Football Officiating Academy

Developing skilled football officials at the grass-roots level.

Football at all levels benefits from excellent officiating. Those who wear the stripes on gameday must be confident in their calls for the game to continue to thrive.

Football officials are experts in their craft and act as custodians of the sport. The best are able to take traits needed in officiating — decisiveness, leadership, conflict resolution and clear communication — and apply them to their lives and careers.

The NFL broadens the pool of skilled football officials nationwide through the Football Officiating Academy (FOA). The academy works to build the next generation of football officials, maintain a robust officiating pipeline into the league and enhance the overall perception and understanding of football officiating. At no cost to participants, the academy teaches football fundamentals — along with personal and professional skills that last a lifetime — and it puts the most promising individuals on the path to greater involvement in officiating. 

FOA is the base of the NFL’s officiating development pyramid. It advances the Officiating Department’s objectives: encouraging people to participate in officiating, identifying talented officials and honing their skills so they are ready to officiate at higher levels — including, for the best, in the NFL.


At FOA clinics, junior and high school athletes, former players and football fans study the game, practice making the tough calls, improve officiating skills and physical fitness, and learn lessons of leadership, accountability and teamwork.

FOA participants are trained by the best in the game — NFL scouts, former and current NFL officials and players, and other members of the Officiating Development Program.

FOA classes and on-field exercises cover four main areas of officiating: rules, mechanics, health and fitness, and character development. Participants review videos and study guides and run drills to absorb the rules, proper positioning and mechanics, the correct hand signals and more.

In addition to receiving football training, FOA participants learn character and life skills required of every official and essential to navigating through life, including clear communication, decisiveness, conflict resolution and time management. 

“We’re hoping to build a new generation of officials who are successful and continue the NFL’s legacy.” — Terell Canton, FOA program manager


FOA offers free programs for all levels of officials and fans:

  • Full program: A one-day officiating workshop of basic skill development by classroom instruction and on-field drills.
  • Clinics: Three- to four-hour clinics geared for football clubs, military academies and Women Officiating Now groups that introduce officiating mechanics and game rules.
  • Officiating overviews: One-hour panel-style discussions held at regional combines, PREP 100 games and High School Player Development events that provide basic information on officiating and raise awareness of the profession.
  • Fan engagement: A FOA officiating roadshow to educate fans, former youth athletes and others about NFL officiating programs. The interactive “You Make the Call” booth lets fans “step under the hood” as officials and see if they can make the correct call. 

The NFL's Football Officiating Academy in Carson, California.

FOA is already making important contributions to officiating development. Since the program began in 2010, 160 graduates have officiated in youth and high school leagues. FOA alumni have joined officiating crews in major college football conferences, including the Big 12, Southwestern Athletic Conference and Southern Athletic Association. Elite FOA alums — roughly 10 percent each year — are tracked and developed by the NFL’s Officiating Department and are one step closer to officiating an NFL game.

FOA programs are attracting widespread interest. Participation increased by 40 percent from 2012 to 2013 and continues to grow today. 


The NFL's Football Officiating Academy in Brooklyn, New York.