GUARDIANS OF THE GAME BLOG


10 Essential Items for every Lacrosse Coach’s gear bag

posted Aug 17, 2017, 8:15 PM by SOCALOA President   [ updated Aug 19, 2017, 10:33 PM ]

10 Essential Items for every Lacrosse Coach’s gear bag

By Sean Connally  |  August 17, 2017

Being Prepared is not just for Boy Scouts

Besides writing practice and game plans, a good lacrosse coach is prepared not only for the what the other team brings on game day but for the sometimes inevitable hardships of being a coach of tweens, pre-teens or teenagers. Borrowing from 18 years of lacrosse officiating and coaching experience, here are some must-have items for every lacrosse coach to avoid injuries and penalties and promote safety and fair play:


  1. Full First Aid Kit

A first aid kit will greatly help in the event of a medical emergency at practice or a game. It is best to provide your own first aid kit for every practice and game, so it can be customized to meet the medical needs of your team, rather than relying on the home team or the venue operator to provide one. “There are just too many first aid kits,” said no one ever in an emergency.

200 piece sports first aid kit

  1. Medical Release Forms with Emergency Contacts

Reading all of these forms will help you and your coaching staff to better care for your player’s medical needs, and having them with you at all times will allow medical professionals that same opportunity.

  1. Extra Goalie throat guard

Purchase an extra Goalie Throat Guard  that easily ties to the facemask of any size helmet. Keep it in your bag for the moment when the goalie gets injured or has to serve penalty time and he or she also seems to have the smallest head on the team preventing helmet swapping.

  1. Mouthguards

Just like the goalie cannot play without a throat protector, a player needs a mouthguard. Invest in at least 2-3 generic mouthguards and keep them in your bag for the inevitable moment 1 minute before the face-off when your player tells you he does not know where his mouthguard is and has not seen if for three weeks. For fun, keep an old dirty one in your bag as well and show it to your players as a warning to always keep track of their mouthguard or else they will have to borrow coach’s “back-up mouthpiece.”


Youth Mouthguards

  1. Fluorescent-colored Athletic tape

This tape will help your team avoid a face-off penalty by providing a nice contrasting color with virtually any player’s gloves and crosse. You may also revitalize an 80's fashion trend.


Athletic Tape

  1. Full stringing kit (w/ scissors and screwdriver)

Most players barely have one passable crosse so if a sidewall or the mesh gets busted in the game, they will not have a backup. Hand the stick to the assistant coach and have him or her repair it while instructing the attentive player on how to properly care for and string their stick. Hopefully, the lack of playing time or the long-winded lecture will motivate your player to take better care of their stick in the future lest it happen again. Make sure your kit includes scissors and a Phillips head screwdriver to put flying lacrosse heads back on. 

  1. Current NFHS Rulebook

Reading the rules before the season would be a fantastic use of your time, but during the game not so much. However, if you do have a working knowledge of the rules and where it can be found in the NFHS Rulebook then it could save you from a misapplied rule in the game. Read Rule 7-13-1 and then, in the game, call for a double horn at the next dead ball to explain how you believe the official misapplied a rule by quoting the rulebook. If you do not have the rulebook then you will have to rely on the official's knowledge of the rulebook to resolve the issue ... so make sure you bring your rulebook! You should get one mailed to you every year when you renew your membership with US Lacrosse in September.



NFHS Rulebook

  1. Cones

These will help not only with pregame warm-ups but should also be used to keep the players out of the substitution and coaches box on the sideline since most fields do not have this area properly marked. All players are to be six yards from the sideline by rule to keep them safe from sideline body checks, out of the sight line of the table personnel (who are also 6 yards back), and out of your personal space so you can coach.

Cones

  1. Horn

While the home team is supposed to provide this item, having your own will ensure that you can get a double horn when needed during the game and not be disadvantaged should the home team not have one. If that is the case then the home team should be penalized by forfeiting the first face-off for failing to provide a horn.

Air Horn

  1. Team Scorebook

Again, the home team is supposed to provide this but the visiting team should always bring theirs as well. This will make sure that the game score and penalties are properly recorded. Not having any proper scorebook increases the possibility that there is an error in the score - OR - a player may accumulate 5+ minutes of personal foul time and NOT foul out the game due to a clerical error. Don't let this happen to your team.


