Tag Archives: teams

Cannot Fill The Wing Anymore

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new rules for 2014

One rule change I am particularly happy about is that teams cannot put an attackman or defenseman on the open wing during a man-down face off. Otherwise known as “filling” the wing, that attackman or defenseman was known to officials as the hot man because we needed to identify the player who was behind the midline on the whistle to start the face off.

I hated the old rule for two reasons. One, a team committed a foul forcing them to play six on five during a settled possession, but if the foul was non-releasable and a goal was scored then the next face off was three on three with the filled wing. Two, this situation took forever for most youth teams to figure out. Here is what I heard most times a man-down face off was pending in a youth game:

“#16, #16! Mark! Mark I want you on the wing line! I know you’re an attackman, but I need you to fill the wing. Yes, you can come out of the box. No, not that wing! Go to the far wing! Not on that side of the field, go to the other side of the field! Phew, okay ref thanks for letting me take care of that.”

In youth games I was a little flexible the first time or two this happened early in the season because it was a peculiar situation for youth teams to get down. Fortunately I don’t have to worry this year as this situation is completely gone for 2014 and here is the diagram to show how it’s going to go down:

 man-down-face-off

The above image shows two teams properly set up for a man-down face off using 2014 rules. The red midfielder in the box is serving a non-releasable penalty and blue scored a goal. The officials set up the face off, but the red midfielder is still in the penalty box for the non-releasable penalty. No red attackman or defenseman is permitted to fill the open wing on the bench side of the field. The face off is conducted with three blue midfielders and two red midfielders.

Also notice the upper right corner of the diagram. The red attackman is outside of the box but below the restraining line. This is completely legal. The players are not locked into the box to start the face off. They are locked behind the restraining line until “possession” is called or the ball crosses the restraining line while loose (in that situation the officials will shout “play,” which releases all players).

Major Point On Releasing Penalties During A Man-Down Face Off:

When one or more players are in the penalty box during a man-down face off they are not released until possession is called or the ball crosses the restraining lines and the officials yell “play.” If the red player above has 3-seconds on his penalty and the face off battle lasts for 25 seconds before possession is gained then the red player in the box will spend an additional 22 seconds in the penalty box even though his time has expired.

This is a safety issue for the players trying to gain possession. If this rule didn’t exist then the red player could be released during the face off battle, run out of the box, and level an unexpected body check at a player who is trying to pick up the ball near the penalty box. Look at it this way – if you are not on the wing lines or taking the face you don’t get to participate in the face off until possession is declared or the ball crosses the restraining lines and the officials call “play.”

This rule change makes man-down face offs easier to officiate and easier to coach, but it does mean that live-ball personal fouls and non-releasable fouls carry into the face off. That gives those penalties more teeth as the team who is in the penalty box is always playing man-down no matter what the situation.

Cheers,
Gordon

The Crippling Effect Of High Self-Esteem

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self-esteem

When I started elementary school two major things were developing in the world. Coming home from school one day I discovered that the family computer now had an internet connection. That was the more obvious change. The change that took me many years to see was that high self-esteem for children was slowly gaining greater importance than teaching children to deal with disappointment and strive to be better. The idea is that increased self esteem leads to greater achievement because the individual should feel better about themselves. Having worked with young kids for the past 10 years, I consider putting high self-esteem before achievement one of the worst wide-ranging social experiments for developing children.

The dictionary definition of self-esteem is “a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities.” I believe we should teach young kids to have respect for themselves as a unique individual, but the second part of the definition is where I’ve seen problems. The idea that I should feel good about my abilities in anything despite solid evidence to the contrary confuses me. This idea filtered into sports with the “everyone gets a trophy” idea. Even if a player was terrible they got a trophy! Most of the average and below average players kept getting trophies until realizing at an older age that they were not very skilled.

I scored a goal against my own team in my soccer league when I was 5. It was the last game of the season and I got turned around on the field. I tore through my teammates as they stood wondering what I was doing and kicked the ball into the net. My parents told me that I was so excited to score my first goal that none of the coaches or parents had the heart to tell me that I sealed my team’s loss. I got a trophy, but I was 5. I barely knew what sport I was playing, and I definitely didn’t know which direction to run to. This had little to no effect on me. I kept playing soccer, tried baseball and swim team, but eventually landed on lacrosse as my go to sport.

