One of the pillars of game management in lacrosse officiating is a concept known as the ramp. This is an escalating series of penalties, starting with a verbal warning and ending with an ejection.

Say you’re the trail official, jogging up the field, checking to make sure both teams are onside. An assistant coach is in your ear, giving you all sorts of reasons why you’re the worst ref in the world. That comes with the territory. But each official has a threshold of what he will allow a coach to say.

Use the ramp. (With extreme offenses, jump right to step four.)

1. Verbal warning

If it’s an assistant coach who’s too teed up, go up to the head coach and say calmly, “Coach, please get your assistant coach under control, or I will have to.’ That is your verbal warning.

2. Loose-ball conduct foul

The angry coach has not gotten the hint from the head coach that he needs to calm down, and he continues to bicker. You have the option now of blowing the whistle when his team has possession, assessing a conduct foul and giving the ball to the other team.

3. Conduct foul

If the coach still doesn’t get the hint, call a conduct foul while the other team has possession of the ball. Wait until the other team picks up the ball, throw a flag and create a flag-down, slow-whistle situation. When it ends, assess a conduct foul, a 30-second technical. Now you’ve put a player in the box, and we’re 6-on-5 because the assistant coach could not control what was coming out of his mouth.

4. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

And it continues. And he gets more personal with his attacks. Now it’s time to come up with the unsportsmanlike conduct, or the “full bird.” You put a player in the box for one to three minutes. Ideally you want to start with one minute, and that gives us more wiggle room if the coach decides to get more vociferous with his comments.

5. Ejection

Step five is the nuclear option. We don’t want to get to step five if we can help it. But you’ve given the coach four opportunities to correct his behavior, and he hasn’t done anything. It’s time to eject him from the game, with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed to the team.

What tactics have you used to deal with angry coaches during a game? Share your stories in the comments section.

Gordon Corsetti is the officials education manager at US Lacrosse.

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