A Little bit about Refereeing Ice Hockey

Adam Rothstein
3 min readJan 3, 2023


Hockey referees

When it comes to hockey, we often forget some important pieces. Those pieces are both the referees and linesmen. If there aren’t any referees on the ice, there is no one to verify who scored the goals, verify the assists, and when to call penalties. Referees keep the game fair and balanced. They are also there to keep players safe.

Before the game begins, referees will warm up by skating and talking with the other linesmen and referees. Referees will start a game by dropping the puck down at the center circle of the ice. Once the face-off begins, the referee will skate backward out of the center face-off circle. From there, the referee will skate the length of the ice to make sure there are no penalties and that the flow of the game is good.

Referees will skate for most of the game. However, they aren’t skating the entire time. Referees are also not always skating their hearts out. Sometimes they will be stationary on the goal lines to verify if a puck crossed the goal line completely. They can also be on the walls during play. Referees will often be there to give some space to the players while being able to view the play as it’s happening.

In hockey, you will hear many whistles to signal a stoppage of play. Usually, when a whistle is blown there is a penalty, goalie saves, or a puck that goes out of play. Whistles can also be blown if a player is injured.

Getting the call right is one hard thing to do. Just like in other sports, you may make the wrong call that could make the fans, coaches, and players angry at you. Just like playing the game, people make mistakes. You have to move on and learn what you did wrong.

When dealing with fans, blocking out distractions can be difficult when you first begin. Many hockey referees quit after one to two years. Being able to stay mentally strong is important. Sometimes parents will get rowdy and come on the ice and fight referees. Now, this is extremely rare because there is glass separating the rink from the stands. If a parent/fan does climb the glass and attacks any player, referee, or coach that parent/fan will be likely arrested. Many things can go wrong when you are a referee. It shouldn’t discourage you. There are many bad situations you will be in life. Regardless of whether or not you become a ref. Stay strong, and keep your head up.

If you love hockey and want to make a little money on the side, becoming a ref or linesman could be excellent for you. The first step to becoming a referee is mastering your skating. If you’ve played hockey for a significant time, you have already mastered one of the hardest things about being a ref. The next thing you must learn is hand signals. Hand signals can get confusing. For example, hand pass and match hand signals have the same motion. You can remember the difference if you practice each one of them. Registration can take a while.

Below is a link to a Google doc that will help you get started. Please be sure to share this with anyone you know who has any interest in becoming a hockey referee.

The Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QP4oBoAOHQ_kGD7SEJywnltpWmvJ0gEuK1SAYU_wD5g/edit

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