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Four Steps to Becoming a Lacrosse Official

February 9, 2016    9567 Views

By Gordon Corsetti | @USLacrosse

Lacrosse Official Photo

Spencer Herlong

"Where do you find such a person: A man or woman involved in a game who has the authority of a sea captain, the discretion of a judge, the strength of a hunter, the courage of a soldier, the patience of a saint and the stoicism to withstand the abuse of the grandstand, the tension of overtime, the invective of a player and the pain of a ball ricocheting off their body? This person must be a tough character, with endurance and the ability to keep their temper and self-control, they must be unimpeachably honest, courteous, impartial, and firm, and they must compel respect from everyone!"

- Adopted from original quote by Branch Rickey.

I adjusted Branch Rickey’s quote for men’s and women’s game officials because it is a great description of officials that epitomizes the intangibles that great officials have. It's also a powerful comment on how difficult it is to officiate, and how noble the profession is when approached with the right attitude.

Lacrosse official’s organizations (LOO's) in the men's and women's games across the country are always looking for new officials. Data shows that lacrosse grows at a pace that far outstrips the ability of organizations to cover game assignments. This means that the newest officials are often put on games together, or the most experienced officials are put on a grueling schedule of back-to-back games every week until they block their schedule.

Officials are needed. Those that played or coached the game are at a distinct advantage because they understand the game and how it is supposed to flow. They just need to be taught the rules and how to approach the game from an official's perspective. Those that officiate other sports and want to start officiating lacrosse benefit from knowing how to manage a game, and need to be taught the intricacies of lacrosse.

Those that have never played the game or officiated another sport are also welcome. You'll have the toughest climb because you don't know lacrosse or officiating but with persistence and a few good mentors we’ve seen many uncertain officials mature into strong, capable officials.

The biggest obstacle to those interested in officiating is they have no idea where to start. Below is a short roadmap with the information you need to start your officiating journey.

Step 1 - Do you really want to do this?

Whether you are looking to give back to the game, get more exercise, or make a few extra bucks you need to actually want to do this. Otherwise you won't stick around past the first year. We need those in for the long haul so evaluate why you want to officiate first because you are not going to be a great official on day one.

Step 2 - Find your Local Board Chair or Sub-District Coordinator

LB's and SDC's are tremendous volunteers for US Lacrosse and they work in tandem with Local Official’s Organizations. You should contact the closest person or persons to where you live to inquire about upcoming training classes. Most training classes are conducted in January and February, but many LOO's are moving to fall classes for new officials to take advantage of available fall ball games for training purposes.

Local Board Chair listing - Women’s Officials

Sub-District Coordinator listing - Men’s Officials

Step 3 - Prepare for class

There is a stunning amount of information to absorb and comprehend, and you're not going to get everything down pat after your first class. You can cut the learning curve down a great deal by reading a rule a night (boys / girls), watching the current season's rule interpretation videos (boys / girls), and reading officiating articles on the US Lacrosse Central Hub.

Your LOO’s trainer will help you with where to get officiating uniforms, and the other equipment needed to officiate a lacrosse game.

Step 4 - Get game reps!

No amount of training can replace game experience. You need game repetitions; preferably at the youth level under the guidance of a more experienced official to help you. The game will be incredibly fast to you, even at the U11 level and you will find yourself looking in the wrong areas, blowing the whistle incorrectly, and watching players commit fouls while thinking to yourself, “wow that was pretty bad I hope the official calls it.” Then you will realize you are the official! Don’t worry, this happens to everyone starting off but if you stick with it you’ll find yourself among truly great company with fellow officials who all share a passion for lacrosse.

Have other questions about officiating? Contact officials@uslacrosse.org or comment below.



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