Tag Archives: featured

Marco. Polo!

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Ah, the delightfully fun game of Marco-Polo. For those unfamiliar with this favorite game go to your local pool before it closes for the summer. If enough kids are around a game of Marco-Polo will eventually get started in the shallow end.

Doesn't Look Like a Swimmer to me

Doesn't Look Like a Swimmer to me

How Marco-Polo went from renowned explorer of Asia to namesake of a children’s pool game, I will never know. Regardless of how the game got its name, I want to focus on what Marco-Polo removes: sight.

Lacrosse is a game that requires vision. I am currently unable to catch a ball consistently with my eyes closed, and I bet many players get the same result when they try. On another note, if you do try to catch a ball with your eyes closed. Please wear a helmet.

Because vision is so important in lacrosse, the other senses get neglected. Smell, and tasting don’t really come into play. Unless one player never washes his pads. Then I can smell them coming from behind the cage. The sense of touch is one I will talk about later, but this post is focused on… You guessed it: hearing.

Many young players go into a game not realizing how often they use their sense of hearing. They call out to one another and respond when called. The players start and stop when they hear the whistle, and they know it is time to substitute when the horn sounds. Hearing is a major part of lacrosse but I want players to know that they can use their sense of hearing to improve their game by becoming active listeners.

Parents, ever tell your kids “you are hearing me but you are not listening to me?” Kids are masters at hearing everything, which is why we are so cognizant about what we say around little children. Less they endlessly repeat a naughty word. Trouble is, kids are not always the best listeners.

I know when a kid is listening to me when I’m coaching. Their eyes are locked onto my mouth, their body is still, and their lean forward just a little bit. Contrast that kid with the kid that is looking all over the place, fidgeting, and leaning backwards. The active listener will pick up lessons quicker, build skills faster, and leave the kid that just hears the coach in the dust at practice.

Livestrong.com describes a way to improve listening skills through active listening practice:

Centering your attention on your sense of hearing is a natural method to train your ears to pick up on subtler sounds. You can do this activity with a variety of different mediums, such as the radio or television. You can also do this with a piece of music or in an environment with rich ambient sounds.

Make sure that the volume or background noise isn’t too loud so that you’ll have to make your ears go to the sound. Try closing your eyes and listening deeply to the music, television or environment, making a mental note of all the different sounds you hear. Listen for the subtle sounds in the background and see if you can distinguish where they are originating. You may find that music with lots of interaction, layers and harmony, like jazz or classical, is well-suited for this activity.

Try this type of listening for 20 minutes to 1/2 hour each day. As you become more accustomed to using your hearing actively, you may notice that your passive hearing naturally improves, too.

I came up with a drill to improve the listening skills of my players. This drill helps defenders hear an offensive player come at them from behind, but it can also help offensive players listen to a defenseman trying to double them from behind as well.

Blind Man’s Alley Drill

  • Two players go into the area between the restraining line and the sideline.
  • One player stands near the goal line extended with their back turned to the other player.
  • The player without his back turned stands about fifteen to twenty yards away from the “blind” player, up near the restraining line.
  • At the “Go” signal the player on the restraining line runs to the right or the left of the “blind” player.
  • Using only his sense of hearing, the “blind” player must listen for the footsteps of the player running at him.
  • As soon as the “blind” player can tell which direction the running player is going, he turns in that direction and plays defense.
  • Players switch positions, and repeat the drill with progressively softer footsteps.

Give this drill a shot during a couple of practices. Your kids will not be great at it at first, but eventually they will get accustomed to closing their eyes and listening for quiet footfalls. Before they know it they will be actively listening for the footsteps of their opponent.

Featured Image Credit – www.seanmisen.com


Officiating Clinic

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As I mentioned in this week’s first post, Andy Halperin and I are putting on an officiating clinic on Sunday, September 4th. We will cover the basic rules each youth official needs to know, as well as whistle blowing, flag throwing, penalty reporting, conducting faceoffs, and lots of signaling. It is absolutely free of charge, as we want as many youth officials as possible to go through the training. Only 5th-12th graders are permitted to attend the clinic, as of this Fall season, AYL will not allow any player under fifth grade to officiate this year.

Additionally, any AYL parents are welcome to attend the clinic. Either to learn the basics of officiating, or to become an AYL official themselves.

All attending AYL members will receive a:

  • 2011 NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rulebook
  • Copy of AYL rule differences
  • Fox 40 whistle & lanyard
  • AYL Zebra shirt

The officiating camp will consist of:

One Hour – Station Drills

      • 15 minutes – flag throwing and whistle blowing
      • 15 minutes – conducting faceoffs
      • 15 minutes – penalty reporting
      • 15 minutes – goal/crease play

One Hour – Rules Discussion

      • 30 minutes – must know youth and safety rules
      • 30 minutes – situations and tips/tricks

After the two hour camp, each potential official will receive a link to take an online test (open-book) of twenty rules questions. This is to ensure that the youth referees understand the rules and when they should be applied.

The online test will be available for five days starting at the end of the camp. A passing score of 80% (B) is required to officiate at any age level at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse. Any player that does not make the grade may take the test again at my discretion. Players that forget or do not take the test at all may not take a retest. Since five days is more than enough time to take a twenty-question test.

Finally, all officials who pass the test will be shadowed by an experienced adult official for one half of a game. Andy and I watch each official during their “practice-half.” If they do well, they are allowed to officiate without a shadow for the remainder of the season. If they still need work, they are assigned further shadowing until they are competent on their own.

It is my hope that this officiating camp, test, and final shadowing will produce youth officials that are excited about officiating. Also, this will greatly improve the fundamental knowledge of each youth official. Making them more capable of officiating a good game.

If anyone has any questions about the AYL Officiating Camp you may email me at rules@ayllax.com. More information about the camp and how to register will be released at the end of August through posts, and the AYL Weekly Newsletter.

Featured Image Credit – en.gtwallpaper.com


So You Want to be an Official?

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You have read Every Lacrosse Signal, and Off The Book Rules. Now you think you might want to be a lacrosse official. As a current official who loves my job I highly encourage any person to pick up officiating. So long as you don’t mind a job where:

  • You make fifty percent of the spectators angry
  • You are always wrong
  • You are expected to be perfect
  • You are responsible for keeping players safe
  • Everyone thinks they can do a better job than you
  • You get to wear stripes, so you’ll always look thinner

If you still want to be a lacrosse official after reading that, then welcome to the club! I will be your helpful guide as you learn the fundamental skills.

Every lacrosse official needs to perform five basic tasks:

  1. Look the part
  2. Blow the whistle loudly
  3. Throw the flag high
  4. Give clear and obvious signals
  5. Relay penalties to the scorer’s table

In my experience, if you do those five things during a game you can do a competent job. I am not going to spend eight paragraphs explaining each of these tasks. Instead, I created the following five videos that show how to do each of the five tasks every lacrosse official needs to have down pat. Practice them before you hit the field, and you will be in good shape to start the game.

Featured Image Credit – www.minnesotafunfacts.com

Make sure to read the blog tomorrow morning. I’ll be posting information about an officiating clinic for any 5th through 12th graders, and any parents, interested in officiating at AYL this Fall Season.