NFHS & US Lacrosse Youth Tests Online!

Unfortunately there have been a number of issues with the US Lacrosse tests being housed on the Arbiter website. We have placed both online tests to the ALO website  and will handle sending passing scores to US Lacrosse while they figure out their technical issues. Continue reading

“You’re Biased!”

Few things piss me off more than an assault on my integrity, but as an official it’s inevitable that a person or group of people will send a comment my way that hurts. The second year of officiating high school lacrosse was the hardest year for me. I was getting more varsity game assignments, and while I wasn’t completely out of my depth, I was definitely treading water in the deep end. I showed this in my very defensive demeanor with coaches and players. No smiling, no engagement, no explanations. If coaches questioned or threw a verbal barb my way they found their in-home kneeling next to them before they realized what happened. I was an official, but I didn’t own the stripes.

A while ago I reffed two games three weeks apart that demonstrate how people really don’t pay much attention to the officials when things are going their way, and shows to new youth and adult officials that these comments aren’t all that powerful if you understand the source.

The first game was a blowout. There was an average number of flags and two conduct fouls on the winning team that turned the ball over, but nothing wild or crazy happened. The better team won by about fourteen goals, we had a running clock in the 2nd half, and the game wrapped up without incident. My partner and I were practically invisible, and I was able to get a few laughs from the players facing off (the game was that low-key).

In the second game a few weeks later I was officiating the team that had blown the doors of their opponents earlier, but this time they were facing a more skilled team and the final score was reversed with them on the losing side with a running clock in the 2nd half. There was one high hit called on the winning team, and several conducts and eventually worked up to USCs on the losing team as they began to lose composure.

In the three weeks between those two games I am quite certain I did not forget how to officiate. I approached both games in the same manner. Dressed for it as I always do. Pre-gamed with my sheet as I always do. In short, I did not change but the game was different and the losing team needed a scapegoat. So a few of their players started making their displeasure known about a few of the crew’s calls.

In year two I would have taken those comments from players and coaches that I was biased, or I sucked, or I needed to read the rulebook far harder than I do now. I flagged what needed to be flagged during both games. I was invisible in the first game, but I was the worst ref in the world  in the second because the losing team was down by fifteen. Insulting comments are not personal, and I needed a few years to understand that people really are yelling at the stripes. To speed up my development I started reading books on officiating, but I also tried to find resources on managing crazy people in other professions. Unsurprisingly, I found a great deal of useful information from 101 Useful Tips on How to be a Bouncer. The tips focus on how to de-escalate potentially violent situations by being calm and not immediately reacting to the poor behavior of wild, drunk people.

If you are a thinking about starting to officiate lacrosse as a youth or adult official I highly encourage you to dive on in! Study the rulebook, learn the mechanics, and find a mentor, but take an honest stock of how you react to mean-spirited comments. Do you react with hostility or aggression? Do you internalize verbal attacks until you blow up from holding it in? Letting comments said to you in anger, confusion, or frustration slide off your back is a learned skill. It takes time, but you can learn how to do it if you know the way you are primed to react to those verbal attacks.

Think of the stripes as armor. I used to go out onto the field weighed down by the black and white. It took a few years, but now I own my stripes and when I put them on my mind is prepared to take a few insults with good cheer and a flag when they really go over the line.


10 Tips for Better Game Management

As an official you have three responsibilities: keep the game safe, keep the game fair and to act in a professional manner.  The difficult part comes when you make a necessary and appropriate safety or fairness call and one sideline rants and raves. Maintaining your cool when the crowd is booing, players are grumbling and coaches are complaining is not easy. Knowing the rules, being in the right spot, looking professional are all well and good, but what you need in these situations are solid game management skills.  Here are ten tips to help you to better manage a game: Be professional, in the right spot, focused, quiet, open, calm, brief, quick, humble and in control.

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Summer New Officials & Re-certification Class Date & Time TBD

ALO plans to hold a new officials class as well as a re-certification class at the end of the 2014 season.  Dates and times to be announced. Please check back for details.   Continue reading

Mental Prep Work

I think officiating boils down to one major attribute: the ability to stay focused for an extended period of time. The youth officials I’ve trained laugh when I tell them that they are getting paid to pay attention, but that is an accurate observation about what officiating is. I’ve been in games where I mentally blinked, or started daydreaming and suddenly I’ve got a player moaning on the ground with no clue how he got there. I felt bad knowing that I probably missed a major safety violation because I was not paying attention to the game in front of me. After evaluating how I lost my focus I concluded that my game preparation contributed to my hazy mental state in the game, and I resolved to find a way to get focused as an official.

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Two Field Training Opportunities 3/23

ALO will be holding a field training on Sunday March 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm and 4 pm at the new North Atlanta High School  4111 Northside Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30327.

There are3 spots remaining for the 2:30 game.

There are 4 spots remaining for the 4 pm game.

This field training is available only to those who completed the training class in Decatur on January 19 who have completed their online test and webinar.

Please email me at to reserve your spot.

First come, first served.