Tag Archives: behavior

Please Remember

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I like to read up on articles about youth sports, and while searching for new posts there is a good chance I’ll come across a “Please Remember” sign like this one:


There are all sorts of variations. Yankees for baseball leagues, Blackhawks for hockey leagues, Patriots for football leagues. Pretty much all of these signs are meant to be humorous reminders of a serious issue – that we are watching little kids playing a game. These signs are helpful because they cut to the core of a major problem in youth sports across the United States. The problem, as I see it, is not watching a youth game in context.

I love competition, but I don’t always want competition. Sometimes cooperation works just as well or better for a given task. The benefit of any youth team sport is that players learn how to cooperate on a team while competing against other players. Ideally in an environment that does not discount the importance of one in favor of the other. The playful signs I’ve run into work because we all get the joke. We’ve all lost our cool at a youth game. It happens from time to time, and that is okay. What is not okay is always losing your cool game after game, weekend after weekend, and season after season. The sign helps because we all get the joke, but I think the sign would hold a lot more power if another sign was posted next to it detailing the opposite behavior that gets all the press.

Here is a sign similar to the first one above:

please-remember #2

And here is the sign I created with the opposite message:

Please Remember-Awful Sign


The sign I created sounds ridiculous. The “Please Remember” rules are clearly untrue and not grounded in any kind of reality, but we can all lose our minds a little bit in a one goal U13 game after three earlier games in the summer heat. Humor tends to diffuse situations, and I encourage everyone out in youth programs around the country gearing up for summer ball to kindly approach the folks who might be suffering from the early symptoms of heat exhaustion. Offer them an ice pop, and remind them to follow the good sign and not the bad one.


The Good. Just The Good.

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When I’m not writing about playing better or coaching techniques, I’m usually writing about overcoming negative behavior in youth athletics. Well today I want to write about one of my favorite experiences as a lacrosse official in a U11 game.

About three years ago I was officiating a tournament in north Georgia at the start of the summer. I had a mix of age levels each day, and that particular day I had three U11 games. The first two U11 games were brutal. Parents screaming, coaches screaming, players launching themselves into airborne miniature missiles aimed at the heads of their opponents or swinging their sticks so violently I was surprised that none broke. Usually in these games I can make a kid laugh or smile even when all the other adults are going crazy, but in those two games the kids on both teams were dialed in with a level of seriousness that was unexpected. My partner and I threw flags, and we might have ejected a coach. I can’t remember, it was really hot.

I can deal with crazy people and wild penalties, and I can deal with hot weather. Combine the two though and I get cranky. With my third U11 game coming up I was not happy about having to ref it. Here was another game where the players would be out of control, the coaches encouraging out of control behavior, and the parents yelling at me that I wasn’t keeping anybody under control.

Yet, that didn’t happen.

The players played with the appropriate level of body contact for their age group. They didn’t swing their sticks. In fact, they rarely tried more than a well timed lift check! The game was competitive, but the coaches stayed positive with their players and didn’t gripe to my partner or I excessively. Even better, the parents were enjoying the game and were very pleasant. I started that game with the idea that it was going to be a giant mess of craziness, but I ended it startled and genuinely happy.

I was so pleased with how everyone behaved that I asked both coaches to have their players take a knee on the far sideline where their parents were. I introduced myself and told them that their game was the best game I got to officiate all day and that everyone made me feel like coming out again the next day. I told the players that they made me a happy referee because they played with skill and finesse, and I complimented the parents and coaches for keeping the youth game in perspective and enjoying a nice, albeit hot, Georgia afternoon.

It is easy to get jaded in sports, especially when you see the same poor behavior at every game. Most games it isn’t that everyone is being a pain, but that there is one person on the sideline, one coach in the coaches box, or one player on the field making a mockery of the sport. But every once in a while there are games where the game is played and everyone enjoys it for what it is. A safe, fun time with friends.

I want to see a player helping up his opponent after a hard hit. I want to see a coach maintain a high level of intensity with his team without going overboard. I want to see a parent calming down another parent on the sideline who may be taking the youth game a little too seriously. Those are the moments I live for when I’m reffing.


Rules Breakdown and Game Expectations

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Tomorrow is the big day because its GAME DAY! That’s right, Atlanta Youth Lacrosse’s Fall Ball season gets underway Saturday with U9, U11, and U13 games. With games comes responsibility. Everyone, including players, coaches, parents, fans and staff must take responsibility for following the rules for games and conduct at our fields. So let’s breakdown the rules for each division with this handy chart:


If anyone has any questions about the rules of the game, feel free to email me at rules@ayllax.com or find me or Andy Halperin at the fields. We are always willing to answer questions.

Also, if you are new to the game please check out Tadpole Lacrosse. This is a document that I put together that is an introduction to lacrosse for new players and parents.

Now onto rules for everyone while down at our fields:

  • Unless you are a Pre K (Incredibles) parent, we ask that you stay behind the fence surrounding the fields. Our STAR volunteers will be on hand to assist players with gearing up.
  • No dogs, unless you have a service/assistance dog.
  • No score. We will not be keeping score during any of the games. We want Fall Ball to be centered around player improvement. Having a score gets in the way of what players should be focusing on during games.
  • We are guests of Riverwood High School. Please do not leave any trash at these facilities. We expect everyone involved with our program to be respectful and courteous to all Riverwood staff.
  • Please park only in the upper parking lot.
  • Please review the Positive cheering and How To Yell When Watching From The Sidelines posts. We expect all fans to be good sports before, during and after each game. We do not want to stop or terminate a game because of poor behavior from one individual or group of people, but we will do so if necessary.

I believe that covers everything. If I missed anything, we will notify everyone via our weekly newsletter. I hope everyone is as excited for the first day of Fall Ball as I am. Let’s make tomorrow a great day for everyone involved!