Reffing: Harder Than You Think

Olly Wilkinson 

Getting down to the nitty gritty, reffing is a difficult job. We don't often get thanked for what we do but to be completely honest, I don't ref the sport for the thanks of the players, other officials, NSOs or the crowd. I do it because I love the sport and even though me and my fellow officials (skating or non) have sunk tons of money into travelling and equipment, we don't care, we are here because we all actually want to be. 

I think sometimes players and bench staff forget that we are human. Yes refs will make mistakes it's in our human nature but it's how we address those mistakes that have been made. I for one will always own up and admit when I have made a mistake. I actively encourage other refs around me when they make a mistake tell me or whoever your head official is and it can be sorted because there is nothing worse than a ref who won't admit when a error has been made. My advice to the coaches is; if you come into the middle of the track shouting and screaming you are less likely to get what you want but if you remain calm then we will listen to what you have to say and take the correct action.

A handy piece of advice for dealing with angry/screaming bench coaches was given to me by a ref years ago. If they do come in screaming and shouting, then they will receive a warning, if they do it again then their bench coaching privileges will be removed and if they want to speak to the head ref then they will need to put their hand up and the head ref will come over and speak to you. Carry on and you could be removed from the bout. It's simple but very effective and I've used it on a number of occasions to good effect and will still use it when or if I head ref again. 
A good bench coach is calm bench coach. Luckily though I haven't had to deal with many angry ones.

I think one the biggest bug bares for us refs, are the players who attempt to ref from the track. I'm looking at both men and women players for this. If we can't see the penalty clearly then we cannot call it, if you think sticking your hands up in the air calling for a cut track is going to make me call it when I can't see it then your very much mistaken. 

On the good striped side of things.

I myself pride myself on knowing the rules. There is no such thing as a stupid question, the only stupid question is the one that isn't asked, as I'm pretty sure someone else will be thinking the same thing. 
Having already read the new rules that are coming out in March 2014 I can only say that it will only make the sport better. There are a lot of new pieces of information that we need to go through and digest pretty quickly as teams will want to start using the new rules as soon as they possibly can, to keep up with regulation and sanctioned bout play. So us refs need to be on the ball a hell of a lot quicker to make sure these games or bouts are officiated to the highest degree. 
We constantly study the rules and await updates. We often have arguments/discussions on forums as to rulings and scenarios but that can only be a good thing. We care enough to make sure the players get the best reffing that they deserve and that us refs throughout the UK, Europe and the rest of the world are all singing from the same hymn sheet. So no matter where you go in the world the standard of officiating will be top notch.

We love this sport as much as the next person, if not more. Most of us are here because we want this sport to be the biggest and best it can be.
I am extremely excited about the year that follows, I've finally donned the stripes again and will be officiating as much as I possibly can. I'm looking toward to working with old refs from the past and new refs that have come along within the last year that I haven't had an opportunity to work with. I truly believe some of the best officials in the world are Reffing within the UK and Europe right now. The great thing is, we are all going in the right derby direction (see what I did there) and officiating in the UK and Europe is so strong right now, let's hope it stays that way.

Thank you for reading

Olly Wilkinson
(Dr. D Zaster)

Photo credits: Daz Wilson

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