The One-Sided Visible Shot Clock Debate


I love a good counterpoint, and the conversation surrounding a Visible Shot Clock is in dire need of one, so here goes…

When one watches a college game on TV these days, the subject of the new rules inevitably comes up, as it should, but there is hardly a diversity of opinion on many of the rule changes coming from the broadcast booth. The best example of this one-sided view on an issue is the Visible Shot Clock Debate, and how offensive players need to see a 30 second shot clock.

Nobody else seems to be in favor of an invisible shot clock. Here is my reasoning for why it’s a good thing.

The first argument against a Visible Shot Clock is no different from the one I made when a permanent shot clock was being debated: The cost of installing new clocks could be prohibitive, especially at smaller (non-D1 schools) and neutral sites. This added cost holds back growth by increasing inherent costs, and it limits venues for neutral site games to those that have lacrosse shot clocks.

Sure, teams could buy portable shot clocks, but will they be wired to a central clock? What if the field doesn’t have power? Use solar powered shot clocks and what do you do if it rains, or it’s a night game? These questions can be answered, but until they have been, the visible shot clock debate can not be as simple an argument as “players need to see it“.

The second argument against a shot clock is that it is not a permanent feature of the game. There isn’t always a shot clock going in the game, so who manages the clocks? Do they go off the ref’s whistle? Do refs now need remotes for clocks? Can a smaller game crew handle the added responsibility? If there is a reset, does the ref have to confer with the clock manager each time? That all seems like it would also slow the game down, and again, that is something the new rules are trying to avoid. Basically, a visible shot clock requires a lot of work, time, and money for something that will only be used a couple of times per game.

A third argument against the VSC is that lacrosse is not basketball, and it is not football. We don’t have a shot clock at all times, like in basketball, or in the NLL. There is no constant play clock, like in football. It is a small part of the game for us at this point. Lacrosse needs to be looked at as lacrosse, and not something else. We don’t have free throws in lacrosse, should we add those in because basketball has them? Exactly. “Basketball does it” is a very weak argument.

The fourth argument against a Visible Shot Clock has to do with the WHOLE POINT of the rule changes. Teams that stall, and slow it down, will be penalized. A visible shot clock seems like much less of a penalty, doesn’t it? It makes it easier on the offense, and this lessens the impact of the call. Do we really want to encourage more stalling by making the stall period easier to deal with for the offense? That seems incredibly backwards.

The final argument against shot clocks is that lacrosse players are smart. When the ref puts the stall warning on, every player on offense should look up at the clock and subtract 30 second from the time remaining in the quarter. Now EACH player has their own shot clock. Bad at math? Study your subtraction tables more.You are in college, right? Shouldn’t be too tough. It’s simple, it’s manageable, and it doesn’t require any additional clocks or excellent hearing. That just blew your mind, didn’t it?

Commentators have said many times how players need to be able to see a shot clock, but the fact is that they already have a clock to use. It can also be argued that the added costs are prohibitive, but the strongest point is that the shot clock is a penalty, and not just another part of the game. To lessen the punishment is to reward “bad” behavior, and that is exactly what the new rules were trying to get away from. As the Stall and Shot Clock rules stand now, and for many other reasons, a Visible Shot Clock actually makes no sense.


  1. Agreed.  Not to mention players never needed a clock for the 10-count to get it in the box.  Players never needed a clock for the 20 count to get it over midline, etc.  Why should 30 seconds to get a shot off be any different?

  2. I definitely agree on the point of it being a punishment for stalling.  The other point to add in was the NFL didn’t always have a visible clock either even thought basketball had one from the get go.  Refs used hand signals for the play clock.  I was at an NFL game without power and they went back to this method.  The game went on, the teams played and everyone survived.

  3. The mechanic for timing of a stall is exactly the same as for a clear and no one complains about when the official starts his timer.   
    The problem with the TV announcers is they all played in the big programs in big stadiums where a visible clock an option.  Go see where the majority of college games are played and you will realize there is no way it will ever happen.

  4. It should be a 1 minute shot clock for the offense once they cross midfield period. This speeds up the game we get to see a better game with more aggressive play and less passing around for 2 minutes. This is the fastest game on two feet right? Atleast that is what I grew up with hearing and seeing on t-shirts. When you watch any field lacrosse on TV its becoming more and more boring to watch because the final scores are 6-5 and 4-3 occasionally the huge 10-8 game woohoo! Give us 24-22 Duke over Syracuse in the final and see how huge the ratings get, guaranteed to increase much faster.

  5. I agree that a visible shot clock would be cost prohibitive.. my son is playing club ball at Ole Miss and I don’t think  there is any room in the budget for a shot clock and a 4th person to man it.. I also do not like the loss of the 2 minute keep it in rule that came with the 30 second  stall warning.. A good coach with timeouts could basically kill a couple of minutes without getting near the defense especially with the 30 second clock only being active after the officials call a stall  which could be subjective..