Yesterday I promised to dig into how to coach with the new 2014 rules that will most effect youth teams. I think one of the biggest hurdles for youth coaches this season will be handling the new substitution rules.
Coaches and players in U13 and U15 youth divisions across the country need to start planning how to substitute without the use of the sideline horn. My old post, “When Can I Call For A Horn?” is somewhat outdated with the new 2014 High School and Boys Youth Lacrosse rules.
Rule 4-22 in the 2014 NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rulebook now states: “All substitutions during play will be ‘on the fly.’ Coaches will no longer be able to request a horn for a ball out of bounds on the sideline. Teams may substitute freely when play is suspended for end of a period, goal, time-out and after a time-serving penalty.” That means there is no more calling for a horn when the ball goes out of bounds along the sideline during a game. With the exception of subbing at the end of a period, goal, time-out, or a time-serving penalty, all other substitutions is through the box while “on the fly.”
I specified that U13 and U15 players have to get used to this because this rule will always be enforced at these age levels if a league or tournament is following USL Boys Youth Rules. U9 and U11 teams may or may not have horns during a game depending on what their league says according to this rule note:
“US Lacrosse Youth Rules NOTE—U9 & U11 Horn Substitution Option: For U9 and/or U11 play, Leagues may authorize substitutions when play has been suspended by the officials after the ball has gone out of bounds on the sidelines. For such substitutions, the timer shall sound a horn upon the request of a coach indicating to the officials that a substitution is desired. All other rules with respect to substitutions during suspension of play shall apply.”
Just to be clear:
- U13 and U15 – No Horns
- U9 and U11 – There can be horns only if the league the teams are playing in decides to use them for these age levels.
This rule change was designed to speed up the game, but the unintended consequence is now many coaches are going to have an additional headache trying to sub players on the fly. Before you could remember: “Ball out on the sideline means I can call a horn and get my players switched off.” Most subs at the youth level happen every 4-6 minutes in a quarter or half, and ball goes out of bounds frequently enough at the youth level that most coaches could anticipate being able to sub according to their stopwatch. Which means it is time to get away from the stopwatch crutch and start getting into the flow of the game.
Here are some simple rules to live by now that horns are no more:
- 3 full-field sprints maximum for youth midfielders. Quick transitions happen all the time in youth lacrosse due to poor passes or just chucking the ball up the field. Your assistant coach with the stopwatch last year should now be focused on how many times your midfielders have run the length of the field, and how tired each midfielder is individually. This is where it pays to have the player’s names on the front and back of their helmet early in the season, until you can recall their names.
- 5-6 minutes for attackmen and defenseman. I think this rule of thumb still holds true. Remember you still get to do whole-sale substitution of players after goals, after time outs, and after time serving penalties are reported.
- Don’t sub on defense. This is a lesson youth players need to learn because it is practically a commandment at higher levels of play. Subbing on defense is a cardinal sin. If one of your players is so tired that he needs to come out while on defense, then tell that player to stay in front of the crease. He won’t be much help defensively because he is tired, but at least he is clogging up the crease area with his body. Once the ball transitions over to the other side of the field then get the player off through the sub box “on the fly.”
- Please don’t yell for a horn. Okay, this is a selfish request as an official. There were early college games I did last season and the coaches were screaming for a horn until I told them the horn was removed (college got rid of the horn in 2013). I understand the occasional slip up, but if you are the home team make your table personnel’s life easier by putting the horn on the ground. That way an overanxious mom or dad won’t blow the horn when a mistaken coach yells for it on a ball out of bounds along the sideline. You still need a horn to signal end of periods, and to double-toot the horn if there is an issue that the referees need to address.
This is going to take some getting use to for everyone involved. Be patient in your early games and work on noticing when your players are tired and get them off the field through the box as soon as possible. Next post will be how to effectively use the new 20-yard wide substitution box!