High school officiating crews frequently have much to manage in a game, particularly a two-person crew. Michael Hyland, a US Lacrosse clinician and longtime NCAA and high school official, offers some tips in the form of seven c’s of officiating.

Competence

Know the rules. Spend a little bit of time each week getting your head in the book. If you are questioned by a coach on a rule, then go back that night and read the rule. Find the AR that proves you right or wrong. If right, good. If not, learn from it. Review your two- and three-person mechanics each week to get ready.

Communication

Talk. Talk more. Talk often. Talk with your crewmate(s) before the game. Talk loudly on the field. Talk after flags are thrown to get it right. Talk after goals are scored. Talk to kids in the middle who are elbowing each other or picking inside. Talk to faceoff men. Talk to coaches. Talk to kids in a scrum when the ball is loose. Talk to your goalie after the ball goes in the net. Talk about stalling. Talk to your timekeepers. Talk to your horn person. Talk to the scorer. Talk to your ball boys.

Use your hand signals all the time, not just once in a while or when you think the play is big. The coaches always want to know direction. Slow down your signals during a heated play. Go slow, talk slow, and slow the mechanics down.

Compassion

We are all humans and will screw up. Have compassion for the players and fellow officials. Don’t throw a fellow official under the bus by agreeing with a coach that a flag was bad. Just say nothing or support him. Stay a team throughout the game.

Consistency

Your first flag or non-flag should set the level for the game for all officials, not just you. Watch what the other official(s) flags or passes on down at his end of field in the first few minutes of play; then do the same down your end of the field. Games get out of hand when officials are calling different style of games.

I have been in games where I normally would throw five to seven more flags but did not since we set the tone early. I also have been in games where I was throwing flags at everything since that is the tone we set in that particular game. Coaches, players, and fans want better consistency, not judgment. Consistency between games is not the issue here. It’s consistency during your game.

Confidence

Get it, keep it, then think: “be humble.” Be confident in your calls. Don’t back down, but don’t get a chip on your shoulder. I like thinking of being underwater. I try to zone out the crowd, and remain completely calm under fire. Never laugh or get mad. Be alert, steady and professional.

Conviction

A solid official first must have a strong belief that you are there to oversee the lacrosse game in an accurate and non-biased way. The belief in your ability to perform your duties during the game is paramount. Believing in and confidently delivering all foul calls and instructions to coaches, players and fellow officials provides the appearance that you’re strong and have an unwavering belief in your ability.

Courage

This is the choice and willingness to confront uncertainty, intimidation, and danger without showing fear. As an official, from parking lot to the field, you must show that you are the calm individual in all situations. As we all find out, it’s not easy to make the tough calls in tight spots, but having the courage to do so even when your emotions are difficult to control is the difference between being a good official, and being the best official.

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