Tag Archives: penalties

The Good. Just The Good.

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the-good

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.┬áThose are the moments I live for when I’m reffing.

Cheers,
Gordon

First Day Of Fall Ball

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What a terrific start to the Fall Ball season! I wanted to give everyone my impressions of how each age group did while they were fresh in my mind, so here it goes:

U9

  • We had three U9 games going on simultaneously so I was only able to see two of the teams in that age level play. What I did see what pretty impressive. Kids were picking up ground balls and moving to open space. They were looking for passes upfield. They were also stick checking very well.
  • The first day is always the trickiest day because everyone is excited to be out there, but also nervous about making a mistake. To all the players, please try not to worry about screwing up. It will happen, but try to focus on doing something positive the next time you have the ball.
  • Last observation at the U9 level is that, at least in my game, there were a few times when the ball was on the ground and a player would just put his stick over the ball and leave it there. That is considered witholding the ball from play, and will result in a turnover. Try instead to run through the ball on the ground. I promise the lower you get the greater your chances at getting the ground ball.

U11

  • I was on the field for most of the U11 games and I saw some pretty good lacrosse out of each team. The goalies for each of the teams stepped up big time in the cage and had some excellent outlet passes to breaking midfielders.
  • While we had few penalties in the U11 games, I must ask the coaches to emphasize less stick swinging and more body position when playing defense. There were times when a player would swing his stick and just miss the player he was guarding. Then he would be completely out of position and he would get burned by a dodge. Players, remember that you play defense with your feet first, body second, and stick third.
  • Last observation at this level is that there were too many individuals and not enough team play. Frankly, I expected exactly that. Get the ball to your perceived best player and let them waltz into the defense and shoot. Unfortunately, that does not translate well to higher levels of play and will start to work less and less as teams get better on defense each week. More passing on offense to generate high-percentage shots should be what each team is looking for.

U13

  • Man does the U13 teams have some athletes! I was running up and down the field on fast breaks and clears just to keep pace with the players. Most of the players did an excellent job picking up ground balls and running to space. Then finding the open man to pass to for an easy shot.
  • As in the U11 observations, there were individuals playing the game and not necessarily playing as a team. I must emphasize the importance of communication at this level. The game is faster and requires more talk between players so that everyone knows what is going on. As the weeks progress, the players will learn more about one another, and we will start seeing the teams gel.
  • Last observation at the U13 level is that we cannot have competitive games if players do not show up. We had two or three teams where we had to scramble to find additional players to field a full ten on ten game. Players, get on your buddies and find out why they weren’t able to make it. Remember that the Master Game Schedule is available for all families to plan out your weekends so your child can participate in the games.

It seemed to me that our kids left the field with smiles on their faces, which tells me we had a great day of lacrosse and a fantastic start to the Fall Ball season. As always, if anyone has any rule questions that they didn’t get the opportunity to ask during the Sideline Q&A you can send them to rules@ayllax.com.

Cheers,
Gordon

 

 

Regarding Penalties

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In a little over a month we will be starting games for the 2012 Spring Season. With games we cannot escape getting penalties. I assure you, at some point during the season at least one player, and probably more, will receive a technical or a personal foul. I have yet to ref a perfect game, and no player has yet played in a perfect game. Because penalties are a part of lacrosse, it is important to educate players, coaches, and parents about the various kinds of penalties.

Safety is the main goal of every official. At Atlanta Youth Lacrosse, we believe that if we keep the games safe and fair, that players will naturally have fun. For youth sports there is a strong emphasis on safety. In fact, here is how we want every official to focus on:

  1. Safety
  2. Safety
  3. Safety
  4. Fairness
  5. All of the above when maintained = Fun!

So with my safety speech taken care of, lets dig into some previous posts regarding personal fouls. The following are all videos that I put together along with a few AYL players to teach everyone what the various personal fouls look like, particularly at the youth level.

Hopefully the videos above, and the posts associated with them, will help inform any new players and parents, and reinforce the information that some of our more experienced players know.

Next up are some posts I’ve written about avoiding penalties, what to expect from an official in youth games, and how to behave on a lacrosse field.

If anyone has any comments or questions, feel free to post them below. Or, you can find me at the field between games.

Featured Image Credit – www.laxallstars.com

Cheers,
Gordon