The Strength to Make the Right Call

Blog Posts, Canada, Community, Hockey, Hockey referee, How To, Ice Hockey, Introduction, Officiating, Ottawa, Podcast, Procedure, Referee, Refereeing -

The Strength to Make the Right Call

Want to be learn from professional officials? Check out for online courses taught by top instructors. 

Referees have to think about a lot of things when they are on the ice. The number of players, where the puck is, are just 2 of the hundreds of other things that are going on at any given time on the ice.The teams of referees and linesmen are trying to take as many of them in at one as possible to keep the game fair, balanced and safe.

My proudest moments as a referee are when I was 100% certain that I made the right call. It definitely didn’t happen as often as I would have liked, but as you can read below, there’s a reason for that.

Getting a consistent game like that is hard, and often it is down right intimidating to do so. You know who’s winning, who got a penalty last, who you’ve let get away with one too many things, and you know where you’ve made a mistake that could drastically change the game for either of the team. All of these things become luggage throughout a game or a series of games for officials who do more than one game in a row, or a day.

There’s a saying that goes “Leave work at work”. It’s easy when there’s a commute or distractions at home to get rid of the negative baggage accumulated throughout the work day. However, when it comes to a job where there are so many things going on at once at such a high speed that the negative baggage piles up quickly, and there’s no breathing room to get rid of it at times.

It’s that baggage, and a mix of low self esteem, or low mood on any given day that can cripple a referee’s ability to be assertive, in control and confident in his decision making. That’s when it becomes the most difficult to make those right, yet oh so difficult calls. The calls on the opposite spectrum of tripping someone by  getting a stick caught in the hole under the skate boot above the blade. There are the calls like the dreaded Checking from Behind, or match penalty that kick a player out, could suspend them, and are very serious. Especially considering the extent of the injury that could be incurred. 

They are very tough calls to make, and are the ones I was always scared of making.

That’s why I didn’t get to go referee higher levels. I was fully capable, but that part of the rules confused me for some reason. I just couldn’t get it, and I was intimidated by the consequence of the punishment on the team. Not so much the player, because boneheaded actions deserve their consequence, but really the team. I had a tough time accepting that the whole team had to be punished because of one person’s stupidity.

In hindsight I should have spent more time reading the rule book, rather than assuming I knew the rules, or thinking that what I knew was good enough. In hindsight I should have also had a little more confidence in myself without verging on arrogance when it came to refereeing hockey.

Although refereeing did give me confidence throughout the years, I still had trouble making the right tough calls that could make or break a game for any team. In my view that is one of the major things that kept this average referee from being a great one!

That is one of the reasons we came up with the idea for this community, I knew that we had to include a “Rule Book” component. So we created our social media posts “Whistle Wednesdays” that highlight one rule from the Hockey Canada rule book a week. You can find these by following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook, and any other form of social media we all share.

Refereeing is fun. You get to skate around, blow a whistle, see players get progressively better throughout their season, and it’s even more fun when you know the rules.

So keep reading, and keep whistling!

Thank you,

Team Stripes