Flush It: How to Refocus as an Official

Jim Carboneau became an official in 1975.

This article appears in the November edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.

I first met Jim Carboneau at the 2013 LAREDO 3 clinic in Vail, Colorado. As the head clinician, he set the tone from day one. Carboneau commandeered President John F. Kennedy’s famous line from his Moon Shot speech.

“Ask not what the game can do for you,” Carboneau told us, “but what you can do for the game.”

Service to lacrosse has been Carboneau’s driving force as an official since he first donned the stripes in 1975. He officiated high school, college, box and pre-pro league club lacrosse. He worked four NCAA championships and various international events culminating in the 2010 world championship in England. 

Early in his career, Carboneau had recently quit his job and had an interview the day after a Division I tilt between Brown and Yale. Caught between not having a job and the uncertainty of not securing one, Carboneau focused on what he could control: serving the game. He used the “flush-it” technique any time an intrusive thought entered his mind.

This technique is famous in LAREDO clinic lore because it works beautifully to refocus an official. When I made a mistake at the Vail clinic, I did what every other official does: I looked at the clinician taking notes on the sideline. To help prevent me from snowballing into more mistakes, Carboneau just mimed flushing a toilet. That was the signal to put the error aside and focus on the present.


  • Laziness kills your chances of advancement.

  • Don’t put your head down while running. You can’t see the play.

  • Avoid hunching over. It gives the appearance that you’re looking to make a call.


  • Know the game you’re officiating. You can’t ref a high school championship like a 10U game.

  • Aim for calls that are impactful and don’t simply show your knowledge of the rulebook.


  • Pleasant confidence is superior to arrogant command.

  • Act like you’re looking forward to the game. That attitude goes a long way with players and coaches.

  • Be honest. Never make up a phony rule or lie about not seeing what you see.   

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