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Officials’ Corner: Tips on Avoiding Burnout

By Eugene Binda, 02/12/18, 12:00AM EST


BOSTON, MA -- As the officiating pool continues to nosedive and there are more games being played, there is an enormous amount of assignors and fewer officials who work for them.

Assignors are asking for more of the officials’ time. Combine that with work and family life and it can become very stressful and burnout starts to set in.

It’s that time of year where most leagues are heading into the second half of the season and each game has a little more importance than the last, especially if it means making the playoffs.

As an official, you are already working three to four nights a week and have found little time to take a break to be with family and friends. Finally, you get a night at home and the phone rings. It’s the supervisor who has taken pretty good care of you all season. Another official has come down with the flu and needs you to fill in.

Knowing the supervisor has taken pretty good care of you, you agree to do the game, or if you are a new official, this is a good opportunity to get in good graces with the supervisor and possibly get a few more choice assignments.

However, always saying yes may not be good for you or the supervisor. Yes, the game is covered. On the other hand, what happens when you get to the arena and really do not want to be there? You start thinking about other things you need to get done, whether at work or at home.

For most, it is a time management problem, which if unchecked can result in a build-up of stress, which can cause serious problems during the game.

Along with the added pressure of an irate coach, fans, and disgruntled players and the constant pressure to make the right call, this can all lead to burnout.

What is burnout? It doesn’t happen overnight. Although it is hard to define in many ways, it is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that occurs when one’s expectations are out of sync with reality.

Burnout is a dreadful affliction that can cause physical and emotional problems. It turns positive stress (“good stress,” which stimulates motivation) into negative stress, which can easily damage physical and emotional health and possibly ruin a career and, in some cases, cost you your family.

Some of the key indicators of burnout include:

•Feeling tired over long periods of time.

•Increased anger towards participants.

•Blaming officiating partner(s) for troubles during games.

•Having trouble concentrating during the game.

•Too busy to call a friend or read a good book.

•No time to keep in shape.

•Loss of confidence on penalty selection.

•Emotionally drained after a game.

•Inability to relax.

•Little time to spend with your family.

What can be done? You may feel there are a lot of things beyond your control, such as travel, partners, coaches and fans. However, you can control how you deal with them. If you are stretched to the limit with work and family, ask the assignor if there is something closer or take the day off.

Some other tips:

•Stay in good physical condition, a good body has much to do with a good mind.

•Eat nutritious foods.

•Keep a positive outlook. Don’t let people get to you. Focus on doing well.

•Take a break during the season. Set at least one weekend away from the game. Take the family on a mini-vacation. Enjoy the company of friends who you haven’t seen since the season started

Finally, balance your family life, work, and officiating schedule. Do not take assignments on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or other important family functions.

The next time the supervisor calls you for a quick fill-in, ask yourself, “Am I mentally prepared?” If not, say no.

As an assignor for many leagues, I know I appreciate officials’ honesty when they say “No, I just have too much on my plate.” Sometimes saying no is the right call!
For those officials looking to advance or looking for additional training feel free to reach out to me. There is no charge for the training, just the commitment to getting better!

For those officials who are currently USA Registered or Members of National Ice Hockey Officials Association (NIHOA) who are interested in advancing to the junior and collegiate levels, we have several midget and junior tournaments throughout the season that will include secondary training on player safety, game management, and on ice mechanics for all officiating systems.

After successful completion of the classes, you will be added to the staffs at the junior level in the United States Premier Hockey League and the Eastern Hockey League. These are the training leagues for the NCAA Division 1 Atlantic Hockey Association.

I will also add you to the staffs of College Hockey America, a NCAA Division 1 women’s league, and the following men’s leagues: Division 2 Northeast-10 and, at the Division 3 level, the Northeast Hockey Conference and the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.

For those interested please contact me at Training is available all year long with classroom training at the Foxboro (Mass.) Sports Center and the Atlantic Hockey Office in Winthrop, Mass.