They do it for the love, right? It’s a hobby, it’s a passion, it’s not something they’re making a living at.”
McCurley reflects on the evolution of refereeing standards, from their beginnings of only wearing casual attire to present-day professionalism. Today, referees not only present themselves impeccably but also undergo rigorous training, ensuring high-quality officiating across all APP tournaments.
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