Over the past, maybe, two years, things have really, really started to even out, in terms of the spread of talent, in high level college lacrosse play – anyone can beat anyone. I mentioned this is a previous post about the top 20 poll being pretty much useless (although we need it to determine the at-large bids). What this really comes down to is a rise of fundamentals from the the bottom up, which, again, speaks to the advancement of the sport.
Right now, as an 8th grade coach, I feel like I am right on the cusp of fundamentals and the extraordinary every single time I go to coach. What you start to see, over time, is that the fundamentals of each player are the foundation of your lacrosse house; once you have your foundation, you can build as you please. If your team, overall, can be at a relatively even level overall, when speaking strictly about fundamentals, you can start to see the extraordinary plays come out and begin to coach at a different level. At high level high school and college level, this base of fundamentals is expected, as it should be.
At this time of the sport, the umbrella of necessary fundamental skills is getting larger and larger – I remember a time when shooting a “no-look” shot when driving around from X, as an attackman, and getting a good shot on goal was something only a few players could do with much accuracy and success; now, at the college and even high school level, this is something an attackman is almost expected to be able to do. When coaching, it is your job to determine what kind of fundamental base your team has, decide if it needs some more firming up, and go from there, with them always in the back of your mind (fundamentals).
The point of saying all of the above is meant to exemplify that, by focusing on getting your players to a place where they are fundamentally sound, in thinking like a teammate and in physical ability enough to meet the standards of your league, focusing on fundamentals will ensure that a team will progress together, then you can sprinkle in smaller tidbits of advanced playing techniques. Obviously, different players progress at different levels, but I’ve found that the players who are at the highest level on your team just need a bit of help with keeping their fundamental; they will usually become extraordinary and creative all on their own.
Although, even when you get to the point where you are putting in more advanced offensives or plays, as a team or individually, each player should know why this play works based on the fitting together of certain fundamentals. As a coach, I know how easy it is to get caught up in trying to coach your team to a victory, which is sometimes necessary, but, mostly, you just need patience in continuing to push the fundamentals; the more a player feels sound in his fundamentals, the more that player will feel comfortable doing the extraordinary.