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The 3rd Team on the Field, Men's Lacrosse Officials Training Video for All Levels

The Creators Game - full feature film

Instructional Faceoff Video - instructional video

The Lacrosse Progression - instructional video


February 18, 2003

A Little Background

About two years ago, Steve Stenerson, the Executive Director of US Lacrosse, hosted a first-of-its-kind meeting. The attendees were all manufacturers, retailers, publications and other businesses that call lacrosse their home. The meeting would become the first of the new US Lacrosse Industry Council. It wasn't guaranteed that anything would ever come of putting these known competitors and often true enemies in the same room, even if the growth of lacrosse, as a whole, was the goal. The council was formed to discuss common issues, set rules and manage the US Lacrosse Coaches Convention vendor area, represent those in the industry to the US Lacrosse leadership, but most importantly, to grow the game from whatever synergies that existed and ideas that came from getting this group together.

It was hard going at first. You'd be surprised how many conflicts can emerge between members of such a group when just trying to do some common good. There was a pot of money from the council members' dues and the good will to do something for the game, but finding a way to do it without stepping of the commercial toes of a member would be difficult. Providing moneys for an emerging geographical area of lacrosse development, for hypothetical example, might lessen the sales of equipment by the retailer who had targeted and invested in that area for years in their marketing or perhaps even put a small store in the area. Every idea seemed to have a legitimate down side for someone.

I wish could I remember who had the idea to do something to encourage participation in the game by new referees and coaches all over the country, but this started the ball rolling, as everyone in the room saw the dire need for especially referees by their constituencies at home. Within moments of Steve Stenerson mentioning the already planned officiating training tape, there was a consensus that we would pay for it. It was a perfect idea that didn't tread on the turf of any members.

The tape would instruct officials and be part of a program and training rolled out by the local chapters in the states. The women already had a pretty good program for this so the tape would focus on the men's game, even though the council and its members serve both the men and women that play the game. It has already been suggested by many that the next council funded project should work to grow participation in the women's game, as "The 3rd Team on the Field, Men's Lacrosse Officials Training Video for All Levels" was watched and enjoyed by many members. The tape will likely have a large impact on the men's officiating numbers, especially in outlying regions. This is not just because the idea was a "no brainer" and was exactly what lax needed, but because the producers and cast of the video did a fantastic job! The details follow in our first Lacrosse Film Review of 2003.

The Review

The format of the instruction is a discussion between you and a referee that is getting ready for a game in a locker room played brilliantly by the new Johns Hopkins locker room. The ref, Bill Kelly, and the off-screen narrator Eric Evans are pretty good too. In fact, they are as professional as any we've seen on corporate or government training tapes, and in past lives we've seen many. Kelly begins the dialog with the definition of the job, the importance and value of good referees and the code (sorta) that the 3rd team on the field live by. It's very important, in our view, that this is defined first. Referees that call this tape their bible in the future, the way so many of today's coaches refer to Bob Scott's coaching book, will have a great fundamental understanding of why refs go unnoticed in all of their best games and why that's a great thing. The code is basically the four introspective questions below asked by an official of himself after a game.

Communications with other referees, coaches and player on the field are stressed as the tape proceeds. Preparations for a game are a great example of how this tape functions for referees at all levels of the game. One ref might prepare in a beautiful locker facility at Homewood while another will prep in his car or office before officiating that high school game in a rural community but their goals are identical. The tape is full of moments where they connect the community that way.

The understanding of intent and consequence is an important part of calling a good game and the instruction here is very cognizant of this. All the rules are outlined, but more than that, an understanding is achieved that should make these new refs a little more confident than just a book-trained official. Safety is also stressed, as often the best tool in avoiding the potentially dangerous or overzealous play is a flow of good and responsible calls in a game. There is a sense of responsibility to the integrity of the game and its players throughout the instruction of each type of penalty and scenario, which is nice. Sportsmanship and fair play by all on the field is the cornerstone of great lacrosse at every level.

There are nice video and graphics affects used to make points and help the viewer grasp some of the issues discussed. Donations of video footage from the NCAA and some more great acting by the boys of the Cockeysville, Maryland youth lacrosse league (our editor is an alumnus) give the tape plenty of great real-footage examples to show a few angles on every explanation of the rules. The campuses of Johns Hopkins and Towson Universities are the settings for the shoots in the locker room and on the field. Moving graphics are used in a few cases to explain lead and trail or off and on roles for referees, which are very helpful. The US Lacrosse team of Jennifer Allen and Jody Martin and the Baltimore production company, Stonebridge Communications, did a great job putting this all together from the vision of Past Men's Divison President and long-time referee Rod Korba who wrote most of the material, as well.

The background music is contemporary and audio quality is good throughout. The language is very understandable yet concise. Watching this tape a few times should teach you the material as well as make you feel comfortable in a sometimes awkward role. There's some self promotion for US Lacrosse on the tape but that's common with video products fomr non-profit organizations. We might have expected more, actually. You can buy the tape at the US Lacrosse web site for 25 bucks. It's also a great tape for youth teams or any players to watch in order to understand the rules and maybe even the referees a little better.