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Let's Talk About: On-Court Communications

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

We have seen the highest rate of proliferation of technology in the last 40 years than in the entirety of all of human history. It goes without saying that on-court communications have followed suit. Although the days of communicating to coaches, players, spectators, and the officiating team by using hand and arm signals will never stop, on-court communications (OCC) are quickly bridging the gap. Bridging the gap allows for faster and more accurate communication between referees and even the scorer's table. (photo courtesy of

There are several units on the market that meet what could be seen as "minimum requirements" for use on the volleyball court. This isn't designed to be a buyer's guys, but if you are in the market for your own OCC system here are a couple things to consider:

Full-duplex vs half-duplex
Photo courtesy of

Here is the hard and fast: half-duplex radios work on the principle of push-to-talk. You can listen or speak, but you can't do both at the same time.

Full-duplex work like a telephone: it's an open line of communication. You can listen AND speak at the same time.

Because of the nature of officiating, the preference predominantly leans towards full-duplex systems. Officials unequivocally use hand and arm signals as a primary mode to communicate. Full-duplex systems allow for the capability of true hands free verbal communication between users.

Be sure you read up on the units you are researching. Some systems support full-duplex, and some systems support full-duplex with the ability to mute and unmute the microphones, and some systems have voice recording capability.

Number of users

It goes without saying that all systems support multiple users. The key thing to consider here is how many users would you like to support? But generally, if you are sticking to volleyball you shouldn't need to support more than 3 or 4 users. That would be R1, R2, and the scorer's table if you choose. The 4th one can be for an observer, evaluator, or rater in order to enhance your officiating skills. Some mesh systems can support up to 8 users or more.


I see this as an investment. Just like almost every other expenditure in life. How will this affect my ability to perform my duties? What is the propensity for my fellow officials to use the system? What are the capabilities I would want vs cost and availability? What is the longevity of the equipment? Among other things. If you have done even just a little bit of research you know these systems are not cheap (be weary of cheap options or systems that advertise being "referee radios" that turn out to be half-duplex, line-of-sight, or other inappropriate system). Units can be purchased separately or in packs.


If you're anything like me, you will consider many different systems before pulling the tigger. Check out these brands:

I'm partial to purpose-built products to fit my needs. If you only do one thing, chances are you do it well. I don't go to Waffle House and order pancakes. My short list consisted of Vokkero, Axiwi, Yapalong, and EJEAS.


I decided on the EJEAS F6. It supports up to 6 users in a full duplex mesh format with open mic. This particular model comes with mic mute capabilities as well (some models don't).

It supports 5 channels and has a stated range of over 400 meters (up to 800m). And with an IP67 rating (nerd speak for durability and ruggedness), I am not worried about it getting wet or dirty. It also has noise cancelling, which helps with all the whistle blasts.

left side, in-ear earpiece

It fits very well, is lightweight, and has very good audio. The wire is long enough to place the unit on the small of the back and run the wire up my back with enough slack to turn my head to either side.

belt clip

I think OCC is a great tool to put in the tool belt for officials to use. It enhances on-court communication between officials and the table. There is no doubt that it will help officials make calls more accurately and consistently due to being able to speak with fellow officials. Not to mention it will assist in keeping the tempo and flow of the match at a higher pace by reducing dead ball time for a conference between officials.

front view

arm band

I just got these units, and I have not field tested them yet, but I have used them around the house and they are pretty awesome. You are more than welcome to try these out if you are thinking about getting a set for yourself. You can also find a list of TASO "approved" units HERE. Although the list exists, it is not all inclusive (as even the list states) and EJEAS is not on it. However, these are purpose built units used mainly by socc... er... foooootball referees. I am confident they will be an asset. What questions do you have? Let me know!

See you on the court,

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