Submitted 4-20-2009 By Dennis Stewart - Director Operations, TripleEdge Lacrosse.
Good Call, Bad Call, A Call is a Call
In watching games this weekend, I saw a lot of coaches and players react badly to calls that they didn’t agree with. I think in every game there are about ten calls that could go either way during play. When you really take the time to look at it, for the most part they are all going to even out. We have to fight the urge to react poorly to the calls that go against us and our teams. I know this; I didn’t see ANYONE over react to a questionable call that went in their favor! Here is what I DID see. I saw several additional delay of game penalties for balls being rolled or tossed after calls. I observed players gesturing and looking to officials while play was going on. I watched teams and coaches not prepared to ride or to play defense while they reacted strongly to a call against their squad. When I was young, I contested EVERY call, STRONGLY. I had to learn that my players and I weren’t going to get the call reversed. I was only making the official less likely to want to see things my way. Letting a call go and moving on is NOT a natural behavior, it has to be learned. Just like the other skills of lacrosse it has to be practiced. How can we teach ourselves to do this, and in turn, teach it to our players? We have to prepare ourselves for every game situation that may arise, and dealing with calls; good, bad, indifferent is surely a facet of the game we can control.
“Coaches Rules” in Effect
When you scrimmage and play at practice you should ALWAYS have a purpose and guidelines. When penalties occur, make sure you players see the penalties and know that they are occurring. If your team is fouling too much, maybe 5 or 10 quick pushups serve as a good, quick reminder. If the whole team does them this promotes peer pressure to play without fouling. This goes for offensive penalties such as warding off, moving picks, and crease violations. Slashing, pushing, interference should be pointed out along with illegal body checks on the defense. Consistently identify when these violations take place.
Make sure your team and players are prepared to move on. Get your defense ready to play quickly if a defensive loose ball foul occurs. If the violation is against the offense, and results in a turnover, make them hustle to get prepared to ride the ball. The team receiving the ball should see how quickly they can get the ball ready to put back into play.
Play sudden victory one goal scrimmages, or keep score between the offense and the defense. Play for push ups or for runs. Teach your players that bad calls may happen, and are a part of the game. Call anything that looks close. If you want, stack the deck; make calls that may not have happened. We call this “Coaches’ Rules.” You are the man in charge of the scrimmage. You will have one or two players who may be more likely to react poorly to a call. Call EVERYTHING on these players! Make sure all of your players learn to hustle on to the next phase of the game.
If you learn to get past calls you don’t agree with you could even end up getting an advantage over your opponents. Get set quickly on defense. Have your ride ready. Get the ball picked up and waiting for the official to run your settled offense of your clear.
This ALSO teaches your charges sportsmanship. Players learn to respond to things that they can control, and to let go of things they have no control over. It’s a GREAT life lesson to point out to your players and your other coaches. I’d love to hear your feedback on this tip and any suggestions for Coaches Tips in the future. You can always email me
Director of Operations