Tips from the C-Suite: Ian Garrison's 5 Keys to Officiating Box Lacrosse


“As we grow the game, we have to protect the players,” says Ian Garrison, box lacrosse official and NLL crew chief.

This article appears in the May/June edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.

In eight years, Ian Garrison has climbed the ranks of his profession to become one of the best officials in the National Lacrosse League in its highest position: crew chief.

“We want to ascend quickly, but often the basics are the most important aspect of building an official,” Garrison said during a presentation at the virtual LaxCon in January.


“A monumental difference from the field game is that the lead official, who signals goals, resets and crease violations, stands in tight to the crease and a step above goal line extended. They should remain active and aware at all times and ready to move in tight to the crease given the box game’s dynamic nature. The goal is to be as accurate as possible. Being off in the corner puts us in a bad spot.”


“The most important piece of box lacrosse officiating is being in the right spot to make the right call. The trail official, who stands diagonally from their partner is responsible for reporting goals and assists, anticipating transition and watching late hits. If we’re trying to grow box lacrosse in the U.S. market, we have to take away late contact that perpetuates the violent element of box lacrosse. You can’t get in a position where the trail official is just watching the play.”


“We’re working together and have to make a concerted effort to cover each other. The box game is moving so fast and dynamic, it’s important to talk pregame and understand how we’ll cover the floor.”


“Transition dominates our game. The lead-to-trail official always follows the players — taking responsibility primarily for the bench closest to them but also offering the ability to see both benches and the wider scope. You never want to be narrow. Pivot your hips to see the floor as widely as we can.”


“The big three penalties are boarding, high sticking and checking from behind. As we grow the game, we have to protect the players. We’re not looking to dismiss contact. We’re looking to enhance safety. Be proactive and use your voice to talk through and prevent situations.”

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