Gordon Corsetti | @atlantayouthlax
This is a guest post from Gordon Corsetti, a lacrosse official in the Atlanta area. Visit the Atlanta Youth Lacrosse blog for more words of wisdom from Gordon.
Grow the Game With Class and Respect
I like well-behaved parents, because I have been around a lot of ill-behaved ones.
In nearly every youth game that I have officiated there has been at least one—and usually more—fans screaming instructions to their player or entire team from the sideline. Often, it is incredibly poor advice. These are the same individuals who yell when their son or daughter is taken off the field, openly criticize the officials, and generally know next to nothing about how lacrosse is played.
I believe that there would be no problems on the sideline if fans approached the game with the goal of contributing to a positive sporting atmosphere. Unfortunately, there tends to be a minority of people that willfully ignore that idea, all the while believing that their yelling is somehow helping their team.
Here’s a hint: You aren’t helping.
Take, for example, the parent that yells “shoot!” when a player is twenty yards away from the goal. It accomplishes nothing more than getting the player amped up to take a shot.
My personal favorite is when the head coach is yelling “hold the ball” and all the parents are yelling “shoot!” More often than not, the player will listen to the voice of their mother or father and take an ill-advised shot. Meanwhile, their coach has his head buried in his hands, wondering if there is enough duct tape to put over the mouths of his team’s fans.
Keep this in mind: Your player recognizes your voice whenever you yell something during the game. I played in some very competitive high school games, and my father attended many of them. I could always recognize his voice from the stands.
The kicker is, he never said anything more than “Go, Gordon!” A coach with more than thirty years of experience in lacrosse, and not once did he give me advice from the sideline. He knew his role was to root for me when I did well and encourage me when things turned rough.
I was never embarrassed by my father’s comments from the sidelines. However, I have on numerous occasions been embarrassed for some of my teammates and players whose parents who thought their role was to assist the coaches from the stands.
So how do you yell when watching from the sideline? The easiest way to do this is to limit yourself to a few general phrases:
- “Go, (insert player name here)!”
- “Great play!”
- “Awesome defense!”
- “Stay strong!”
- “Keep playing hard!”
If you limit yourself to general statements about your player and your team, you don’t run afoul of the coach trying to do his job of running the offense or defense. Also, you can never get into the problem of giving bad advice to your player at a critical moment during a game. Plus, all of those phrases are extremely positive.
Avoid yelling anything negative. Here are a few negative comments I have heard during games over the years:
- “Put him in a body bag!” Heard this during a U11 game and was stunned speechless.
- “Destroy him!” Would you want that yelled at your child?
- “Wake up!” Accomplishes nothing more that getting the player nervous.
- “That was the worst call I’ve ever seen!” Makes the head coach’s job more difficult and sets a bad example for all the players.
If what you are about to yell isn’t positive, it’s best to swallow your comment. MomsTeam.com also published a short article on why yelling at your player negatively is not the best course of action.
Lacrosse is an emotional game. I don’t expect parents and fans to be robots on the sidelines. I want people to get into the flow of the game and feel the excitement that is inherent in competitive sports.
What I don’t want is for a kid to get discouraged while playing lacrosse because someone feels it is necessary to share their opinion with everyone at the game. Enjoy the game in a positive manner or stay silent.
Finally, I leave you with these talking points for honoring the ROOTS of the game, from Positive Coaching Alliance.
Remember to honor the game with your actions anytime your team steps onto the field.
Gordon is a born lacrosse official who played for ten years before realizing he'd much rather ref the game than play it. He lives in Atlanta and officiates youth, high school, and collegiate men's lacrosse games all over the southeast. His passion is educating and training officials, coaches, players, parents and all other fans on the rules of lacrosse, the sport’s history, and how best to develop lacrosse in new areas. Contact Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming to US Lacrosse members’ mailboxes this week: As lacrosse explodes nationally, parents encounter more questions than answers. In the March issue, Lacrosse Magazine consulted some of the sport’s brightest minds and most respected leaders and came away with seven keys to a positive experience.
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