Brian Abbott is one of the top men’s lacrosse officials in the nation, having worked multiple NCAA championship weekend games in recent years. He also serves as a game official in Major League Lacrosse, and on occasion, will also work boys’ high school games.

Regardless of the level of play, Abbott pinpoints the officials’ pre-game routine as being one of the most important factors in being able to call a good game. 

In this 2016 webinar, available for free viewing to US Lacrosse members on the elearning site, Abbott discussed the importance of a solid pre-game as the cornerstone of the crew getting the call right at the critical moment of the game, and being able to focus and officiate after the "big" call is made. 

Abbott details his pre-game preparations and how he approaches making calls on some of the biggest stages that men’s lacrosse has to offer. Some of his key points include:

• Training & Fitness Are Important

Abbott encourages all officials to work and watch as many games as possible. He encourages officials to get in good physical shape to referee, and not referee to get in shape. Working and watching games exposes officials to all of the various situations that can arise. 

• The Rules Are Your Foundation

Knowing the rules and being able to quote them, verbatim, is critically important to being a good official. Abbott says that discussing and reviewing game situations with other officials can help an official to stay sharp and to become a rules expert. He also encourages officials who work at different levels of play (ie-NCAA vs. NFHS) to clearly understand the differences in rules.

• Mechanics Are One of the Pillars – Adhere to Them

Abbott says that it’s pretty hard for a coach to complain about a call if the official was in the right position. He notes that it’s especially important for officials to understand positioning needs in unsettled situations. Knowing team tendencies, based in part on advance preparation, can help an official to properly anticipate plays.

• Pre-Game is Fundamental

Abbott begins his pre-game well before arriving at the game site. He reaches out to his game partners in advance and also scouts the participating teams through available game video or by contacting officials who have worked prior games involving the teams. Upon arrival, always check the field; is there anything glaring that needs to be fixed? Address any incorrect markings in advance. Abbott tries to keep the coaches certification as short as possible, focusing on a couple of key points. He reminds officials not to swallow the whistle in the closing minutes. Similarly, even in lopsided games, he cautions officials to not look the other way on rule violations.

• Communication is Key

Abbott says it’s very important to talk to the table crew and the substitution coaches in advance. Make sure they are clear on their roles. Sometimes, a friendly reminder is helpful to table volunteers/parents telling them that they are not cheerleaders in that spot. Abbott stresses that consistency as a crew is critically important, and constantly talking to game partners can help to achieve that goal. He notes that it is the official’s duty to listen to coaches, but do not allow them to distract you from your responsibilities. Abbott says it is best to find an open spot on the field in order to relay the penalty call clearly to the table, and that if needed, take extra time to make sure everybody is clear on what was called.

• The Bottom Line

Abbott says that “if you are prepared, then you are ready to make the right calls as a crew.”  He notes that, ideally, situations that arise in a game have all been addressed previously. 

Upcoming Crease Play Webinar

Matt Palumb, NCAA lacrosse championship official and 3-time NCAA champion as a goalkeeper, reviews mechanics for crease play, discusses common situations around the crease, and reviews game film with his expert perspective.

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