If you haven’t heard of Lax Timer yet you may hear a lot about it in the upcoming season. Lax Timer, developed by a father/son duo, is a Windows based program to time a lacrosse game, control the main game time, and up to 6 penalty timers with one button. Lax Timer is usually on a laptop at the scorer’s table. Lax Timer will virtually leave the game management from the scorer’s table flawless as well as reduce the room for human error. In other words: game management just got simpler.
Lax Timer was started by a father/son team. The son, Nolan Dahl, now a high school student, started playing lacrosse in junior high, and liked it so much, and became good enough, that he was playing year round between his local team, and a Seattle All Star team. The father, Kenn Dahl, the head of a software company, started as a spectator, and then gradually became more involved in the team efforts as a volunteer, including many years as the Timer for Nolan’s teams.
What exactly is Lax Timer?
Lax Timer is a PC/Windows program, usually run on a laptop at the scorer’s table, which is used to time a lacrosse game. It can control the main game time, and up to 6 penalty timers with one button. It will automatically announce the game time countdowns, and the penalty time countdowns on the laptop’s speakers, or if connected to a cheap set of speakers, it will announce the countdowns to the field. When the game time hits “0″ it will also generate a “horn”, this horn can also be generated by the Timer at any time. The program can handle both “Stop” time and “Running” time methods of timing.
It’s easy to install, and use. In a game the Timer starts and stops the clock(s) with the space bar button. To setup a penalty the tab button is used to select an open penalty clock to type the penalty length (e.g. 100 for 1:00 minute). The Esc button blows the horn. It’s as simple as that.
Where did the idea for Lax Timer come from?
There are times during a typical lacrosse game when the timer is responsible for multiple things simultaneously, for example, start/stop the clock, monitor remaining penalty times, monitor remaining game time, countdown penalties, and countdown game time, blow the horn, etc. Juggling these tasks is stressful and error prone with conventional timing equipment. It’s also stressful on the Timer’s voice to yell out the countdowns loudly over a typically noisy field. Over the years we tried many different timing products including stand alone stopwatches, multiple line stopwatches, custom Lax Timer products, air horns, electric horns, etc. He tried it solo, and with penalty timing “helpers”. We were unable to find any products that solved the problem, so he set out to develop a software program to automate many of the timing tasks.
There were several factors in Kenn’s background that made this possible:
-He is the head of a software company
-He is an engineer by training, with an extensive programming background.
-Many years previous Kenn had been in charge of an organization that developed the first computerized timing system for auto racing.
When did you decide to bring your product in to fruition?
At first the program was intended just for Kenn’s personal use, however, after games that first year (2007), officials, coaches, and even players would come up to the scorer’s table and compliment the program. Nolan had the idea of setting up a web site to make the program available to other timers.
Did you face any obstacles or difficulties along the way? If so, what were they?
The main difficulty has been getting awareness of the product. We are running Lax Timer as a nonprofit, self funded, company. Our main goal is not to make money but to make available a tool to other Timer’s out there that can make timing more enjoyable and more accurate, to give back to the lacrosse community some of what we’ve benefited from all these years of Nolan playing this great sport. So we take any sales money and just plow it back into the cost of running the web site, and with whatever is left over we put into search engine advertising.
What can Lax Timer offer that the run of the mill timer can’t?
-Simultaneously control game clock and 6 penalty clocks with one button
-Program monitors status of countdown timing
-Program automatically voices the penalty and game clock countdowns (either on laptop speakers or optional external speakers). A male voice is used for the game countdown and a female voice for the penalty countdowns so that there is no confusion as to which countdown is being performed.
-Program generates a horn sound automatically when game clock hits 0
-Timer can keep his/her head up to follow play, instead of continually looking down to monitor clocks. This leads to more accurate timing, especially on loud field where official whistles may be hard to hear.
-Timer can’t forget to make countdowns.
-Complex situations, such as simultaneous game time countdown (quarter end) and penalty end countdown, are handled automatically.
-The officials, coaches, and players are more confident in the accuracy and objectivity of timing (for example, the timer cannot count fast when his team is in the lead and time is running out.)
-The timer job is less stressful, and more fun (get to see more of the game) so it’s easier to find volunteers to agree to take the job.
-Unreliable air horns are not required (except as backups).
How many programs are currently using Lax Timer?
Since the software is basically just downloaded from our web site we don’t know much about how it is used. Once in a while we’ll get an email from users requesting a special feature. We have lacrosse customers around the U.S., and we happen to know it has been used also to time an indoor hockey season.
What’s next? Any plans in the future for Lax Timer?
We recently developed a custom version of the product at the request of a customer to run on a $300 Netbook. The small size, low cost, portability, and general popularity of the Netbooks means that we will probably make the Netbook version a standard offering to other customers.
Longer term, we are looking at porting Lax Timer to smartphones (e.g. IPhone, Blackberry, etc.). There are some tradeoffs to a smartphone approach, particularly the small screen, but a growing number of people are buying them and carrying them to games anyway, so no extra hardware cost would be required (aside from the optional speakers).
For a free 30 day trial of the product visit LaxTimer. Let us know how it works for you and your team.