Tips for Coaching Summer Tournament Lacrosse

By Mike Muetzel,

If you are coaching a summer club team or traveling to play in summer tournaments, I probably do not need to let you know the game format and coaching techniques are radically different. In fact, the coaching is far different than I had ever expected. I have touched on some of my thoughts on summer coaching below.

In addition to the mechanics of the games, the strategies around substitutions and roster size are also very different. This is club ball, which means the parents are paying hard-earned money (even more significant in these economic times); therefore, allocating playing time needs to be far more equitable than it may have been in your varsity coaching days.

You need to have a strategy and be organized, because the games go by so quickly with running time in most cases. If there are players you are not playing, the headaches and turmoil on the bench and with parents will just take the enjoyment out of it. Summer is far more competitive than ever, but we still need to emphasize fun.

Here are some thoughts from my learning curve:

Smile and Be Patient

It is summer. Smile. This means that practices may be limited, and the kids are not going to be at all of the practices. They have family activities, vacations, summer jobs, and unlike a varsity culture the other commitments will get in the way. I recommend that you go with the flow and smile occasionally.

Understand the Individual Format of Tournament Play

First, please read well in advance the rule sheet for each tournament, because they are all different. Running time halves, 20 minutes or 25; some have time on the field, some a common clock. If you have an assistant or a parent to help, I recommend asking them to keep you posted on a watch, or I use a little travel alarm. Many of you are used to asking the table for the time left, but sometimes they do not know or have the time, so be prepared.

Also, most tournaments for high school games are now using NCAA rules. This changes your existing thoughts on timeouts, face-offs, delayed penalties, just to hit the highlights. Focus on the unique aspects:

Key NCAA vs. High School Rule Differences


Each tournament has different rules on timeouts. I have been in tournaments with one timeout per half, or recently at the Hogan, one timeout per game. Also important is the timing of when the timeout can be called. Many events allow no timeouts in the last two minutes of each half. We played in a tournament with no timeouts in the last five minutes of a half. So make sure you know ahead of time. In most of these tournaments, the issues of the multiple games and heat are real factors, so I would encourage you to use all your timeouts throughout the day.

Also remember, if you are playing NCAA rules, you cannot call a timeout just anywhere on the field or to save a possession anywhere on the field. You have to wait to call the timeout until your team has the ball in the offensive zone. The offensive zone is defined as the restraining line in your offensive end, not strictly in the box, but the alleys or anything over or past the restraining line running from sideline to sideline.


For the face-off, the referee will only say 'Down' and then blow the whistle; there is no 'Set' call, and the whistle comes very quickly. If your face-off, player receives a procedure call, he must then exit the field through the box. So please incorporate this into your practices, as your players need to adjust, and you may get some bonus transition or break opportunities.

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