Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

Evaluating Officials

I was wondering what different leagues around the US and Canada do to evaluate their referees. Where I coach I have never once been asked to evaluate an official after a game. I plan on bringing this up at the league meeting in two months and was hoping to get some feedback from my readers on how this is done in their leagues. I have a friend from Michigan who tells me that their league has a website that all coaches can access and leave an evaluation of a referee for each game he coaches. I’m certainly not looking to find a way to dismiss any official. I understand how important they are to teams being able to play games. I just think it’s odd that the two leagues I coach in don’t have a way for the coaches to evaluate a referee. So, let me know how it’s done where you are from. Any feedback would be much appreciated and hopefully help our leagues build a better system of evaluating the referees. Thanks for your help.


Filed under: General

13 Responses

  1. Art says:

    I was just wondering if anything ever came of this great idea. I have a lot of fun during games with the refs but I still think this is a great idea to help the Referee in Cheif. If me as a coach was always filling out a form that was negitive against the refs I would say then it would be time to fill our a form about me. Some times this would be a great tool and we all know why but as I said if a coach is always on the bad side of the ref then I think there is something wrong with the coach.

    You can ask that Shaun guy up the top (lol) we have fun during games and teach the players to respect them. He could also tell you I take more players out of a game sometimes then the ref if they cross the line.

    I still think this is a great idea..

    • Art;

      I tried to get the league to institute a policy where the coaches help evaluate the officials, but ran straight into a brick wall. I can only assume that the league is worried that too many officials would quit if they are judged harshly. It seems to me that making the officials better and more accountable would be something any league would want to do, but I guess I’m not in one of those leagues. I’ll continue to try but I don’t have high hopes.

  2. Shaun says:

    I am a referee in Nova Scotia, Canada. I am Also a Minor Hockey Referee in Chief. After reading the above comments i was pleased to see that some coaches would like to evaluate our officals.

    In Nova Scotia we have a very organized provincal hockey association. We also have a very strong group of referees that help support and develop the game of hockey. Part of how i am involved with referees is to teach and evaluate officials of all levels. I have somewhere about 160 officials in my area from ages 14 to 60. In order to evealuate all of these people is a task that is hard to do. I work with many of the highest level referees in my area and give them the tools to help develop officials. With that being said her is how we do things. As officials we dont get time to practice like player so i hold on-ice sessions for my officials to help aid in their development.

    A referee in cheif or zone coordinator goes to the rink to tell the officials he is there before the game starts. He is watching for different things such as the officials ability to us rule knowledge on the ice (which is very appernet most times). We look for postioning, Just like players,referees have postions aswell along with following the play. Referees are graded on communication aswell and signals. Just to name a few.

    After this is done the supervisor then goes the the officials room at the end of the game for a debrief. He should give the offical at least three things he did well and three things he needs to improve on.

    The supervisor then should go home and put his report on the Hockey Canada Elearning site. Where the officials involved get an email of the report and it is saved on the database. Supervisors have access to this database to pull up any report that was filed on the officials in there area.

    I have lots of conversations with coaches and parents and recieve a lot complains toward officials. It is hard to decide what is worth looking into when you have emotions of the complaintant involved in the complaint. Many times things boil down to a “He said She Said” incident. So it can be very difficult to figure out who is in the wrong.

    • Art says:

      Shaun I knew I sent this site to the right guy. Thanks for taking the time to add the comment. I have to be nice to him guys he asigns the Refs for my games…lol

      One thing with me I do disagree with the Refs sometimes but I also have a lot of fun with them during games some of them are guys that I coached. As I said to one that was doing the lines in the game one day, how are you going to call an offside because when he played for us he didn’t no where the blue line was.

      I love the looks I get when the Ref calls a penality against us and I clap and say good call and I am not trying to be funny with the comment. If the make a bad call we seem to have no problem saying something but I have no problem with saying it is a good call when it is even if it is against us. I clap when a player makes a nice play on the other team or the their goalie makes a good save and by doing it with the Refs it shows the players on my team respect for all involved within the game.

