When Opponents Are Fouling A Lot

This post was written by Coach Tom on April 9, 2015
Posted Under: Game Management,Games

It’s natural for a kids’ lacrosse coach to become annoyed when opponents foul a lot and the Ref doesn’t call the fouls. Personal fouls at the youngest levels often result in a player’s being sent off for a minute or the remainder of his rotation. Generally it’s to reinforce the message that he should avoid the improper conduct and not function as a formal penalty-time system. But even the Ref’s calling all of the other team’s infractions can present you with a problem.

Vicious slashes and hard body checks take a toll on their victims. Over the course of a game, the repeat victims may start to shy away from engaging in play. They might avoid or delay picking up ground balls or attacking the goal, or otherwise reduce their assertiveness. Repeated personal fouls can significantly intimidate many players on the victimized team.

I’ve never played an opponent where I thought that the other coach intentionally coached players to commit fouls. I have wondered, though, what’s going on when a team commits an unusual number of personal fouls. I can’t read minds, but I think one of several things are occurring. The players are getting tired and consequently sloppy and their couch is too inexperienced to recognize it. Or the other coach fails to teach proper play or ignores improper play.

Such intimidation can exist at every level in sports. It’s common in professional football, hockey, and basketball. This is not the forum for a discussion of its propriety in general. There is no place for it in elementary school sports. Players can get hurt or lose enthusiasm for a sport before they’ve barely started.

This problem of intimidation by personal fouls is unusual in kids’ lacrosse, but it’s disappointing whenever it happens. To date I’ve not found an optimal way to address it. In lacrosse rules, five personal fouls result in an ejection from the game (“disqualification” in lacrosse-speak). Most kids’ lacrosse rules don’t vary the standard rules to reduce the number of personal fouls required before ejection. I think three personal fouls at the little kid level should result in ejection. Sometimes a single take-out body-check will remove an offender from a game. Munchkins rarely employ take-out checks. So such a rule is only a partial solution.

When one of my players or an opponent player gets a personal foul I record their jersey number and start a tally. So far that tally has never reached five. Reducing the number of fouls required for ejection to three would create a “three strikes and you’re out” policy. Perhaps then coaches and players might before more careful about fouling.

Add a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.