As a hockey fan, you’ll likely know that the officials in charge of the game are referred to as the “refs.” They’re the men and women in white who control the pace and tempo of the game by making calls and issuing penalties as the play ensues. But did you know that it’s not always easy to become a hockey referee? You’ll have to put in the effort to prove yourself worthy, and thankfully, the NHL has you covered. Here are the steps you need to take to become an official NHL referee.
Step 1: Know The Game
Before you can graduate to the next step, you have to prove to the NHL that you truly know how to officiate hockey. The best way to do this is by gaining experience by participating in leagues or teams. If you’re a fan of the game, learn how to officiate pickleball or tennis, or take part in a touch football league where you can learn the subtle differences between the rules of football and hockey. In each case, you’ll have the opportunity to refine your skills and gain experience that will help you to become an NHL official.
Step 2: Be Selective
After you’ve participated in some form of hockey forays, the NHL will take you on as a graduate and give you an opportunity to further perfect your skills. To do this, you’ll have to show that you’re competent and capable of handling higher levels of play. For this, the officials select from a small number of candidates those who prove themselves to be proficient in calling various types of hockey games. The best way to gain experience is by volunteering to work games in smaller leagues or community centers where you can improve your craft and gain the attention of the NHL’s regional office in North America. After three years, you’ll have the opportunity to progress to the next step of your career and be considered for the highest level of hockey officiating jobs.
Step 3: Get Your Pro Licence
In order to be appointed and certified as a professional hockey official, you’ll have to pass a standardized test that covers everything from the rules of the game to sports science. As a prospective official, you’ll have to show that you’re equipped to handle the physicality of the sport as well as the pressure that comes with officiating high-profile games. To prepare, you can read up on the rules and study with an expert. Once you’ve completed the test, you’ll have to wait a year before you can start working as an official. During this year, you’ll have to work one or two days a week in order to maintain your certification as a pro official.
Step 4: Become Expert In Tech
If you’re looking for a technical challenge, you can’t beat officiating a game involving technology. Especially today, as we live in a world where technology is ever-present and ever-evolving, officials have to keep up with the times by learning new things and keeping their skills sharp. The best way to do this is by participating in tournaments and using technologies like Hawk-Eye or Video Review to call plays and make rulings. By maintaining your knowledge in sports science and hockey, as well as learning how to use technology, you’ll ensure that you can continue to officiate games effectively as times change around you.
Step 5: Get Certified
Finally, once you’ve proven yourself to be a capable and certified official, you’ll be considered for NHL assignments. For this, you’ll have to undergo a psychological evaluation that the league’s doctors will conduct. After you’ve passed this test, the NHL will appoint you to a position in the Eastern or Western conference based on your geographical location. Once there, you’ll have to maintain regular visits to a sports psychologist in order to continue to progress in your career.
A Full-time Job!
If you’re looking to make a career out of officiating hockey, you’ll be doing the sport a great service by taking up the challenge. You’ll enjoy every step of the way as you work your way up to the top, and who knows – maybe one day, you’ll even get to work the big game. So go out there and make yourself known as one of hockey‘s great refs!