      Thanks Shaun

  3. Tim says:

    Oddly enough, I stumbled across this on the USA Hockey website:

    I don’t know who is going to have access to this once it’s up and running and I haven’t found anything for Hockey Canada, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

  4. Tim, thanks for the feedback, obviously you fall on the side of the officials. The reality is that the referee-in-chief in most cases is just a referee charged with keeping the peace. I have spoken with numerous coaches who say they have brought their case to the referee-in-chief and it has gone nowhere after that. I agree that a coach giving an evaluation has to be taken with some amount of skepticism, but don’t you think that if the same official was consistently given poor reviews by different coaches it would start to point to a trend that the official in question might not be up to par? I would never suggest that the coaches opinion is the final say, but the coaches are the one group that has the most interaction with the officials. I would say that I get the same official 10 times during my typical 80 game season and I doubt that he is evaluated by the organization more than once or twice. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have the coach at least be a part of that evaluation process?
    Thanks again for the feedback. I know there is no perfect way to evaluate an official, but feedback like this is what I am looking for to help our organization be the best we can be.

    • Tim says:

      I understand, and I can see how, at least with some coaches, that could be a useful tool to evaluate officials. I’ve just seen too many coaches stand on the bench and yell at me for blowing a call when their Mite falls down and there’s no one within 10 feet of him. I’ve certainly been on the other side, though, and understand why you feel the way you do, but how do you make sure that guy doesn’t adversely affect a referee??

      One other point to keep in mind, and it’s easily forgotten, the officials are out there developing just like your players are.

      • Tim. my thought is that in any system the person doing the evaluation has to identify themselves, (no anonymous entries). I understand how difficult it must be to officiate a game, especially at the younger ages. I know there can never be a perfect system, but I’m trying to gather ideas from other coaches and officials from around the country on a system that could be fair to both sides. Right now the feedback that I get from too many coaches is that the system is slanted toward the officials and anytime a coach makes a request to the referee-in-chief, the coach is thought of as a guy who just has a vendetta against a particular referee. Believe me I speak to a lot of coaches and referee’s and both have plenty to say about the other. This is an interesting topic for me and one I really hope I can find some middle ground to start working toward a solution that works for both the coaches and officials and even the organizations who would have to administer such a plan. Thanks again for your comments, they help me quite a bit.

      • Tim says:

        Here’s a thought… set up a system such that BOTH team’s coaches submit evaluations for the same game. Not necessarily jointly (although that would be interesting, eh?), but individually. If only one coach submits his evaluation then it’s dismissed or at least held with lower regard to attempt to remove bias from the system. If both coaches say the guy is terrible, that could be a sign.

      • Tim, that is a GREAT idea! That’s the type of thing I was looking for. I’m taking this idea to the board of directors of the organization.

  5. Tim says:

    First and foremost, whether people realize it or not, associations have evaluators that periodically observe games for the sole purpose of evaluating the officials. Additionally, officials generally debrief games and critique each other.

    If a coach wanted to evaluate an official, I’d say the best bet would be to contact the association’s Referee in Chief.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most associations don’t have a system in place for coaches to provide immediate feedback regarding officials for the simple reason that most of the feedback would be negative and probably unfounded. This would create a nightmare for the officials as they would then be forced to either evaluate their officials on a more regular basis (which sounds great until you consider the man-power involved and the potential cost increase to the hockey associations) or they ignore the flagrant feedback from coaches and are accused of doing just that.

    Most officials would probably welcome constructive criticism/input, but in reality wouldn’t receive it – for one, as I mentioned, most of it would probably be unwarranted criticism based on emotions from the coach. Two, most coaches, while intimately familiar with the game, lack the perspective to truly critique the performance of an on-ice official. I say that not as a slam to coaches- but as a coach, player, and official I can assure you that it is a completely different game when you’ve got the stripes on. Obviously, something truly egregious will be clear to anyone, and as mentioned before, feedback should be given to the Referee in Chief.

    Just don’t be shy to tell the Referee in Chief when you have an official that does a good job as well! 😀

  6. Art says:

    I came accross a form on a hockey site that did just this and the coach could fill in the form online. I can’t seem to find it now but would love to send it to our Assoc. It sounds like a great idea and if a coach was tearing the Refs a part after every game we would then learn something about that coach.

    I sent the link to your blog along to the Referee in Chief of our Assoc. and maybe he will let you know how things ar done here.


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