Lacrosse Scorebook

Extra Credit:

Keep a complete set of goalie gear in your car. This includes the aforementioned throat guard, chest protector, athletic cup, and goalie stick. So if your main goalie forgets to tell you he or she is on vacation, then you will not have to forfeit the game.

Conclusion

Did I miss anything? What do you suggest to keep in your coach’s bag? Let me know in the comments below. We are all here to learn from each other.



Sean Connally is a US Lacrosse Certified Boy’s Referee Trainer and Observer as well a Level 2 National Clinician for the US Lacrosse Coaches Development Program. He currently serves as the USL Sub-District Trainer in Orange County, CA for District 10, and is the President of the Southern California Lacrosse Officials Association. He referees MCLA Division I college games and has experience coaching at the middle school and MCLA College Club level.

The Southern California Lacrosse Officials Association is a public charity non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation based in Southern California and is committed to providing the highest rated boys’ lacrosse officials in Southern California leagues, tournaments, schools and other competitions, as well as educating the public on lacrosse rules and safety.

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Save the Children! Spectator Safety at a Lacrosse Game

posted Aug 15, 2017, 10:16 PM by SOCALOA President   [ updated Aug 19, 2017, 10:30 PM ]

Save the Children! Spectator Safety at a Lacrosse Game

By Sean Connally   | August 15, 2017

The lacrosse field is more dangerous than it looks

While lacrosse may not be the first sport your child has played, it is arguable more dangerous for spectators than they realize. Baseball diamonds have standard fencing and backstops to keep stray balls from spectators. Hockey has rinks and netting to keep the puck away. Soccer, basketball and football have few safety barriers for spectators but they play with a much larger and softer ball than lacrosse, which is easier to see and dodge since it travels much slower. If your child has already played these sports then you may be operating with a false sense of security at lacrosse games. Many fans do not realize how fast the lacrosse ball can travel and how dangerous it can be for unprepared spectators.


Figure 1: Spectators and the media need to stay in the yellow areas per Rule 1-11b.

As lacrosse officials we see this all the time from parents setting their chairs right next to the sideline to pushing baby strollers directly behind the goal area, the most dangerous place on the entire field. This article highlights how spectators can keep safe while enjoying watching their child or grandchild play the great game of lacrosse.

End lines (Behind the Goals)

NFHS Rule 1-11a: Spectators and media (including photographers) are not allowed behind the end lines except in stadium structures where permanent seats exist.

On most youth lacrosse fields you will be lucky to see fencing behind the goal area, and if you do, its purpose is more to keep the ball from rolling astray than keeping people safe. Under no circumstances should spectators, parents, grandparents, and especially small children, be walking in these danger zones during live play. Spectators should make sure that they sit according to the safe areas defined in Figure 1.

Usually in big high school games, the home team will allow ball retrievers around the field to help replace endline balls after they are shot. This is a great way to keep young aspiring lacrosse players in the game and to help the game move quickly. Make sure that if your player is going to be the ball retriever in the endline area, that they are properly equipped with a helmet per rule.

Figure 2: Warning signs such as this one behind the endline do a good job of reminding spectators the risks in watching a lacrosse game. Venue directors, Tournament directors, coaches, and officials need make sure that spectators have a safe place to view the games and move spectators when necessary.


Bench Area/Table Area

NFHS Rule 1-11b: Spectators and media (including photographers) are not allowed immed­iately behind the bench area, or within or immediately behind the table area.

There is a lot going on during a lacrosse game and while some spectators like being part of the action, their presence may cause disruption in the team area.  While some spectators might have good intentions like appropriately cheering for their respective teams, some may feel inclined to “advise” the coach, official, or table personnel on how to properly do their job. Because of this, the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS) has made a rule that spectators and media are not allowed behind the table and bench areas (Rule 1-11b). Following this rule is easier in high school football stadiums that already have defined spectator bleacher areas, but regular open grass fields have more problems providing safe accommodations for spectators. In these type of fields, coaches and officials should make sure that spectators sit on the sideline opposite the team areas and should only behind the team areas if the opposite sideline is full of spectators or is a hazardous area.

Sideline

NFHS Rule 1-11c: Spectators and media (including photographers) are not allowed within the limit lines at any time during a contest.

