I have sat through the entry level referee clinics several times now and it has seldom been taught by the same guy twice. I do so to give the new referees a chance to meet their assignor and to keep myself in the loop on how they are being taught this year.
One year the instructor said that all balls should be checked by a gauge before the game. This he said was due to differences in construction, ambient temperature, altitude, etc…. The next sighted a ‘rule of thumb’ where you simply push in with two thumbs to get a feel for whether the ball is tight enough. I happen to side with the first of the two, especially knowing the I have some referees that could barely push a ball in at 6 lbs. and others that work in a packing house by day and could easily push in a ball at 18 lbs.
Here in lies my problem. I have a gauge and a back up (as well as one that is on an cordless electric pump that I keep in my bag). All 3 read the balls differently to one degree or another. How do I determine which is right and which one(s) I should throw away?
USSF answer (November 24, 2009):
Different instructors use different methods to make their points. As long as the referee learns that he or she must apply the requirements of Law 2, the Federation and the Law are satisfied.
As to how to judge the suitability of the ball, that is left to the discretion of the referee, based on what is suitable for this particular game.