Tips for Coaching Summer Tournament Lacrosse

Delayed 'Flag Down' Penalties

Next, the NCAA rules are a little different in regards to a delayed penalty, or a flag down, situation. For HS lacrosse, if there is a delayed penalty call and the ball is in the offensive box, even if the ball goes on the ground, the whistle blows, play stops, and the man-up begins. In college rules, as long as the ball is in the offensive box, even if it goes to the ground any number of times, the play continues until the ball eventually goes outside the box or an offensive player gains possession. We highly recommend that you call some flag-down scenarios in practices to keep your offensive group attacking and staying in the box. This can be a huge advantage if the defense relaxes when the ball goes on the ground while your team continues to be aggressive to the cage.

Review the Tie Breakers

It is not unusual for two or three teams in a tournament bracket to come out of the first day with a loss, and thus the tiebreakers come into play for determining who gets to compete for the semifinals or even ultimately the championship game.

In many tournaments, the tiebreaker is goals against; however, we recently were in a tournament where the tiebreaker was most significant loss, determined by goal differential in a loss. As a coach, you need to know this and make your team aware, because it can make a difference. In a game we were losing, we battled back to make it close, and that made the difference in getting one of the top four seeds, and we ultimately won the championship. Or if you are winning, rather than coast, the goals against might make a huge difference in seeding, so playing aggressive defense might be the key between getting there and playing in the consolation brackets.

Lack of Horns

In almost all of the summer tournaments in which we compete, there are no horns or stopping play during the running time halves. It is understandable in some cases, as there are hundreds of teams and games. But it will take a little getting used to as a coach.

In my case, we rotate our players more frequently than I would as a varsity coach. The reason is that if you miss a chance to switch out middies during an offensive possession, you may not get another chance for three or four minutes or longer if the ball goes the other way, or you fail to clear following the ball in your defensive end.

If you are carrying five attack players and/or five defense players, you will find it a challenge to get them all close to equal time during a running time half. It is harder than it appears, so have some help and make a plan ahead of time. You do not have the luxury of a horn to rotate. For me, I try to err on the side of more frequent changes at opportune times as a safer vehicle to fewer dead-tired middies trying to play defense.

And although it may be a little late for you this summer, I have trimmed down the number of players we carry on each team, simply because it is hard to keep them rotated fairly, and if they are playing in recruiting tournaments, it is tough to give five attack players great opportunities to showcase their talents.

All in all, it is still summer. Smile and have a blast! is a unique site for lacrosse coaches, offering drills and ideas from the greatest coaches in the country. E-mail your comments to

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