Category Archives: Parents

No Biting

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I never thought I’d have a reason to write a post titled “No Biting” but I was wrong. Luis Suarez of Uruguay was recently suspended for nine matches and four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in their World Cup match. That is quite the hefty suspension, but considering Suarez was suspended twice before for biting an opponent I’m not surprised at the length of this suspension. You know, that bears repeating. This individual has bitten opposing players more than once before! Wow.

What I find worse than the bite is the foolish defense his coach gave after the game. “Óscar Tabárez, the Uruguayan coach, also said he had not seen the incident (nor any video or photographs of it afterward), but he leapt to Suárez’s defense anyway, vehemently attacking journalists for, in his opinion, unfairly targeting Suárez. Tabárez added: ‘This is a football World Cup, not about morality, cheap morality‘ (www.nytimes.com).” That last line is telling. This coach, in defending his star player, wants us all to believe that the ends justify the means at the World Cup. This blithe comments does a lot of damage because it implies that winning a game or being a remarkably good player is more important than the manner in which the game is won.

Lacrosse has a long history of honoring the game, but those of us in lacrosse do not have a monopoly on honor in sports. Every team and individual sport I’ve participated in reinforced the ideals of:

  • Modesty
  • Courtesy
  • Integrity
  • Compassion
  • Gratitude
  • Perseverance
  • Self Control
  • Indomitable Spirit

Those are the words I recited before and after every youth kickboxing class at Tiger Academy, and every other sport I played growing up helped instill those words to my core. Biting his opponent means Suarez had zero self-control, no courtesy, very little compassion, and a complete lack of integrity.

As someone who coaches and interacts with youth players on a regular basis I cannot tell you how much damage the win at all costs mentality does to young players. If we as the adults do not strongly condemn the public actions of players like Suarez and then sit the kids down to explain that poor behavior and actions leads to severe consequences, we will see more players acting poorly on the grandest stages.

I remember a practice from my high school days where a few of my teammates got detention for not tucking their shirts into their pants during the school day as per the dress code. After detention these players came to the field, got dressed, and joined us late. Our coach put us through our paces as usual, and then the last fifteen minutes of practice were spent running Sprints with Wisdom.

My teammates and I sprinted the full length of the field down and back. We were provided a short rest after each sprint during which our coach espoused the hidden meaning behind the dress code:

“You are men! You are not supposed to care what you look like! If you are supposed to wear a belt you wear a belt! If you are supposed to tuck in your shirt then you tuck in your shirt!”

whistle

“You do not give a teacher attitude when you get called out for ignoring the rule!”

whistle

“You don’t get detention for dressing like a fool when you have a job. You get fired!”

whistle

“You are wasting practice time because you cannot tuck in your shirts! You are men, you do not care what you look like. Tuck in your shirt, wear a belt, and un-pop the collar!”

Those are Sprints with Wisdom. The violation was small. Not tucking in your shirt is not on the same level as biting someone, but tucking in your shirt demonstrates Modesty and Self-Control. When young players are given the opportunity to screw up on little things the adults around them are responsible for correcting them until the lesson sticks. That way players learn to demonstrate attitudes and attributes that are valued in society before they start biting people because they got bumped into on the lacrosse field.

Featured Image Credit – http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28023882

Cheers,
Gordon

That’s A Stupid Rule

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“That’s stupid.”, “That’s a stupid rule.”, “We don’t use those rules, they’re stupid.”

When I hear these comments from players, coaches, fans, parents, program administrators, or tournament organizers I always take a breath to settle myself. This prevents me from starting an argument that I have no hope of winning. I usually hear the following from each group:

  • A player after calling him for withholding when he loses his crosse with the ball in it:
    • “What?! I get a chance to get my stick back! That’s a dumb rule.” 
  • A coach after flagging his #1 player for delay of game when he rolled the ball away:
    • “You’ve got to be kidding me, he was rolling it to where the restart was going to be anyway! That’s a ridiculous rule!”
  • A parent after I flag his nine year old for launching his body like a SCUD missile into the helmet of an unaware opponent:
    • “You guys take all the fun out of a physical game with these stupid rules!”
  • A program administrator explaining to me that I am to play the game without NOCSAE balls:
    • “I don’t think there is any real difference between NOCSAE balls and non-NOCSAE balls. That was a stupid rule they put in, and we choose not to use those balls in our games.”
  • A tournament organizer on goalie arm pads at the youth level:
    • “It doesn’t protect the goalies from shots, and it’s unnecessary equipment. It’s a stupid rule that doesn’t do anything.”

Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you that I love a good rules discussion. I like bouncing weird situations off my fellow officials and then seeing who is right. If I’m right I have a mini-parade in my head complete with Matthew Broderick singing “Twist and Shout.” If I’m wrong I feel bad and try to remember if I misapplied the rule in any earlier game I reffed. Those are great rules discussions because there isn’t much emotion involved since officials look at the rules as nothing more than the rules. We just want to know how to apply the written rules in the fairest way possible.

I prefer to look at the rules from an officiating perspective because they make the most sense from that perspective, which is why some rules grate on every other group involved in the game. I know because I’ve been in every one of the positions listed above except for parent and can understand those perspectives. However, as soon as someone tells me that a rule is stupid I lose a great deal of respect for their position, especially if that is their only reasoning.

The argument of “that’s stupid” worked brilliantly for me and my friends during recess in elementary school. Somewhere between learning how to write a five paragraph essay and balancing an algebraic equation it was impressed upon me that the argument “that’s stupid” is pretty stupid. It doesn’t work in school, higher education, or any planning meeting I’ve ever sat on. I can’t tell a client that his idea is stupid without also having a very well-reasoned argument behind my position (and telling the client that his idea is stupid is rarely a good way to win him over to my position). Yet for reasons unknown to me “that’s stupid” is the fallback position for most people who disagree with youth rules, and their follow up argument generally goes one of two ways. Either, “that’s just how I feel,” or, “they’re ruining the game.”

I think it is time to destroy both of these tired arguments:

  • “That’s just how I feel.”
    • I get this one. I feel strongly about lots of issues. It’s the nature of being human, but feelings are terrible guides for rules. Some people feel youth goalkeepers should not be required to wear arm pads during games because they need to learn how to deal with getting whacked in the elbows when they reach an older age level, and elbow pads don’t provide protection against really hard shots and tend to limit a goalkeeper’s movement. That’s the feeling. The reason this rule was put into place is because across the country moms, dads, grandparents, coaches, and players from the opposing team would shout “Elbows! Goalie is out, get him!” whenever a goalkeeper ran out of the crease. Which led to several youth goalkeepers getting their arms bruised and broken. Feelings should never be a reason to disregard safety rules or required equipment, which, contrary to public belief, have solid logic behind them.
  • “They’re ruining the game.”
    • Ah the mysterious cabal of cloaked people who meet in a darkened alcove during a full moon and discuss how best to ruin lacrosse as we know it. The group of which everyone speaks but no one researches is the Men’s Game Rules Subcommittee, and that group is listed on the last page of the 2014 US Lacrosse Boys Youth Lacrosse Rules PDF, and unlike the Illuminati they ask for feedback: “Please send all comments or suggestions regarding the Rules for Boys’ Youth Lacrosse to the US Lacrosse Men’s Game Rules Subcommittee […] to boysyouthrules@uslacrosse.org. Please do not contact NFHS about these rules.” Here is a helpful hint: don’t send emails saying that a rule is stupid. A more reasoned argument is necessary.
    • To the other part of this poor argument – If you believe that the Men’s Game Rules Subcommittee, the NFHS, or the NCAA is trying to ruin the game with new rules then I want to know exactly when the game was perfect. Was it where it needed to be prior to being discovered by French Jesuit missionaries? Or were the rules William George Beers established in 1869 plenty? Wait, I’ve got it. The argument isn’t that the game is being ruined by new rules because if that were true then the game was ruined well before the 20th century. In fact, this really isn’t an argument. It’s just whining.
    • The one gripe I hear the most is that “they’re ruining the game by taking out hitting.” I hate to burst the bubble of these individuals, but William Beers, who wrote the first standard rules of lacrosse, stated that: “‘The perfection of checking is to check without hitting your opponent’ and that actually hitting an opponent with a check [or body] was indicative of bad or unskillful play (178, 201).” Hitting was never in the game to start with as a legal action and happened to be looked down upon. So in a sense, the game was ruined by the introduction of hitting, and all these groups are trying to do is make a contact sport as safe as possible for your child to play. What a horrible group of people.

