Think about it, who interacts with your customers more than your paintball referees? Do you want someone that smiles and helps your customers or someone that is just there using oxygen?
We hired our referees with these qualities:
- Must smile during interview (if they are serious and are scared do not put them on a paintball field).
- Must have an ability to communicate effectively (someone that is soft spoken will not command attention of your players).
- Must want to be around people (in other words, someone that is a techy computer person might not be the best candidate).
- Must like kids (if they have younger siblings they are usually better suited to handle other kids their age or younger).
- Must be trustworthy ( employees that do not show up can cause grey hairs when your group is ready to start playing).
- Make sure that transportation is not an issue (talk with parents if they do not have a vehicle).
- Make sure you share with the prospective employee that this job is not easy, has long hours, you WILL get shot several times each day, that the weather is not always comfortable, and your hours may fluctuate.
Training of these referees is very important. You will want to make sure that they understand all the safety rules such as when goggles on starts and ends, barrel blocking devices on where and when, the importance of making sure that the players are safe and not getting over shot. We also had our refs monitoring the staging areas in between games. They made sure that the players were getting goggles cleaned, filling hoppers, Co2 or compressed air, so that they were ready to go in 5-10 minutes maximum. Make sure your refs look like refs with uniform shirts or jerseys in a bright color. We used black and white striped ref jerseys just like the NFL at one field. At our family fun center we used florescent green tshirts.
Now the answers to the question how do I train my refs and what do I teach them:
Getting started in the morning:
Have the refs there 1 hour prior to starting play. Get all equipment ready for any groups and then separate for walk ons. Have extra tanks filled so you can just exchange tanks instead of having them waiting for rental tanks. Have refs walk the fields looking for any nails sticking out of bunkers, any glass on the ground, any sharp items or rocks by the bunkers, any torn netting that needs to be fixed prior to starting. Make sure chronograph is ready to go in target area. Make sure refs have whistle, towel, goggles, watch to call the time limit.
We taught our refs how to identify problem kids or players that might be inclined to lift their masks or not pay attention to the safety rules. Look for players that brought their own masks that might be single lens masks that could be prone to fogging up quicker.
We taught our refs to identify the sound when someone has their gun in ramping or full auto, you do not want those modes on your rec field with rec players. Also when a gun sounds like it is shooting hot.
Have the refs walking the staging area talking to the players as they are getting ready to play. Refs should introduce themselves to players to make them feel more comfortable. Have refs giving directions to the registration area, bathrooms, chrono area, making sure that they have signed the waivers, gotten their tanks filled; gotten their paint and help customer fill their hoppers and pods. Check their masks to make sure that they are clean to prevent fogging.
If you have a birthday party or bachelor party coming in, identify the celebrity person and have them wear something that makes them stand out, a clip on their mask, a shirt, something that makes them special. Have all the employees know that person’s name and call them by their name congratulating them ALL DAY LONG.
If ref gives safety briefing, have the ref read from written safety rules so that everyone hears the same thing every day. If you have the ability to have on a dvd better. Make sure EVERYONE hears the safety briefing every day. Explain the layout of the fields and what fields you will be playing. Explain boundaries of fields, where goggles must be put on and kept on, where barrel blocking devices must be kept on, chronograph/target area, chrono speed, etc. A great idea for employees for safety briefings and registration is hiring retired people. Everyone listens to a grandmother or grandfather. They are excited about having a job, you get an employee that will show up, and loves to work with kids. Interview looking for aggressive, strong personalities that do not take crap from anyone.
Ok its time to take the players to the field to start playing, make a quick stop at the chrono area, with refs starting the goggle on speech. Have them wait as a group and walk all of them to the field explaining what they are seeing such as other fields or boundaries, just like a tour guide at Disneyland!
When the refs get the players to the field that they are playing, have the boundaries explained again, the rules of the game such as capture the flag or elimination. Have the refs choose the teams, attempting to balance the talent. Remember to adjust if the teams are lopsided after the first game or two. Refs should walk their prospective teams to the flag stations and explain where they should go to get to the best bunkers, giving advise on how many players should go to each side, explain where the other team might push to get to attack them.
Refs should then position themselves on the field to be on the 5-10 yard line to be able to see the back side of the bunkers to catch someone that might have mask challenges and might lift their masks. Refs need to move from right to left and talk with all the players advising them where to shoot, when someone is moving up on them etc. This is not cheating; this is assisting the rec players to enjoy their day of paintball. It is very important that the players feel like the staff is taking care of them and helping them to enjoy the paintball experience. The refs need to be loud when they see someone eliminated and tell the other team to not shoot the eliminated player. Make sure you tell the player to put their barrel blocking device on and to raise their gun over their head and walk to the sidelines. All the time yelling “Do not shoot this player they are eliminated”. Refs need to make sure that they do not allow anyone to get over shot and if the player is timid, tell them where the opposition is so they have the chance to engage without being scared. If the opposition is getting close ask the player if they want to call themselves out.
After the game:
Walk the whole group back together and talk to them about their experience. Ask if anyone has gun problems and address them. Once back to the staging area, tell them to start filling their hoppers and pods while refs are cleaning goggles. Tell them how good they played and that the shot or move that they made was a good one. If you had someone shoot a lot of paint make sure that they get new air fills. The field does not make money if the player is not shooting paintballs!!!! You should have Co2 tanks ready to go so all you do is an exchange. Have the refs remove the tanks from the players guns and have the refs trained to look at the valve and make sure that the valve is moving with the tank removal. Have refs check dates on tanks before filling an outdated tank. Refs should be picking up trash and telling players to use the trash cans while in staging area. Have expiration dates posted by fill station for players to see. Flip your games within 5-10 minutes to give them the best experience possible and to shoot the most amount of paint!
At the end of the day:
It is the refs responsibility to make sure all the rental equipment is turned in and does not walk off. It is the refs responsibility to bring in the chrono and let the air out of the bunkers or bring in anything that needs to be secured. A check list is important for the end of day tasks. Refs should make sure that the equipment is cleaned every day, lens are removed from masks and washed and mask sanitized, guns cleaned and oiled, packs and vests washed so that your equipment is ready for play the next day. Refs should police area for trash. A final check to make sure all is locked up before they leave for the day and that they know when to come in the next day.
By following these simple guidelines you can make sure you have a safer field, your customers have a better time and will return to bring you more business year after year.