I have no problem giving trophies to kids U9 and below for participating for a whole season. I think committing to a full season of their chosen sport is a good lesson for little kids to learn, and a trophy for showing up is good positive reinforcement. Above U9 is an entirely different story.

U11, U13, and U15 kids know who is good, who is okay, and who is bad. Giving trophies to every kid at the end of the season cheapens their knowledge that one team is definitely the best, and some players are better than others. This is not to say that little Johnny is a better person than little Timmy, but that little Jimmy is a better lacrosse player than little Timmy.

Trevor Tierney recently posted “The ‘Best Team’ May Not Be What Is Best For Our Kids” on his blog. He asserts that adults should not rush to create the “best” or most dominate team in an area simply so their players can have the best winning percentage. This is best illustrated by the fracturing of select travel teams at every age level in Georgia. In 2005-2006 there was exactly one travel team in Georgia, but that was a function of the times. As the sport grew it made more sense for there to be travel teams based off geographic location so players didn’t have to travel 2 1/2 hours just to practice. Unfortunately, the drive to give kids better self-esteem through cheap wins has diluted Georgia travel teams (also travel teams across the nation. This is not a one-state phenomena).

Some parents got frustrated when their player’s travel team didn’t post enough wins or hoist a plastic tournament trophy. So splinter groups formed and kids who had years of playing experience were loaded onto teams and scheduled in “B” division tournaments while their worst player could start on any “A” division team in the state. Predicable scored followed: 22-0, 15-3, 25-5 game scores started cropping up more and more in the various youth games I officiated over the course of a year. The parents did this for two reasons: One, the parents wanted to be a part of a winning culture as soon as possible and without putting in the years of effort it takes to get to that point. Two, parents wanted their kids to feel good, which means winning games, and what better way is there than stacking a bunch of U13 players together to play against kids who just learned how to hold a the lacrosse stick? I’ve reffed these games, and it is more than a little demoralizing to watch.

These parents miss the point of athletics. There are times when when one team is going to dominate another. My old high school Pace used to crush some teams. We considered those games “taking care of business,” not “business as usual,” and our coach regularly worked the less experienced players into those games. I rarely enjoyed those blowout victories. Sure they were fun, but the pride in the win didn’t stick around for long. Oddly enough, I have more positive memories from our loses to Westminster in my three years at Pace. My senior year I remember losing to Westminster 4-3, or 5-4. More importantly to me was that both teams came to play and it was one of my best performances as a player I ever had. We lost, but it didn’t destroy my self-esteem. I was more proud of how my teammates and I played in that loss than how I played in every blowout victory my team had that year.

Trevor’s final sentences from his post state: “Instead of finding a better team to play on, find a way to make your team better. This is how you can truly learn to win something of lasting value through the sports.” I have learned far more from losing games than winning them. Most players will have blowout victories at some point in their careers, but the win matters far less than the road to get there. Consider that Peyton Manning currently has an 11-11 playoff record. He is mathematically average in the playoffs, but I would challenge anyone out there to say he is not one of the greatest QB’s of all time (and don’t tell me that he left to another team. Archie didn’t trade him to the Broncos so that argument is moot!). The way he plays the game is more important than his ultimate win/loss record. That is a lesson all adults in youth sports should take to heart.

If you want your child to play a youth sport so they can win lots of games you will always be disappointed because there is always another team out there with more wins. Find a program near you that you like and don’t leave just because the team doesn’t win enough games. Is your kid improving? Is your kid having fun? Those are the questions you should ask yourself when thinking about moving to another team.

As a coach, I want a player who has experienced losing. I don’t like spending time teaching a U15 player who lost a close game that the world hasn’t ended. We all want to win, but losing is a part of life so it is definitely going to be a part of your kids playing experience. If you want to build their self-esteem by seeking out the dominate team two hours away so they can never lose then I say you are crippling your child because they will lose in the future and they won’t have losing experiences from childhood sports where they learned how to deal with it.

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