The american development Model provides age-appropriate guidelines and curriculum to hockey associations across America to help more kids play, love and excel in hockey.
And, if it is good for the game, it should be good for officials, as well.
One commonly asked question is where do the officials fit into the ADM, especially in the younger age groups where newer officials often gained valuable experience?
The answer is that officials can play an integral role, and with the proper guidance can grow and prosper within the ADM.
USA Hockey has designed a Cross-Ice Officiating Guide that provides valuable information to both local officials’ groups and youth hockey organizations to best work together for a common goal – creating a positive environment for all participants to enjoy the game of hockey.
This guide is not a mandate to use officials during cross-ice games played through the Red, White and Blue Hockey Program. Ultimately, it is still up to the youth hockey organization and the individual coach to do what he or she feels is best for the program within the ADM framework. Some programs employ officials to work their 8 & Under cross-ice games while others prefer to use coaches as ‘refs’. Either is acceptable.
For those associations that want to work with local officials to invest in the future of officiating in their respective area, this guide will provide them with the information and resources to do so.
For the officials, the benefits of working cross-ice games are numerous, and will play a critical role in the future development of younger officials. Having a younger official skate during the designated game days provides a valuable opportunity for these newer officials to put on their sweater, pick up their whistle and learn some basics of officiating in a positive atmosphere.
They will drop some pucks, work on their skating skills, learn to position themselves out of the way of play while establishing the best possible view of the play and make some minor decisions (goals, etc.) that will give them confidence and experience they can’t get at a seminar.
This format also provides an excellent opportunity for a more experienced official to mentor the new official and assist them in honing their skills while either skating with them on the ice or watching from the stands and talking after the game. Most importantly, the official will have fun while preparing to advance to full-ice games with more confidence and better skills.
On the player side of things, having an official on the ice for the cross-ice game will give the feel to both the players and the parents that a real game is taking place. The coaches will be able to focus on working with the players to promote skills and having fun. It is also an investment in the future as the officials who participate in this environment will be better equipped to have success down the road at higher levels.
The purpose of the official on the ice is not to create more stoppages or structure, but instead to provide them with an opportunity to hone some positioning and skating skills.
The flexibility as to the logistics of the game still exists, and it is imperative that the coaches outline the desired protocol with the officials prior to the game or season. The intent is for the officials to go with the flow in this regard.
The long-term results of the ADM will also provide a positive environment for the officials. When the game is played with more skill, the chances are very good that the players will do so within the rules and create a faster paced and more competitive game. At the younger levels, the players will be more evenly matched, but the focus on the game will not be winning or losing, but instead on skill development and having fun. Doing so will result in a better game that is also more enjoyable for the official.
Officials who are having fun will be more apt to stay involved in the game, gaining valuable experience and ultimately performing at a higher level.