Officiating coaches get ready
by Joy Johnston|07 SEP 2019
IIHF Officiating Coaches as well as trainees came together at the annual meeting.
The annual meeting of the IIHF Officiating Coaches took place in Barcelona, Spain at the end of August. This brought together 27 IIHF Officiating Coaches, with 10 IIHF Trainee Officiating Coaches from around the world for a series of workshops and presentations over two days. 

This is a key meeting for the IIHF Officiating Coaches each year. It provides updates and valuable information to help them perform their role and to set the plan for the season.  

The meeting this year represented a new era for the IIHF officiating program for three reasons:
  • The old role title and role of the “Referee Supervisor” was replaced with the new role title and role of “Officiating Coaches”. 
  • 10 new IIHF Trainee Officiating Coaches were identified and introduced for the up-coming season to help widen the pool of Officiating Coaches for use in the future.
  • A new IT infrastructure was rolled out to support collaborative teamwork and communication across the IIHF Officiating Coaches team.
“The Annual Officiating Coaches Meeting provided an interesting program and great opportunities to exchange know-how and learn from each other. The Officiating Coaches play a vital role in the development of game officials, particularly those from developing countries, when mentoring them at the various IIHF events,” said IIHF Council Member and committee chairman Sergej Gontcharov.

“Their evaluations have an important impact on future assignments. The IIHF Officiating Committee depends on their professionalism. It is important to act according to the same standards and communicate closely and regularly, a point that will be considerably easier to manage with the on-going improvements in terms of IT solutions.”

Attendees received presentations from members of the IIHF staff, alongside IIHF Officiating Committee Members, and even heard from some of their colleagues in the room about officiating programs in their countries.

IIHF Technology Director Martin Zoellner and IIHF Technology Coordinator Marco Josuran led an interactive workshop with the Officiating Coaches setting out the new technology platform and ways of working with it. Stacey Livingston, IIHF Officiating Coach from USA said: “This is a huge step forward for the officiating coach team. To be provided with the technology and the tools to help us work collaboratively at tournaments will help make us more efficient as a team. This investment shows great trust and insight from the IIHF into how to support us in our roles. I’m excited by the opportunities this new technology will give us now and in the future, and grateful to the IIHF for providing us with this.”

IIHF Membership Development Manager Aku Nieminen led a workshop session on game official centered coaching and facilitated a discussion on what a quality coaching framework for officials would look like. Joy Johnston, IIHF Officiating Coach from Great Britain, said: “This session really allowed us to challenge ourselves in terms of how we coach and the techniques and skills we should be looking to develop as individuals. It was great to hear from Aku regarding the coaching tools which have been developed for the playing side, and this has now set the foundations for similar tools to be developed for the officiating program which is an exciting step for us.”

Whilst the first day focused on the tools and infrastructure systems and on the concept of coaching in the abstract, the second day challenged the attendees by getting into the detail of officiating and hockey IQ needed. In a climate where all sports have been grappling with achieving the right balance with the use of video reviews, IIHF Officiating Committee Member Kim Pedersen led a session on the plans for the Video Goal Judge Operations going forwards.  IIHF Officiating Manager Danny Kurmann said: “This was a key session for us this year, given some of the challenges the use of video review has presented for us over the last season. We now have clarity on the proposed use of video review and look forward to receiving further instruction following the Semi-Annual Congress in Rome.”

Former NHL official and current IIHF Officiating Coach Trainee Greg Kimmerly gave a presentation to his peers on his first impressions as an IIHF Officiating Coach and on his ideas for where the IIHF officiating program can develop. This was a great insight into how the IIHF can learn from other countries and from the NHL and adapt some of its existing processes to become even more efficient and effective.

Tomas Thorsbrink, IIHF Officiating Coach from Sweden, also spoke to his colleagues and shared some insights from the Swedish leagues. This presented some great ideas for the attendees to take away and think about in terms of developing officiating programs in their own countries.

Overall, the meeting can be described as a meaningful, interactive and engaging few days which brought together a group of like-minded individuals and further cemented them as a strong team with a clear goal for the season. It provided clear direction for the officiating program this year and established a very high bar for the program to start from and to continue to grow from going forwards.

IIHF Officiating Manager Danny Kurmann said: “I’m really pleased with how the meeting went. We have spent a lot of time in the IIHF office this summer planning the support tools and new approach for the officiating team. It was great to see all of this hard work pay off and for us to leave the meeting with a new sense of purpose for the officiating program and with a team of officiating coaches enthused and ready for this season.

“The meeting was a huge success, and this is not only down to the work we did in the summer, but also the work of many of the presenters and of the IIHF Officiating Committee in the background. I would like to thank them and our Chairman and Chairwoman for their continued support.”