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Tips on Setting Your Season Goals - And Reaching Them

By USA Hockey, 08/30/16, 4:00PM MDT


Massachusetts Hockey Referee-in-Chief Kevin Donovan offers tips on goal-setting for 2016-17

As important as it is for players and coaches to set goals each new season, it’s equally as important for officials. Whether you aim to make it to the next level of officiating or you want to finally master your skating skills, it’s wise to start the year with goals that will help you work toward improving your officiating skills.

Massachusetts Hockey Referee-in-Chief Kevin Donovan tells us why officials should have their own personal goals for 2016-17, and how to go about achieving them.

USA Hockey: Why is it important for officials to set goals before heading into a new season?

Kevin Donovan: We should always set goals in life. The importance of it as it relates to officials is that it gives you something to strive for and to not just settle and be complacent in what you’re doing. What we talk about with the officials at (summer officiating) seminars is that you get paid to do a job here, so you have to have pride in what you’re doing. You can take pride in that by setting goals.

USAH: What types of goals should officials be setting

Donovan: The first goal for every official is to just have pride in what you are doing and go out and do the best job you can every time. On top of that, you have to have a goal to learn and develop as an official. We’re always continuing to learn, and in that process you have to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something; that way you can continue to learn and develop yourself.

For senior officials, you also have to strive to go further. When I talk to senior officials, I break it down and describe it with PIE. ‘P’ is your performance, that’s what you’re measured on. Your ‘I’ is your image, and your ‘E’ is your exposure and focuses on where you want to go and what your aspirations are in your career. Is it only youth hockey? That’s absolutely fine. Or, do you want to continue on and do junior hockey? College hockey? You have to have aspirations and think about how you’re going to get there.

When you first start out, you need to really focus on the ‘P’ and your performance. That should be 60 percent of your beginning year’s goals, with 20 percent focused on your image and 20 percent on your exposure. As you start to progress, you look and see what you’re doing, where you’ve developed.

USAH: Are there any specific skills you see officials wanting to improve?

Donovan: Your goals can be a set of skills or something mental—as long as it improves your game. If you’re told you need to improve your backwards skating, well, go to an ice session and practice. If you need to work on dropping the puck, grab a bucket of pucks and go out in your driveway and work on dropping those pucks. Don’t be afraid to work on your skills, learn and improve.

USAH: Should officials be setting new goals throughout the year as well?

Donovan: Absolutely. You have to constantly look at your goals every year and even during the year as you start to progress. If you’re a young official, maybe you set your goal and say I’m going to start working Tier I hockey this year. Midway through the season you’re game is on, you’re doing great—but is that all you really want to do for a year? Or, do you have the ability, based on your performance, to say, ok, now I’m going to focus on my image and go a little further in this career. Maybe you reach out to a senior official and ask how you get to that next level—set the goal to get to that next level. Your goals should shift every year and you need to evaluate your goals during the year to ensure that you’re making progress. Don’t be satisfied once you’ve hit your goal. Instead, ask yourself what you need to do next to get further and achieve your next goal.

USAH: What’s the best way to achieve some of your goals?

Donovan: There’s such an importance in officials reaching out to one another for help in developing, especially when it comes to the younger officials and the veteran officials. Call your referee-in-chief, call your supervisors or just talk to somebody who is working at the level that you want to work at. Ask questions and learn from others. I think you have to take part of that development on yourself. You have to take the initiative to find answers to your questions, and you have to want to achieve your goals or get to where you want to be.

Constantly ask for feedback. Go to classes. Ask the assignor you’re working with to put you with a seasoned official that can help you develop and critique you. Don’t be afraid to ask what you’re doing right and wrong and learn from someone who has more experience.

As veteran officials, we need to work together to help those younger officials. Don’t be afraid to help mentor a younger or newer official. We need to do more of that. Younger officials are trying to improve and that should be their top goal. Let’s help them achieve that.

USAH: Final words of advice for officials heading into the season?

Donovan: Make sure your goals are reachable. Put something out there that you want to reach, but don’t have a goal that’s too far out that it’s not realistically attainable. You have to have confidence that you can reach that goal. Once you do, you reassess your goal and make another one. Once you reach that, set another one. Don’t be satisfied with achieving just one goal. Keep working and don’t stop.