What’s the right call? That question has been asked countless times among ice hockey players, officials, coaches and spectators. Previously, the answer came from flipping through a 140-page rulebook, assuming you had one available.
Recently, USA Hockey took a major step toward improving that process with the launch of its Mobile Rulebook app for mobile devices. This native app is free of charge and downloadable from the Apple, Android and Windows app stores.
BJ Ringrose, USA Hockey coordinator of officiating education, recently talked about some of the features and benefits of the app, and described the development process.
USA HOCKEY: How was the idea for this app generated?
BJ RINGROSE: This idea has been in the works for several years. We’re always looking for new ways to educate our membership about the playing rules. In the past, the only members who had access to rulebooks were officials and coaches. That changed about 3 or 4 years ago.
USA Hockey: What happened then?
RINGROSE: We launched the mobile-friendly rulebook website. The playing rules were posted online at usahockeyrulebook.com and were available for anyone using a laptop or mobile device web browser.
USA Hockey: So that was the first step to building this app?
RINGROSE: It was. We always talked about building a native (downloadable) rulebook app, but we were never really sure what the reception would be. The use of mobile devices has exploded over the last 10 years, but there was always the question: “Will they use it?” The mobile-friendly rulebook website was an inexpensive litmus test.
The website quickly became one of the most popular on the USA Hockey digital network. Earlier this year, we sent a survey to about 500 USA Hockey Officiating Program members asking them about their use of the website and desire to have a full-blown native app available. The results of the survey made it very clear that the app was what they wanted.
USA Hockey: So now that the app has launched, are they using it?
RINGROSE: So far, we have more than 13,000 downloads in only the first month of the app being available to the public. The app was, at one point, among the top-25 most popular free sports apps in the world.
USA Hockey: So what are the benefits of using the app over just flipping through the rulebook?
RINGROSE: Besides the fact that it fits in your pocket? For people experienced with the rulebook, the app is much quicker to navigate and find a particular rule. With paper rulebooks, you would flip through pages. With the app, it’s as simple as tapping the screen to shift back and forth between the rules. And of course, the app is fully searchable, so it expedites the process over sifting through pages to find the section pertaining to the topic in question.
USA Hockey: Any other cool features?
RINGROSE: In addition to the playing rules and casebook situations, there is a Bookmarks feature to mark certain rules an official might want to revisit later. There’s also a Notes feature attached to each rule that allows the user to type simple notes regarding a rule. We’re also working to expand the video examples attached to the various rules.
USA Hockey: Video examples?
RINGROSE: We’re stockpiling videos that demonstrate hooking, boarding and other infractions. The USA Hockey Playing Rules Committee works very hard to develop clear rulebook language and good casebook situations to make interpretation clear, but sometimes you have to watch video clips to see the difference between minor and major infractions.
The only slight drawback is these videos still require a mobile or WiFi signal, but the majority of the rulebook app features will work off-line at 30,000 feet or in the darkest cave of a locker room.
USA Hockey: So where do we download this app?
RINGROSE: It is available for all Apple, Android and Windows devices through iTunes, Google Play and Windows app stores. It’s available free of charge to everyone, regardless of whether they are a USA Hockey member or not.
USA Hockey: So, if I’m a coach on the bench during a game, and I think the official made a mistake, I could use the app to confirm that he or she botched the call?
RINGROSE: You could, but USA Hockey Rule 308(b) still applies.
USA Hockey: Rule 308(b)?
RINGROSE: Look it up.
Tag(s): Stripes Newsletter