The Importance of Positioning and Sightlines as a Hockey Referee
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Demonstrating judgement and calling penalties is dependent on seeing the play properly. This is critical. Proper positioning is the only way to ensure that you get a clear sightline on any play that occurs. As is highlighted in this book, the NHL and other professional leagues are looking for athletic officials who will be able to keep up with the speed of the game, and not be caught out of position.
To get proper sightlines will require speed, hockey sense, and reading the play. In addition, with systems that involve two referees, especially the 4-man system, having awareness of covering your partner is equally as valuable.
Every effort should be made to see a play to develop, anticipate trouble areas, and have a great view of potential infractions. As referees we cannot guess on a play. Sure, sometimes we might get lucky and make the call, but overall guessing will lead to incorrect calls, and a lack of credibility from coaches and players.
A coach will accept a referee admitting he didn’t see a call, however, if you lie and guess on a call, that will be an extremely negative outcome. Make every effort to move your feet and get a great angle on whatever might be happening. In a 4-man system, you need to demonstrate the same hustle, but also you need to trust your partner’s judgement if he or she has a better sightline on a play.
If there is a questionable play that occurs, get together and talk, but above all else do not guess. The topic of teamwork will be addressed in more detail in a later chapter.
Proper sightlines and positioning are essential to making correct calls. In addition, it gives an official a solid case in the instance that a coach or player may dispute what occurred. If you are out of position and make a call, they may have a good argument, however if you positioned well and see a play clearly, it provides a greater deal of certainty on the part of a referee and is more difficult to dispute.