The Value of a Good Appearance
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An asset to consider in your growth as an official is your appearance and comportment. Remember that being an official, you need to carry yourself professionally before, during, and after the game.
Appearance on the ice is important. Although you might not hear this from many supervisors, the reality is that looks on the ice can be a big part of the battle. An official who has dirty laces, a jersey that doesn’t fit well, bad fitting pants, who leans against the boards or seems disinterested doesn’t make a good impression on the players and coaches.
The immediate thought is that since this official doesn’t dress professionally, we are not in for a professional performance. Looking the part by choosing the right equipment, keeping your gear clean, choosing a nice-looking visor and helmet combination, goes a long way in setting the right tone with the coaches and players. As cool as it might seem to be an official rocking a Jofa helmet with a half-cage visor, it’s not great in giving a good impression to the players and coaches. Be sure to take care to get the proper equipment and appear professional on the ice.
Depending on the level of hockey you are officiating at the time you are reading this, you might be required to dress-up for your games. Sometimes the requirements can be relaxed, with something even as simple as wearing a collared shirt. Regardless of what level you are doing, be sure to dress well for the game, and arrive well before the start of the game. Again, a big part of this is the professionalism it conveys to the coaches and players. Arriving well dressed and with lots of time to prepare looks a lot better than running in 10 minutes before the game, with a ball cap and your shirt hanging out of your pants.
On the ice, be friendly, be polite, and don’t be arrogant. Some of the same skills you would use if you were talking to a police officer or school teacher. I remember watching seeing a mic’d up video when I was just starting out, and the one thing that stood out to me was the amount of times I heard ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’. While you need to understand when you need to speak-up or be more authoritative, using these simple tools have allowed me to have a much better handle on dealing with players. As a linesman conducting a face-off, instead of needing to shout at players to move back, a simple, “Hey – red – can you move back a bit please – thank you” can go a long way. In this way you are working with the players in a very respectful fashion, which is often reciprocated.
After the game, be sure to leave in a respectful fashion, clean the room up after yourselves, and wear your clothes in a professional manner. Even if the game was heated or intense, do not carry that intensity with you as you leave. We’ve all had to walk past a group of upset coaches or parents after a game, even if someone says something, stay polite and walk out in a calm fashion.