Tag Archives: cross-check

Every Lacrosse Signal

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This week is Rules/Officiating week. Two quick things before we dive in: The last post of the week will detail an officiating camp open to all 5th-12th grade AYL players, and any parents who are interested in officiating. Second, I will be detailing youth rules that may not be implemented in your local league. I highly encourage fellow youth lacrosse leagues to consider implementing one or two of the rules I will discuss that drastically improve player skills and are easy to get the hang of. Now, onto every lacrosse signal!

During my sideline Q & A sessions, I often get asked what a particular signal means. I explain the offsides signal, crease violation signal, illegal procedure signal, and more. I always get eyeballs that light up in understanding from the fans, especially youth parents who are brand new to the game. This sideline Q & A is not just great for the fans, it also helps me and my officiating partner during the second half. Because all the fans now recognize that the official knows the game, and they relax and enjoy the game even more since they now know what the officials are signaling.

All official lacrosse signals can be found in the back pages of the NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rulebook. They are broken down into three categories:

  1. Procedural Signals (timeouts, goals, stalling, counts, failure to advance, etc)
  2. Personal Fouls (slashing, tripping, unsportsmanlike conduct, ejection, etc)
  3. Technical Fouls (pushing, illegal procedure, warding, conduct foul, etc)

The video below details every signal in the back of the NFHS rulebook. After watching it you will be able to identify what any US Lacrosse-trained official is signaling during any lacrosse game. Also, any youth players who are interested in officiating can improve their signaling by practicing the signals in this video.


Cheers,
Gordon

Avoiding Penalties in Youth Lax

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Penalties are a part of lacrosse. In the youth game, penalties are usually a big part of the game for two reasons. One, young players mature at different rates. U13 is always the worst grade for me to officiate because half of the kids are Davids, the other half are Goliaths, and the Davids do not have throwing stones. Because of some kids are bigger and faster they will, fairly or not, get the majority of the fouls. Second, youth players do not always remember the best way to check, which often results in big swings, cross-checks, and pushes. Over the years, I accumulated different methods of avoiding penalties, and I share a few here.

Slafkosky - Defensive Wizard

Slafkosky - Defensive Wizard

In tenth grade I attended a camp that Dave Slafkosky, a legendary defensive coach from Maryland, was teaching at. I inhaled his lessons about defense. He spoke about positioning, communication, and hard sliding, but he gave one nugget of information that I will forever remember. He said, “Gordon. Your first check should always be a poke check right to the guy’s stomach.” In the context of a youth game, this is very good advice. Typically, young players cradle with both hands. As a result, their stick runs diagonally across their body, which makes aiming a poke check at the stomach area a very high percentage check.

The other reason for throwing the first check at the center of your opponent is a mind game with the official. I usually remind our AYL coaches that my hand goes to my flag when I see a player wind up for a big check, since, more often than not, the stick is coming down hard on the helmet, shoulder, or back. When I see a wind up I profile that player as someone I need to watch, but when I see a player throw a hard poke check towards his opponent’s stick I profile that player as a safe/smart individual. Often, my first observation on a player’s behavior prove correct. So coaches, remind your player’s that officials pay attention to the high, wind up swings, and will focus on players who repeat that checking motion.

Now let’s talk about the “I’m Beat,” or desperation check. Here’s the situation:

  • Red player gets burned by Blue player on a roll dodge. Blue player spins around and chases Red player with his stick outstretched behind him with one arm. Red goes to shoot, and in the process of shooting, Blue swings his stick overhead. He hits Red’s stick and then ricochets hard into Red’s helmet, drawing a one-minute slash penalty.
^ Think This is a Cross-Check?

^ Think This is a Cross-Check?

I defy any coach to comment that none of their players have ever committed the above infraction. The problem here is the nature of youth players. They get beat so they panic. They know they cannot let the other player score, so a gigantic wind-up check might redeem them for getting beat. Honestly, I might as well throw the flag when I see the wind up because nothing good is coming from it.

For the coaches, there is a method of teaching the desperation check that will almost always prevent a flag, and there are three parts to it:

  1. When your player gets beat the first thing they need to do is run as hard as they can to catch up to their opponent. The distance has to get picked up before a check can be applied.
  2. Do not worry about getting in front of a shooter. Why? Because the shooter is going to do one thing, and that is draw his stick behind his body in preparation for a shot. Drawing that stick back turns it into a huge target for your defensive player.
  3. Swing the final check up to the sky, not down to the ground. It is very difficult for a player to hit his opponent’s helmet checking from below the helmet. Nearly all slash calls result in the stick coming down on top on the helmet, not the other way around. In all of my private instruction sessions, I teach players to swing up on the desperation check because the chance of hitting the helmet hard enough to draw a flag is miniscule.

I have gotten beat more times than I care to remember, but learning how to properly do a desperation check saved many goals from hitting the net. Remember, the only way to eliminate the panic from getting beat is to teach effective methods of dealing with it. If coaches do not do this, the first thing a player will do is wind up and swing down wildly. So teach them the better method, and you should see your team’s penalties decrease over time.

*Note – There will be future posts expanding on this topic.

Featured Image Credit – www.ctpost.com

Cheers,
Gordon

Personal Fouls Review

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With one weekend of games in the books it is time for a short review of personal fouls. As many of you are aware, I am working on developing a library of lacrosse penalties for the youth game. Below are each of the videos in the “Personal Fouls” series. Hopefully, they will answer any questions that new or returning players and parents have regarding the fouls they see during an average game.

If you would like to view the individual posts, which go into greater written detail, please visit this page: http://ayllax.com/category/penalties-2

Cheers,
Gordon