An important talent of a successful lacrosse official is good communication skills. Unfortunately, not everything an official says is productive – abrasive comments can lead to further escalations. Also, not all communication is verbal – hand signals can work just as well.

Officials should restrain themselves in their desire to communicate everything they can to prove they are right. Excessive verbal communication is comparable to a machine with extra parts.

Good officials will use non-verbal communications to avoid creating unnecessary friction points with the coaches and players. Hand signals or short, rehearsed verbal phrases are better than long-winded explanations. Build and practice your vocabulary of hand signals and short stock phrases, which will eliminate unnecessary words and still communicate your message.

Tenets of Good Communication

Below are a few notable non-lacrosse quotations that are applicable to the philosophy of how to communicate better as a lacrosse official.

Things to Ask Yourself Before You Speak

Think of all the things you spoke aloud during a game:

  • How much of what you spoke was really essential?
  • Was anything you stated unnecessary?
  • Could anything you have said been replaced by either non-communication (ignore it) or by non-verbal communication (visual)?

Before you speak, consider the following:

  • Is it even necessary for you to speak, or can you find a better way to communicate the same message without speaking?
  • Are your words likely to invite additional banter from the coaches, officials, fans, or players?
  • Is there an opportunity to state nothing and perhaps send a message that nothing further needs to be said?

Written by: Tim Bohdan

Mr. Tim Bohdan is a boys’ youth and men’s high school lacrosse official based in Houston, Texas. Mr. Bohdan is currently certified at Level 3 by US Lacrosse, and is a US Lacrosse Certified Trainer. He officiated youth and high school championship finals and all-star games every year in Texas, and worked the 2014 US Lacrosse U15 National Championship Tournament and the 2015 Vail Shootout Tournament U19 Division. Mr. Bohdan is currently the Secretary of the Texas Lacrosse Officials Association (TXLOA), of which he was a principal founder and organizer. Tim has served in a number of local lacrosse organizations, including four years as the president of the Katy Cavalier Lacrosse Club and two years as the president of the Greater Houston Youth Lacrosse Association. Tim’s son Patrick played for Team Portugal in the 2014 FIL World Games