Category Archives: Improvement

Family of Fouls: Using Scaffolding to Teach Penalties to New Officials

lostThere is an old joke among refs about the three stages a young official goes through during the course of his career.   In the first stage, the rookie is nervous, not sure of where they are supposed to be on the field, unaccustomed to the speed of the game and terrified of making a mistake.  So, they call nothing.  A player could be decapitated in front of them and they would be loath to throw a flag.  After a year of working games and time spent diligently reading the rule book, the young official thinks he or she has “figured it out,” Comfortable recognizing fouls, they call everything! Hey that’s illegal: flag!  Oooh, another penalty: flag! Can’t do that: flag! Finally, after a few seasons and numerous discussions with trainers and mentors, the official “gets it” and begins to understand how level of play, type of game, time and place factor in the decision making process on whether or not to call a foul and what to call. They develop what we call game management.

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The Ball Will Distract You

I vividly remember one particular clear during the 2012 Vail Shootout while I was officiating at the LAREDO 3 clinic. I had reached the far cone as the single side official after starting my timer when the new trail official signaled reset once the goalie made a save. My feet were ready to take me down the other half of the field at a moment’s notice and I was focused on the clear coming towards midfield. All of a sudden the goalkeeper noticed his attackman on the far side was wide open and he launched the ball towards his teammate. I tracked the ball as it flew through the air and before it reached it’s apex I heard:

“You’re ball-watching!”

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Adjusting After Being Told You’re Wrong

I never considered myself a rules guy until other officials started asking me rules questions. Many of the questions I was asked made me dig into the rulebook even further, which helped enhance my knowledge of the rulebook. I did not become knowledgable on lacrosse rules by just studying the rulebook though. I learned a painful lesson early on in my career that it pays dividends down the road to accept when I am completely wrong on a rule.

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“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.

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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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