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How To Become A Ref in 8 Easy Steps


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Seminar season is upon us, which means referees, new and returning, are flocking to their local rinks to become certified for the upcoming season. If you’ve always wondered about the process to becoming a ref, then look no further. I am here to help. You will learn everything you need to know (or almost everything) right here with this handy list:

1. Commit to it. And by commit to it I mean go to, find the “Officials” page, and register with USA Hockey.

2. Once you’re registered for your appropriate referee level (there’s only 3) and have stopped wondering what kind of person willingly chooses to do a job in which everyone hates them most of the time, you should go find a seminar to attend. Every referee has to attend a seminar, every summer, to be certified for the upcoming season. There is an all-female one held in Ice Line (West Chester, PA) that I highly recommend. It’s much less crowded, it’s a little more personal, and it’s always a good idea to network. There aren’t many female officials (I can count the number of times I’ve worked with a girl on one hand) and it’s good to meet the ones that have been working at this for several years.

3. You will have to take a closed book test if you are going to be a level 2 or 3 official. Study up. There are a lot of rules and you will have to know all of them.

4. There is also an open book test you need to take. If you’re a level 1, it’s 50 questions; levels 2 and 3, 100 questions. The best way to go about taking this test is to print out all the questions and go through them one by one with your rulebook in hand (which they will send to you in the mail), before you go online and fill in all the answers. Take your time with this test, but get it done RIGHT AWAY. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Don’t put it off because before you know it it’ll be halfway through November and you won’t be getting any games at all because you decided to put off taking your open book test.

5. When all the nitty-gritty details have been taken care of and you’ve received your shiny new crest in the mail, the fun part begins. If you’re new, you need to purchase equipment and uniforms and whistles and a visor for your helmet. My go-to site is They’ll have everything you need. If you’re in a hurry and need something on the spot, your local hockey store should be able to supply you. Generally, going to Pure Hockey will not steer you wrong.

6. If you’re new, do not make the mistake that I did and just sit around and wait for your first game assignment. Get yourself out there. Once you’re certified, you’ll be given an access code for Game Officials, which is the website where you plan out your availability, what rinks you can work at, and accept or decline games. This website also has a list of the assignors for every rink. Look up who that is at the rinks you choose to work at and email them. Introduce yourself, tell them that you’re new and you’d like to get your feet wet and offer to do any mite and squirt games that they have. You will be getting up at the crack of dawn to do so. Get used to it. Also check to see if your rinks have tournaments. The thing that really got me started as a ref was doing a girls tournament. That was my first big batch of games and after that, they really started rolling in.

7. Set your availability. One of the best things about being a ref is getting to set your own schedule. You choose when you can work and when you want to take a weekend off here and there. There’s a section on Game Officials (aptly named “Availability”) where you can set your schedule for every month. I recommend doing at least three months at a time, because sometimes assignors give out games a few weeks in advance. Make sure your schedule is always up to date.

8. RE: game assignments. Try not to decline too many games. If you get one and you realized last minute that you forgot to change your availability and are legitimately busy, turn it down, but also email the assignor and apologize for it. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to find an official last minute to cover a game.


Websites To Check Out: (You won’t be able to log in unless you already have an account set up, but I included it just for reference.) (This is the district I work in, Atlantic.)

If you felt that my list was unhelpful or missing something, then you should click this:


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