The rules are going to change. The only reason I don’t like the rules changing is that it’s more work for me. I have to read each book and study up on how to apply new rules as fairly as possible while remembering the numerous exceptions to the old ones, but I don’t reflexively say “that’s stupid” when I come across a rule I personally disagree with because that accomplishes nothing. Do some research, come up with a better argument and then we’ll talk.

Cheers,
Gordon

Reviewing Impact Mouthguards

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The ability to connect with good people making amazing products through our interconnected world continues to amaze me. My post “Maintain Your Mouth Guards” generated a solid number of views to the AYL blog. One of those views was Jeff Lyle with Impact Mouthguards at impactmouthguards.com, and he reached out to me after reading the article to discuss having Impact Mouthguards provide a discount to AYL members for their custom guards. Since they’re a local company based in Alpharetta I met up with Jeff and Frank Rabinovitch so they could show me the manufacturing process and what customization options they had available.

In order to get a handle on how they create custom mouthguards and give a review of the final product I went through a full fitting, and I’ve got pictures of the process at the end of this post. To demonstrate a proper fitting Impact put together this excellent instructional video:

The process isn’t too bad. I’d say sitting with a mouth full of special puddy is only mildly uncomfortable, and the result is an incredibly comfortable mouthguard. Once the impression of my teeth was cleared by Jeff I asked for a yellow mouthguard with AYL printed on the front. They also have several flavored options and I went with fruit punch (more on that later!). After getting fitted and putting together the discount for AYL members I went home and waited on the special delivery of my custom fitted and custom designed mouthguard.

About a week after my fitting I received my new mouthguard and decided to give it a test run by actually going out for a run. I suited up in my usual gear and picked a two mile route in my neighborhood with a ton of hills to simulate the hard running a player does in a game. I ran hard, did a few roll dodges, swung my head from side to side, breathed with my mouth open and closed, and tried to manuever my body in as many ways as possible to dislodge this mouthguard. It didn’t move.

I tried to make the mouthguard move, but it was so perfectly fitted to my teeth it wasn’t going anywhere. After two minutes of running I forgot it was there and was able to breath normally during the entire run. The pleasant and not overpowering flavor of fruit punch was present when I clenched my teeth into the guard. When I got fitted I asked Jeff how long the flavoring lasted, expecting an answer of two or three weeks. He said that because the flavor is sealed into the mouthguard it will stay lightly flavored for the life of the guard. I freaking love science!

After my run I recorded a short video to demonstrate how easy it was for me to talk with it in my mouth, and that it was comfortable for me to drink water with the mouthguard in my mouth:

Being comfortable, easy to talk around, and easy to drink around makes this the ideal mouthguard for any player in a contact sport. I spent a lot of time in youth games reminding players to put their mouthguards in, or stopping play to get a mouthguard back into a player’s mouth. I’ve seen players with half the mouthguard hanging out because one half is chewed beyond recognition. The reason for this is because most mouthguards are uncomfortable and come out easily. Even the boil-and-bite mouthguards require the player to bite down to keep them in place. The Impact Mouthguard practically sucked itself to the top of my teeth. I had to wiggle it a few times before it dislodged it’s grip on my teeth.

I really want our players to protect their teeth, and $49 for a custom fitted mouthguard is a great deal. Especially with the $5 AYL discount when purchasing a custom mouthguard from Impact here: http://www.impactmouthguards.com/mg-lacrosse/. Use the discount code AYL to knock five bucks off the total price no matter what customization options you select. If you’re curious about how the entire process works check out this link to learn more: http://www.impactmouthguards.com/how-it-works/

We are going to set up a time before fall ball gets going for the Impact team to come out and do custom fittings at our fields, but until then I recommend checking out their site and getting a custom fitted mouthguard with the AYL design or with your own custom look!

Getting Fitted

before-fittinggetting-fittedsecuring-impressionpressing-gumswaiting-2happy-mold

The final result:

in-case

after-run

 

Featured Image Credit – http://www.impactmouthguards.com/mg-lacrosse/

Cheers,
Gordon