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Positioning Sells Calls: The TAB Techniques

February 14, 2019, 9:47 AM ET [1 Comments]
Paul Stewart
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Much of the time, when readers send me videos of controversial goal/no goal rulings where the official appears to made the incorrect call -- or at least blew the whistle too hastily -- I can diagnose where the problem likely arose before viewing the specifics of the play. Often, it starts with the official's positioning. That was the case one again in Monday's game between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Regular readers of my blogs have heard me repeat these three interrelated officiating mantras over and over again, because they are at the root of making the right call at any level of hockey:

1) Positioning sells calls.

2) The money is at the net. Get to the net for the best possible vantage point and don't make a call out of sheer haste. Take an extra moment if you need it.

3) Skate where you need to skate to see what you need to see.

I cannot emphasize these principles strongly enough. That's why I repeat them frequently. People may agree or disagree with a close call -- especially one around the net -- but if the official is in proper position, he's got justification and credibility to back up his call.

On plays around the net, there are three useful techniques for a referee to get in the optimal position: TAB, Telescope, Accordian, Banana. They all involve skating rather then being stationary.

I call the first technique the Accordion move. Picture the bellows of an accordion and the way it expands outwardly before retracting. From the back boards to the area around the net, the official can move in a similar fashion.

The second technique is the Telescope move. A telescope zooms in and zooms out. This can be done in a straight line that runs closely parallel to or along the goal line from the side.

What about if the referee is one side of the net and the play needs to be better seen from a vantage point on the third side. That's where the third technique, the Banana Move comes in. As the name implies, the technique involves making a curve-around toward the other side.

In all cases, a referee should not make the call from a stationary position in the corner. Tomm many leagues put more emphasize on the referee "staying out of the way of the play" but when it happens, it greatly increases the risk of a missed call at the net. It's poor coaching.


A Class of 2018 inductee to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games. Today, Stewart is the director of hockey officiating for the ECAC.

Visit Paul's official website, YaWannaGo.com
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