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Director certification

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This page describes the director certification process for NASPA members who want to become certified as tournament coordinators, tournament directors and club directors. If you were an NSA-certified director, please look instead at the grandfathering section of the Directors page.

The Tournament Committee and Club Committee set the certification criteria and oversee the certification process.

Benefits of Certification

As a certified NASPA Tournament Coordinator you will be able to apply to the Tournament Committee to have a tournament sanctioned in your own name, but remain under apprentice restrictions when directing a club or tournament.

As a certified NASPA Director you will be able to:

  • operate a NASPA club
  • hold NASPA tournaments
  • join the NASPA director discussion group
  • access the director section of our online member services
  • attend director-only functions at the NASPA Championship

Certification process

There are several types of certification. To obtain any of them, you must be a member in good standing, and at least 18 years of age.

The easiest certification to obtain is that of an assistant director: someone who acts online on behalf of a director without full Internet access, such as a data inputter. If your club or tournament director asks you to be their assistant, ask them to contact the Tournament Committee, who will then certify you.

For any other type of certification, you must first take and pass the director’s test, as described below. When you do so, you are certified as an apprentice director, youth apprentice director, or young adult apprentice director, depending on your age.

You are then entitled to direct clubs and tournaments with some conditions, and under the supervision of a mentor director.

When your mentor determines that you are ready, the mentor should contact the Club Committee to upgrade your certification to tournament coordinator, club director or tournament/club director. A printed certificate will be issued to you, and if you attend the Director’s meeting at the NASC, it will be officially conferred upon you there.

If you are a tournament coordinator or club director, you may resume your apprenticeship if you wish to become fully certified as a tournament/club director.

Director's test

Test Scheduling:

The test can be taken in two ways:

  • By email: You should email the Club/Director committee to say that you want to take the test. It can be taken at your leisure, within a 90-day window, emailing back for grading and upon a passing grade, the prospective director will move to the next step. There is no fee to take the test the first time.
  • By postal mail: The mail-in test costs $10 USD. You can pay the fee online at the NASPA Store or mail the payment to NASPA. Contact the Club/Director committee with your intention to take the test by mail. The test will be sent to you by postal mail, and you can send the test back in the same way.

Test Taking and Grading:

  • Once the test has been sent, you have 90 days to take the test. If the test is not returned within that time frame, it will be considered as the first failed attempt.
  • If you fail the test the first time, you can contact the Club/Director committee for permission to retake the test at no charge.
  • If you fail the test a second time, you cannot retake the test for 30 days. You must then pay $25 USD for the test at that time and contact the Club/Director committee for permission to retake the test.


Apprentice age limitations:

  • Apprentices who are 18–20 can be apprentice club and tournament directors. The mentor is required to be physically present at the tournament site.
  • Apprentices who are 21+ can be apprentice club and tournament directors, with mentors encouraged to be at the tournament site, but if not, available by phone during the tournament.
  • All apprentices will serve an apprenticeship period. Specific other criteria for apprenticeship are being discussed.

Upon passing the test, the applicant is granted apprentice director certification, and can codirect tournaments and/or clubs under supervision of a mentor if the age restrictions allow. At the discretion of the mentor, this supervision may take place in person or by telephone. Mentors must be fully certified directors; applicants may suggest their own mentors, or may ask to be assigned one.

An apprentice may submit tournament details to the Tournament Committee himself, as long as the submission is copied to his mentor.

When an apprentice’s mentor feels that the apprentice is ready to direct tournaments alone, the mentor notifies NASPA, which grants applicant full director status. The mentor will refer to the following checklist in assessing the apprentice.

  • Has passed the Director Test.
  • Is approachable and has adequate people skills.
  • Presents a welcoming demeanor to newcomers.
  • Understands the basics of the Code of Conduct and its importance in a club setting.
  • Knows basic Scrabble rules: scoring, handling overdraws, holding, challenging, adjudicating.

If the apprentice satisfies all of the above conditions, the apprentice may be granted certification to operate as a tournament coordinator. Tournament coordinators can apply to the Tournament Committee to have a tournament sanctioned in their own names, but remain under apprentice restrictions when directing a club or tournament.

  • Knows how a club’s fee structure and pairing system should operate.
  • Knows how to find other rules in the rule book when necessary.
  • Is willing to learn more complex rules.
  • Is fair yet firm in maintaining club policies and handling disputes.

If the apprentice satisfies all of the above conditions, the apprentice may be granted certification to operate as a club director, but not a tournament director. If in addition the apprentice meets all of the following conditions, the apprentice may be granted full certification to operate as either a club director or a tournament director.

  • Understands what supplies are needed at a tournament.
  • Understands tournament player membership requirements.
  • Knows how to set up new memberships and renew old ones online.
  • Understands how RR, KOTH and Swiss pairings work.
  • Understands why, when and how to apply the Gibson Rule.
  • Understands basic tournament arithmetic: total wins = total losses, spreads normally sum to zero.
  • Understands the importance of submitting tournament results swiftly.
  • Understands the importance of submitting Incident Report forms swiftly.
  • Understands how NASPA’s participation fee works.
  • Must be able to handle disputes calmly and professionally
  • Must be willing to enforce the Code of Conduct whenever necessary to maintain order.
  • Must be well versed in common rule situations.
  • Must possess above average organizational and people skills and present a positive image of NASPA.
  • Must have a cool demeanor and not get rattled in difficult situations.