Tag Archives: sideline

Sideline Q&A

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One of my good friends and officiating mentors, Don Stoppenbach, gave me a great example many years ago that evolved into the Sideline Q&A Sessions that Atlanta Youth Lacrosse fans have come to expect and enjoy. While I did not get to do as many Q&A sessions as I wanted to this year, I was able to do a good many during the first few weeks of the season, and all of our parents and fans came up with great questions. This post will give you a little history on the Q&A sessions, how they have developed, and finally a list of frequently asked questions and answers for everyone’s enjoyment.

History of the Sideline Q&A

My first experience with the Sideline Q&A was quite a surprise. I was helping officiate a few youth games many years ago, and during halftime of the game my partner Don went over to the fans’ sideline and introduced himself. He stated that he was a GLOA official who was helping ref this youth tournament that weekend, and if anyone had any questions about rules to ask him.

I was a little stunned. It never occurred to me to go over to the fans, who are usually not the official’s best friends, and try to befriend them with a friendly question and answer session. What surprised me was how effective this strategy was in keeping the fans and parents calm. It showed to all of the fans how knowledgeable the referee was, and that he was willing to help everyone enjoy the game more by informing all the fans about the various rules of lacrosse.

After seeing Don do this for each half of our series of games together I was convinced that the Sideline Q&A was a winner, and I wanted to take it to Atlanta Youth Lacrosse.

Development of the Sideline Q&A

While I do not usually get too nervous when speaking in front of people, I was definitely battling butterflies before my first Sideline Q&A. It was back in the early days of YMCA Lax, the precursor to Atlanta Youth Lacrosse, and I was the head official each weekend. I put it on myself to go over to the fans’ sideline in almost every halftime and conduct a brief Q&A session. I have no idea how the first session went. I was that nervous. Mainly because it is generally not a good idea for officials, who try to be unbiased, to interact with fans, who are always biased. So I was shaking in my boots trying my best to answer a lot of questions in a short period of time.

Like anything else, practice makes you better, and I got a lot of practice answering questions that season. I got a lot better at introducing myself to the entire sideline, getting everyone’s attention, and answering questions briefly but thoroughly. Eventually, I developed the following introduction:

“Hello everyone! My name is Gordon Corsetti and I’m the head official here at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse. If anyone has any questions about rules, or about something that was called during this game please ask away and I will answer your question as best as I can.”

My favorite thing about the Q&A sessions is how much it calms down everybody. It shows that there is a capable, competent, and confident official on the field who is in control of the game. Ultimately, the parents want their kids to be safe and have fun. It is my opinion that if a game is officiated focusing on safety and fairness, then the kids will always have a good time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a legal body check?
    • From the front or from the side, with the hands together, and between the collarbone and the waist.
  • What is a legal stick check?
    • Hitting the gloved hand holding the stick, or the stick itself.
  • What is in-and-out of the crease?
    • If a defensive player or the goalie has the ball in possession outside of the crease. He may not enter the crease.
  • How long is each penalty?
    • Personal fouls = 1, 2, or 3 minutes depending on the official’s discretion. Most personal fouls are one-minute in length, but can be made longer if especially illegal or violent.
    • Technical fouls = 30 seconds
  • Why did you call failure to advance?
    • Older teams are usually subject to advancement counts. 20 seconds for the defense to clear the ball past the plane of the midfield line, and 10 seconds for the offense to touch the ball into the box.

I would really like to thank my good friend Don Stoppenbach for giving me such a useful tool for managing youth games. I’ve answered so many great questions from our parents and fans, but the best thing that I’ve gotten from the Sideline Q&A were the people coming up to me after the game and saying how great it was for someone to come over and answer questions.

Featured Image Credit – www.designyoutrust.com



How To Yell When Watching From The Sideline

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I like well-behaved parents/fans because I have been around a lot of ill-behaved ones. In nearly every youth game that I have officiated (U15 and below) there has been at least one, and usually two, fans screaming instructions to their player or entire team from the sideline. Often, it is incredibly poor advice. These are the same individuals who yell when their player is taken off the field, openly criticize the officials, and generally know next to nothing about how lacrosse is played.

I believe that there would be no problems on the fans’ sideline if every fan approached every game with the goal of contributing to a positive, sporting atmosphere. Unfortunately, there tends to be a few people that willfully ignore that idea. Believing that their yelling is helping their team. Here’s a hint: you are not helping. Take for example the parent that yells shoot when a player is twenty yards away from the goal. It accomplishes nothing more than getting the player amped up to take a shot. My personal favorite is when the Head Coach is yelling “hold the ball” and all the parents are yelling “shoot!” More often than not, the player will listen to the voice of their mother or father and take an ill-advised shot. Meanwhile their coach has his head buried in his hands, wondering if there is enough duct tape to put over the mouths of his team’s fans.

Another key thing to keep in mind is that your player recognizes your voice whenever you yell something during the game. I played in some very competitive high school games, and my father attended many of them. I could always recognize his voice from the stands. The kicker is he never said anything more than “Go, Gordon!” A coach with thirty plus years of experience in the game, and he never once gave me advice from the sideline. He knew his role was to root for me when I did well, and encourage me when things turned rough. I was never once embarrassed by my father’s comments from the sidelines, however I have been embarrassed for some of my teammates whose parents who thought their role was to assist the coaches from the stands.

So how do you yell when watching from the sideline? The easiest way to do this is to limit yourself to a few specific phrases:

  • “Go, (insert player name here)!”
  • “Great play!”
  • “Awesome defense!”
  • “Stay strong!”
  • “Keep playing hard!”

If you limit yourself to general statements about your player and your team, you don’t run afoul of the coach trying to do his job of running the offense or defense. Also, you can never get into the problem of giving bad advice to your player at a critical moment during a game. Plus, all of those phrases are extremely positive. Avoid yelling anything negative. For example, here are a few negative comments I have heard during games over the years:

  • “Put him in a body bag!” (This during a U11 game, I was stunned speechless)
  • “Destroy him!” (Would you want that yelled at your child?)
  • “Wake up!” (Accomplishes nothing more that getting the player nervous)
  • “That was the worst call I’ve ever seen!” (just making the Head Coach’s job more difficult, plus it sets a bad example for all the players)

If what you are about to yell is not positive it is best to swallow your comment. Here’s a short article on why yelling at your player negatively is not the best course of action: www.momsteam.com/successful-parenting/yelling-from-the-sideline-can-be-emotional-abuse.

Lacrosse is an emotional game. I do not expect parents and fans to be robots on the sidelines. I want people to get into the flow of the game. To feel the excitement that is inherent in competitive sports. What I do not want is for any kid to get discouraged while playing the game because one or more individuals feels it is necessary to share their opinion with everyone at the game. Enjoy the game in a positive manner or stay silent.

Finally, I leave you with the following card from US Lacrosse:

Sportsmanship Card

Remember to honor the game with your actions anytime your team steps onto the field.

Featured Image Credit – www.mogosport.wordpress.com/category/youth-sports-parents/

Gordon Corsetti