Tips from Ben Smith – Columbus

  1. Be on time and ready to work your game. 30min prior during the regular season, and 45min for tournaments.
  2. Most locker rooms are very small. Please keep your extra stuff in your bag and clothes on a hook or in your bag… keep your ‘footprint’ small. Remove snow from your skates prior to entering the locker room so there isn’t water everywhere. Clean up your trash and space before you leave
  3. Brush up on the rules with your partner before each game.
    a. Removing a helmet is a match in USA Hockey. Helmet comes off during an altercation is a game misconduct (penalties must be called for an altercation!)
    b. Direct shots on goal during a delayed offsite is an immediate whistle for intentional offside in USA Hockey, but not in OHSAA or ACHA.
    c. Call head contact and checking from behind when it happens. Know what it is and when to call it. Talk it over with your partner or linesmen if you want additional input.
  4. Many don’t get to work the 3 official system that often – so please review mechanics, know your job and execute.
    a. Linesman – who covers what line, what bench to stand in front of after a goal or to start a period? Communicate and cover for each other.
    b. Linesman – who escorts players to the penalty box, who drops the puck, who retrieves the puck?
    c. Referee – positioning off boards, field of vision, line change procedure.
    d. Referee – know your rink and which direction to face if the benches are on the opposite side from the scorers table.
    5. Ask the scorekeeper or tournament director about any specific rules for tournaments or playoffs.


  1. Be on your “A” game. Hustle, Hustle, Hustle the ENTIRE game
  2. Run a crisp quick line change – make yourself visible to the benches
  3. Watch behind the play and in front of the net as much as you can – “head on a swivel”
  4. Communicate with your teams – your team, off-ice officials, players and coaches


  1. Be on your “A” Game. Hustle, Hustle, Hustle
  2. No room for error on offside and icing!
  3. Be on the lines – no excuses for being behind play or an open blue line
  4. Cover for your referee on fast break and transition plays if needed
  5. Hustle to an altercation site after whistle blows
  6. Blow whistle and run face off procedure as soon as referee completes line change signal. Learn your referee’s manarisms and line change cadence
  7. Watch for stuff behind the play, puck out of play, high sticks, hand passes, too many players and penalties not in view of your referee
  8. Communicate with your teams – your team, players and coaches


Tips submitted by Tiphanie Crane

1 – Respect
re-spect ri-spekt:  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines respect as having “high or special regard”.  As an Ice Hockey official, we reference the rule book as a tool when faced with situations.  In this example, the dictionary is another reference tool when dealing with coaches, players and fellow officials.
Treat coaches and players in a courteous way – with “high and special regard”. If they ask you a reasonable question, answer them in a polite manner. If they get in your ear by saying, “Hey ref I want to ask you something,” and then start telling you off, respectfully interrupt and remind them of the reason for the discussion. Be firm, but relaxed.
Always show respect to your fellow officials. Never openly criticize another official especially to players, coaches and/or other officials.  If you want to discuss an official’s call or rule application, do so privately, away from others and directly to your fellow official, never behind their back.
Remember, have a “high and special regard” towards coaches, players and fellow officials in order to develop meaningful relationships on AND off the ice.  You will not only show that you have respect for others but you will also earn it from them as well.

2 – Proactive Officiating
In the world of officiating, one of the best habits to get into is “proactive officiating”.
Being proactive while you officiate is representing yourself in a way that produces and encourages fairness and demonstrates involvement that is constructive and of educational benefit for all participants no matter what the skill level.  Initiating change rather than reacting to events is the key to successful proactive officiating.

How to become a more proactive official:

  1. Know the situation – focus on recalling the situation.  What happened?  Who did it?  What was the outcome of the behavior?  Pretend you are a game announcer in your own mind.  Speak to yourself in your mind about what is going on in front of you (i.e. “red 33 has the puck, white 13 is coming up behind him, red 33 gets checked from behind” – throw your arm up!).
  2. Anticipate the question from the coach and know the answer in your mind before you speak.  Take the time to speak to your partner if needed.  Use “book language” when answering.
  3. Be concise.

3 – Preventative Officiating
A problem prevented is a problem solved. Talk to the players early about crease violations, use of the stick, etc.  Preventative officiating is not limited to verbiage. If necessary, penalize “marginal” cross checking early – don’t let things “slide” just because it wasn’t “that bad”.  Remember:  Standard of Play!  Setting the tone early in a game will help prevent a complete collapse later in the game.
Keep in mind, however, that there are limits. The amount of preventive officiating used can destroy as well as enhance the tempo of a game. This is the nebulous part of officiating. Each official must develop the ability to discern when he should prevent and when he should simply make the call. This ability to discriminate is one of the things that separates the great officials from the average ones.

4 – Using your voice
All officials in all sports exercise verbal skills.  Your voice can be a positive tool that helps you control a game. Appropriate and timely communication is paramount to game control.
Questions may or may not need to be answered.  Statements require no answer.  Realize that often players or coaches are simply venting their frustrations when confronting you.  Being “worked” by players or coaches is as much a part of officiating as making judgment calls.  To a point, let them talk, but don’t let them influence you by intimidation.  Under no circumstances should you fire back at a player or coach… silence can NOT be misquoted.

5 – Sign Language
As an official, a crisp signal and a strong whistle is our language.  This is how we communicate to others, including our partner.  The height of the bar in this domain is established by the referee through his decisions and outcomes in the context of the game. Soft calls can impact on the game, create player tension and bring unwanted attention to the referee for all the wrong reasons.  It can also impair your communication with your partner.

Your signals and your whistle should be an extension of YOU.  Your whistle is how you grab everyone’s attention – even your partners’ attention!  Your whistle is how you communicate that you want to say something.  A crisp, not rushed, and accurate signal is the key to telling everyone WHAT you want to say.  This is our sign language, make sure you know how to speak it!

6 – Location, Location, Location
In all aspects of play whether it be at the face off, doing lines, or positioning in the attacking the zone, a referee’s ability to read the play will have a major influence on the outcome of the game and determine his/her standing in the game. There is nothing better than being in the right place at the right time. Presence can be a great deterrent for negative actions and a credibility enhancer when and where the right decision is required.