The sideline where spectators are permitted to sit is the long side of the field opposite the team benches. Always stay at least 6 yards from the sideline of the lacrosse field behind an imaginary line called the “limit line.” This sideline rule is the most difficult to enforce for referees because many spectators are not aware of this rule and want to get as close as possible to see their player in action.  This proves problematic for both players and spectators as it puts both parties in danger of injury. Many unaware fans not only sit too close the sideline but will place blankets and have picnics with small children right next to the sideline. Boy’s lacrosse allows body checking which can push players outside of the playing area and into spectators that are sitting too close to the sideline.

Figure 3: Spectators and the media need to be at least 6 yards away from the field of play per Rule 1-11b. Venue Directors and Tournament directors need to make sure that field spacing allows for a safe and legal viewing distance for spectators. In addition, spectators need to make sure that they never enter the field of play even if Live Play is temporarily suspended.  


Figure 4: Not only does NFHS rules require spectators and media to be at minimum of 6 yards from the sideline. Spare balls placed around the field need to be at least 6 yards as well by rule. This is done to keep players from tripping on balls that are too close to the field of play.


Stray Shots can really hurt spectators

Not only are body checks and stray players falling on spectators hazardous, but the lacrosse ball itself can really hurt spectators if they are not careful. Professional lacrosse players can thrown the ball as hard as 110 mph and as you can see from the table below, your high school player is not that far behind. If you are behind the goal area then that ball is coming at you very fast. The lacrosse ball is made of solid rubber between 7.75 and 8 inches in circumference, between 5 and 5.5 ounces in weight. A baseball is slightly larger at 9 to 9.25 inches in circumference but weighs slightly less from 5.00 to 5.25 ounces. Both balls would hurt very much if they hit a spectator at any of the speeds listed below, but at least every baseball field has a backstop to protect spectators and lacrosse does not. Just look up lacrosse ball bruises to see the possible result of being hit with a lacrosse ball. Do not let this be you or your child.

Age Range of Player

Approximate Speed of Shot

Pro/ Collegiate

90 - 110 mph

Varsity HS (16 - 18 yrs)

80 - 90 mph

JV HS (14 - 16 yrs)

60 - 80 mph

11 - 14 yrs

40 - 60 mph

9 - 11 yrs

0 - 40 mph

Watch out for the Pre-game Warm-Ups

There is a common tendency for spectators to be inattentive during the pregame warm-ups. The player has just been dropped off and now the attention of the spectator is devoted to finding the best place to watch the game whether it is a spot with the best view or near fellow parents with which they can converse. Regardless, safety is not usually at the forefront of their minds and they may be taking for granted the fact that youth players do not catch or throw very well and now their line drills have made the sideline spectators a living backstop. Because of this many stray balls have injured spectators before the game has even begun. As a spectator make sure that you and your family are watching the field at all times when the teams are playing the game as well as warming up before the game or even during halftime.

Special Note for Photographers

No matter how great you want your next shot to be, it is not worth risking your personal safety. All photographers (professional or amateur) need to stay at least 6 yards from the sidelines of the lacrosse field and are not permitted behind the end lines and the team/table area per Rule 1-11b. Please read the Lacrosse Photographer Safety article for more clarification.

Application

Now that you have a better understanding of the rules and safety involved in watching a lacrosse game, here are some practical tips to help keep you safe:

  • Make sure you and your children are always at least 6 yards away from the outer lines of the lacrosse field.
  • NEVER walk directly behind the goal area during LIVE PLAY and under no circumstance should you sit there.
  • If the sidelines are unsafe in anyway, take it upon yourself to let the coaches and officials know. 
  • Do not let your children play behind the goal area at any time.
  • Enjoy your picnics far away from the sideline (and endline) to keep your family safe.
  • Always pay attention to the field of play, especially during LIVE PLAY and pre-game warm-ups.

Sean Connally is a US Lacrosse Certified Boy’s Referee Trainer and Observer as well a Level 2 National Clinician for the US Lacrosse Coaches Development Program. He currently serves as the USL Sub-District Trainer in Orange County, CA for District 10, and is the President of the Southern California Lacrosse Officials Association. He referees MCLA Division I college games and has experience coaching at the middle school and MCLA College Club level.


The Southern California Lacrosse Officials Association is a public charity non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation based in Southern California and is committed to providing the highest rated boys’ lacrosse officials in Southern California leagues, tournaments, schools and other competitions, as well as educating the public on lacrosse rules and safety.


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