The Value of a Pre-Game Conference

For most lacrosse officials, you arrive at the field twenty minutes before the game.  It is imperative that you and your crew get on the same page quickly. A  well officiated lacrosse game is managed by a team of officials, not two or three individuals doing their own thing.  The two things that hold a crew together are solid mechanics and communication.  I am a sheet guy.  I hand out a printed pre-game to my crew that covers everything I want to review.

A pre-game should be a well organized, serious discussion led by the Referee. All members of the crew should participate.  This is a great time for younger, less experienced officials to really learn how to prepare for and manage a game. The number of contests the officials have worked together should have little bearing on whether or not you hold the pre-game, nor should it be dismissed as the season progresses.  On the contrary, the pre-game needs to be longer and more focused as the games become more meaningful.

Keys to Success

I tailor my pre-game depending on the crew I am working with and the game I am about to officiate.  I might go into great detail, highlight or just briefly mention some some of these situations. But in all cases, I cover my four keys to success:

  1. Communicate Effectively with your Partner, Table, Coaches & Players
  2. Be in the Right Spot
  3. Focus on Your Keys
  4. Hustle, but Don’t rush

Communicate Effectively

Not only are you expected to communicate with your partner, but it is essential that the players, coaches, and the spectators understand your call. As the Trail relaying a penalty, be sure to do it right!  Any signal that is given is worth giving correctly.remember, you are speaking for the entire crew.

  • Make sure your crew knows what the penalty is so they can prepare the field for play.
  • Move to where the table can see you. Stand still.
  • Pause. Think about what you want to say and do.
  • CNOTE! (Color Number, Offense, Explanation)
  • Big strong clear signals.
  • Speak loudly and clearly.
  • Repeat yourself.

Do not rush. The clock is stopped, so no time will be wasted. Slow down.

Other areas to focus on are: Make sure no one goes through a stop sign on restarts.  Hold your direction signal on out of bounds plays as your partner is probably off ball.  Work together on deep restarts.  Dead ball officiating is a major part of my pre-game. This is an important time to gather together and reassess where you are in the game while KEEPING AN EYE on the players.  It is not a time to loose focus.

Be in the Right Spot: 

Lead is on GLE working in and out.  Cover the end line on shots and contested plays. Trail is at the top of the box 5 yards in and 5 yards out.  Help on crease if lead moves to endline. New lead goes to the cone at mid line on slow clears, gets to goal on fast breaks and Gillmans.  On plays on the sideline, get to the line.  Nothing sells your call like being in the right spot!

Focus on your keys

Each official must focus on  his or her keys and trust his partner to cover theirs.  Understanding  who is the on ball  and official and off ball official is paramount.  Do not “ball watch”, focus on your keys !e.g. Lead has goal and Trail has shooter. Lead should not throw a flag on a late hit.  His or her job is the goal or the endline. Many officials work under the misconception that when both throw flags for the same foul, they got it right. With but few exceptions, nothing could be further from the truth! If both officials are looking at the ball who is looking at the other players!

Hustle, but Don’t Rush

There is an old lacrosse  officials saying, “it is fast game, not a rushed game.” When you  hustle, you show all that you are focused and engaged.  When you are not, people assume you are uninterested, lazy, confused or out of shape. remember, hustling does not always mean running.  It means moving with purpose.  get to where you need to be, know what needs to be done next, be ready, and be focused!

Hustling keeps the game moving.  A pet peeve of mine is dawdling on face offs.  Both officials need to the get to their spots.  Wing starts the timer; both officials write the score down and we get the face off started. Similarly, on penalties, the Lead should have the field ready for play as as soon as the Trail has finished reporting the penalty. You should never not know where the ball is on a man up restart!

If you focus on these four keys to success, you will work better as a crew and manage your games more effectively.

Feel free to download a copy of the pre-game sheet I use. It has all four major points, and the 2014 POEs, as well as a field diagram on the back to review any situation that might come up.

For youth games I use this youth pre-game with key points to cover with junior officials and the US Lacrosse age specific rules on the back.

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