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The Importance of Skating as an Official

By Dave Wedlake, Chair, Referees, 11/15/19, 3:15PM EST


Keeping up with the pace of play to not miss a call

Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa Photography

Officials who step onto the ice understand just how fast the game really is. Just as defenders need to be able to match the speed of the opposing forwards, it is even more important for officials to have the ability to keep up with the pace of play.

Having the best sightlines is crucial for any official. Being in position to make the correct call is at the core of officiating. You need to be able to keep up with the speed of the game. A referee may have good judgement but if they can’t stay with the play they won’t be able to officiate effectively.

When there is a turnover and quick change of direction is needed, referees need to be able to transition and follow the play down the ice. Skating gives officials the ability to properly call a goal or penalty that may result in a play emerging from transition. Don’t have the mindset of relying on your officiating partner to make the call!

Because skating is such an important skill, officiating is a great avenue for former players to stay active on the ice and still be a part of the game. They are able to keep up with the pace of the game and understand the nuances of the action. Former players also know what it’s like to be on the other side of the whistle and can therefore communicate with current players with a knowledge of their perspective.

Referees should have the same desire to improve in officiating as you would want to improve your skills as a player. Get as much ice time as possible and work hard to do your best every time. You can improve your skating with more reps and your ability should be related to the level of hockey you are working. Give the same effort whether you’re officiating an Atom or Midget game – good habits are built through consistency.

For those looking to move up in officiating, the ability to skate is one of the most important factors. Your skating needs to be up to par if you have a desire to work higher levels.

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