What is an Official? USA Hockey and IHOA’s Viewpoint

By Dave Zednik, IHOA Vice President



Officials Are Teachers

The official’s role is not only to interpret and apply the rules during a game, but also to teach. Players, coaches, parents and spectators all rely on the official to properly apply the rules and learn from the official’s actions. 

Officials as Game Managers

Officiating at intermediate and higher levels (pee wee through midget), an official’s role includes both a “teacher” and also that of a “game manager.” A “game manager” will use judgment to carefully manage the game in a safe and fair environment. In a game management situation, the official analyzes the entire picture prior to drawing a conclusion as to whether an infraction has occurred or should be penalized. Good judgment will not hide the lack of knowledge of the rules. A successful official must have a complete and thorough understanding of the playing rules, their interpretations and their intent. Of course, at all levels there are calls that require little judgment. We refer to these as “black and white” infractions.

For example, a routine off-side or icing requires no judgment, the result is an “either/or” situation. Another example of a black and white infraction would include a high stick where obvious contact is made with the opponent’s head. In these situations, the official will have no hesitation or question as to the proper call. 


A common theme among players, coaches and spectators is the need for more consistency among officials. Consistency can be defined as the ability to make the same judgment call in the same situations. This concept can be extremely difficult to accomplish. Even though the rules are considered black and white, each individual may interpret and apply the rules to different situations somewhat differently. This is a natural result of human nature, and as hard as we may try to provide the resources (playing rule interpretations, videos, etc.) to improve the consistency among all officials, we may never be able to attain the level of consistency expected.

Registration began August 1st. Do you have the “right stuff” to be an official? Click HERE for Seminar Schedule.

Go to www.ihoa.com to become a member of the officiating team.


Categories: Officials

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