Tag Archives: summer

Investing In Blowout Scores

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The summer tournament season is nearly over, and I, as usual, am grateful. The summer grinds on players, coaches, refs, parents, and organizers. There is a lot of travel, it’s freaking hot, and the days are long. With team fees, tournament fees, travel fees, hotel fees, and buying yet another tournament t-shirt the adults at tournaments easily throw down a few thousand dollars by the end of the summer. All of that money generates momentum to crushing less-skilled opponents by obscene scores. The more summer tournaments I officiate the more I see the pressure to win games by large margins, and it is because of a very adult idea: investing.

A few thousand dollars represents a decent investment for pretty much every working adult, and we have the adult idea that putting money down will result in a reward later on. Kids do not understand this no matter how often they are told. I didn’t fully understand the importance of money until I got my first utility bill – that brought a lesson my middle school history teacher Mrs. Woods expounded on in almost every class: “there is no such thing as a free lunch in this world.” The players want to play, and the fact that you put down money for them to play does not factor into their experience or drive their on-field performance. The monetary investment parents make in summer tournaments creates an incentive to reduce the risk of losing as much as possible by the adult coaches.

As an official, I experience my fair share of running time games during the regular season, and in nearly all of them by the time the goal differential is ten or twelve goals most of the starters are sitting on the bench. Typically the final score ends up something like 13-4, 12-5, or 15-10. The winning team is never in any real danger of losing the game. Contrast that to the common final scores I run into during the summer like 22-0, 18-1, and 17-2. Those are scores played with the mercy rule in effect where the losing team was at least six goals behind and got the ball in lieu of a face off. To hammer this point home consider these two situations I ran into this summer at the U11 age level:

  • Final Score 18-3: The winning team kept all the starters in (roughly 22 players on the team), and doubled the ball at the midfield when the losing team was given the ball at Center X. Most of the players on the losing team didn’t have a solid skill foundation, and each time I blew the ball in the losing team midfielder got stripped and watched his counterpart on the other team waltz past stationary defenders for a point-blank shot.
  • Final Score 17-2: I purposefully did not call a technical foul against the losing team. Their player released early from their penalty early in the 4th quarter and the winning team coach was beside himself that I would permit such a travesty. I had heard enough and told him I saw the early release, but was not going to make the call. To which he replied – “Goal differential is important in this tournament sir.” Now he had a legitimate point, but goal differential happened to be the third tiebreaker behind head-to-head and goals against. Sometimes it is the job of a youth official to save an adult coach from himself. Also, the ball had crossed to the other side of the field all of five times by the end of the game, and I was tired of watching the losing team goalkeeper getting shelled. I didn’t feel bad about ignoring that technical, and I still don’t.

Teams are silently, and not-so-silently, encouraged to run up the score whenever they can just so they don’t risk being on the losing end of a tiebreaker by the end of pool play. I see this consistently from U11 all the way to U19A division games over the summer. Every time I look over at the winning coaches and want to say – “Really? Does #12 really need to score seven goals? Is there no one else who can shoot on the bench?” It is possible to sub players out when the game is well in hand, or at the very least switch up the lefty attacker to the other side of the cage so he can practice shooting with his right hand.

I also get confused by the parents cheering for their team’s eighteenth goal just as hard as they did for the first goal – “Congratulations, your team can score against zero defensive pressure! This is a marvel to be celebrated!” To these parents I ask what is the greater accomplishment – scoring two natural hat tricks against a defense that cannot talk or move and a goalkeeper that is facing the wrong direction, or scoring two goals against a defense that slides well and a goalkeeper who tracks the ball?

When I played my coach had a rule for the starters and second stringers every game – do your job. Against lesser-skilled teams we had to go to work. Once we put up eight goals and shut down the opposing offense our job was done, and he subbed us out for the sophomores and freshman. We were never worried that we’d lose the game, but we also weren’t going to go out of our way to show our superiority. Beating a team by such wide margins is not a demonstration of skill – that was demonstrated when the winning team scored six goals in the first four minutes. Put in players that need more experience, slow down the offense a bit, and don’t do a ten man ride because it might be a good idea for your defense to see at least one settled possession before going up against a better team in bracket play.


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High Quality H20

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Humans need water. If your car needed fresh oil as regularly as your body needs water, you would get an oil change every day just to keep it running. Twice a day if you want it running well. An average person surviving in a moderate environment and not exerting himself, can expect to last three to five days before dying of dehydration. If you are exceptionally healthy, tack on an extra day. If it is hot, you will be hurting well before day three.

Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. The first measurable sign of dehydration is thirst. That’s right, if you are thirsty right now you are mildly dehydrated. The second measurable sign is urine color. Yellow urine is a sign of dehydration, and dark brown urine is a sign of serious dehydration. Athletes who participate in sports during the summer months should try to keep their urine color in the 1, 2, 3 range of clear to slightly yellow. This is a solid self-check to determine how hydrated your body is before playing a game in 95+ degree heat.

Urine Chart

Urine Chart

“It is not uncommon for athletes or soldiers to lose 2% to 5% of body weight during physical activity,6–9 and make up the short-term water deficit by drinking during rest periods and at meals” (Borden Institute). Two to five percent does not sound like a big deal. So long as an athlete is drinking water during rest they replenish the water lost through exercise. The trouble starts when the athlete forgets to drink because it only takes a little water loss to start showing symptoms of dehydration.

In a joint study, the US Army and Borden Institute state that “regardless of the specific process, water deficit or dehydration can reduce the ability of soldiers to perform mission-essential tasks in a timely and effective manner, thus increasing their likelihood of becoming medical casualties.” That boils down to: soldier doesn’t drink = solider doesn’t fight.

The study found that a 2-3% water loss leads to:

  • flushed skin
  • heat oppression (feeling heat is worse than it is)
  • weariness
  • sleepiness
  • impatience
  • anorexia

By four percent, individuals present with fatigued muscles, vomiting/nausea, and general apathy. At six percent the symptoms expand to:

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • tingling in limbs
  • very dry mouth
  • indistinct speech
  • inability to walk
32 Ounces of Water

32 Ounces of Water

All of these symptoms come at a faster rate in hot and humid climates. In fact, the daily water intake requirements for US soliders is roughly 5 Liters per day in temperate environments and up to 10 Liters per day in extremely hot environments.

  • 5 Liters = 179 Fluid Ounces = 5.5 Nalgene bottles of water per day.
  • 10 Liters = 358 Fluid Ounces = 11 Nalgene bottles of water per day.

That sounds like a lot of water to drink, but no one is doing it in one sitting. Soliders are required to sip water all day, every day. This constant hydration restores the water lost throughout the day without endangering the individual with hyponatremia.

I planned writing this post right before June for all of our players going to tournaments or summer camps, but I had to move it up because one of our own succumbed to serious dehydration this weekend. My friend and fellow lacrosse official Andy Halperin had four games to ref starting at 1:50pm.  By the third game, his partner injured his foot and Andy was left to officiate the game solo with the sun still hanging high.

The head official on site informed me of Andy’s plight and I rushed over to help. I got to the field and did not notice two early signs of dehydration coming from Andy. He was impatient to get the games going, and he was a bit apathetic. From the list above, he was probably around three to four percent dehydrated. We wrapped up the third game and prepared to get through the fourth. The field we were on was more sand than grass, and on nearly every play Andy and I were inhaling sand particles and dirt. To me this was a minor inconvenience, since I had drank water through the whole day, but Andy mentioned that he had not taken a water break since he started. The sun, sand, and heat were doing far more to him than they were too me, which is another symptom – heat oppression.

We ended the fourth game and slowly made our way back to the salvation of Coyote Tent City. Where there was water, gatorade, and a delightful assortment of fruits. I started downing Gatorade while Andy mentioned that his legs were cramping up. He drank up and everyone thought the cramps would subside. We packed up, said our goodbyes, and headed to the hotel. Andy went back to his car and his muscles seized up. He couldn’t make his legs climb into the car or make his hand grasp his cellphone. Fortunately, a trainer was nearby and noticed Andy’s serious condition. Using his phone, they called my dad to come pick Andy up and take him to the hospital. He arrived shortly, but Andy was in even worse shape so 911 was called and an ambulance got dispatched to the park.

Andy was taken to the local ER and pumped full of fluids and electrolytes. The doctors informed him and my dad that if the ambulance hadn’t picked him up and started treatment, that Andy would have spent a few days in the ICU recuperating. The quick response from the EMTs and the care of the doctors kept Andy from having to stay overnight, but his muscle cramps were so severe that he tore his calf muscle.

Fortunately for the AYL community, Andy is going recover, but why did he buckle to dehydration? He focused so much on officiating the games that he forgot to keep drinking water. This is both admirable and foolhardy. Admirable that he directs all of his attention to the field when he officiates, but foolhardy that he did not leave a little bit of attention for himself.

So to all players, learn from Andy’s misfortune and remember to drink regularly before the big tournament weekend. Then continue to drink water or a sports drink throughout the day. Oh, this applies to parents on the sidelines too. Water requirements for people “performing primarily sedentary activities can increase from approximately 2 to 3 L/d to 5 L/d” (Borden Institute). That equals about three to five nalgene bottles just for cheering on the sidelines.

Featured Image Credit – www.themoviedb.org

Drink Up,