Over this past weekend, a number of amazing lacrosse coaches, players and I were up at the crack of dawn, on a Saturday, to head to Trilogy Lacrosse’s fundraiser event called “Stick It To Sandy” in Manasquan, NJ. The event had a range of MLL and college talent, from players to coaches, and all were excited to be there, despite the early rise. Two clinics were held: one for a younger group aged 5-10 and an older group aged 11 and up; the older group had a better turnout, but I think that has to do with Trilogy’s presence of All Star Teams of high school players along the Jersey shore. After the workshop, the MLL players put on a little 5v5 exhibition match – the players and parents enjoyed it; I was the referee.
We ran through a bunch of drills, and learned a few things, but mostly did some drills; the teaching onus of the clinic was more on the coaches during their interactions in drills, which was totally fine, seeing that we had a 3:2 player to coach ratio. Actually, it was more than fine, because I believe this type of one to one interaction between coach and player is invaluable, and, sometimes, can become lost in drills and tactics.
There is literally nothing like being told exactly what you could have done better, and why, directly after making that play; the play is fresh in your mind, and, if you’re open to it, it is the best time to learn. With all my experience as a head coach for youth all-star teams, as well as on staff as a high school and college coach, I can see how easy it is to get caught up in all the plannings; let’s do this with so-and-so, at this practice, we’re going to run X to the players can learn Y, then, when they know Y, we are going to move on to Z, and so on. What about when M or H gets thrown in the mix? How can we ignore it?
This post is really about remembering, as a coach, to pay attention to each drill as the player does it as much as you can and, coming right behind this, finding the time to take a player or a couple players and speaking with them one to one or in a small group to exemplify what this drill means to them and how they can best learn from their lacrosse practice; this opens up discussion and you can look into a kid’s eyes and see if he really understands what you’re talking about – being relatable, as a coach or, simply, as a fellow human being, is how we most connect with people and convey messages in an understandable way.
So take a second, get specific and tell the player why - this word is worth stressing, over and over and over and over again, because that’s the key to making anything relatable; the best coaches and communicators understand their audiences’ frame of mind and level of understanding, then tailor their message around it. A one to one coaching experience really gives the coach the opportunity to see if their messages that are transmitted on a macro level are being understood, when analyzed through a number of micro perspectives; coaches can learn just as much from their players about what affect and merit their teachings truly provide overall.
To close, I just wanted to note that I have 11 days left on Zen, Lacrosse and the Art of Stringing, and that the style of writing in the book, as well as in the DVD, is one that constantly requires you to self-inquire about your game, which could be viewed as kind of a two way communication with yourself, that will hopefully end in finding the best pocket, or the best “extension of your body”, for you. Any lacrosse player could learn a ton from either; this here is a holiday gift that will also provide real, workable value that has a direct impact on their lacrosse game and how they respect and think of their pockets.