Mentorship and Progressing in Officiating

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Mentorship and Progressing in Officiating

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Seeing as Brandon and Craig had a great discussion about mentorship, I thought I would pull out this article I wrote a few months back on the same subject:

I have often heard it said: “Those who can do, and those who can’t teach”. I guess that after a few years of officiating I might have learned a few things to pass along to other referees, and I got the chance to experience it for myself when our association started a mentorship program. It was basically a series of on-ice, and off-ice teaching opportunities that was lead by one of our more experienced officials.

It couldn’t have come at a better in my refereeing career. I was starting to get bored during games, and the little games I was told to play to stay in the game weren’t interesting anymore. That all changed when I started helping out first year and younger referees. I was back into the game because I wanted to be a good teacher. I was paying attention to details in my positioning, my face off procedure, my penalty selection, you name it.

I also started to look at the refs and linesmen that I considered, and were generally thought of as, “good” to “very good”. I tried to see where they would be on the ice, what they were looking at, and I started to ask questions about my own refereeing. I was looking for pointers, feedback and constructive criticism. Now, armed with all of these observations, I felt more confident with what I could tell the younger officials.

Before the game

When instructing the “mentees”, I found it helpful to talk to them before a game to tell them what it is that I was expecting of them. That way when they would be out there, they would know what would be of importance for their level of officiating. Essentials for younger officials, from what I was hearing, were: loud whistling to communicate clearly, positioning during the game and stoppages in play, looking professional, and basic rule knowledge. Anything more than that I would make note of and encourage or suggest alternatives in procedure.

During the game

From the pre-game sportsmanship handshakes and banter with the coaching teams and time-keeper(s), to the end of the game, I was told to take notes and so I did. I would write out a chart that would include all of the things essential for a supervision and would adapt it for a mentoring lesson.

In our association we had an “On Ice Buddy” system which basically meant that one of the mentor’s would be on the ice shadowing the newer recruits and giving them pointers as they are on the ice. The direct feedback made the learning much faster and more comprehensive.

As the new referees became more confident in their abilities, the mentors would back away only to add constructive criticism where its was really needed.

After the game

Once everything was done, and as the zamboni was doing its rounds, we would all head back to the locker room to debrief about the game. The highs and the lows were mentioned, but more importantly we highlighted what was good and what needed improvement. Then we’d either head back on the ice to apply what was taught and learned to the following game, or back home to think about it.

Some people use different methods to teaching, and we will surely see more as we gather more blog posts. If you have any suggestions, tips and/or tricks for younger officials, we’d love to hear them! 

Thank you,

Daniel of Team Stripes