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How To Motivate Young Lacrosse Players (Without Pressuring Them).

An interesting blog post from “The Ultimate Sports Parents Blog.”

“My young athlete seems to love sports, but just doesn’t apply himself. I remind him every day to practice more and concentrate more, but that doesn’t work. How can I motivate him?”

This is a question we often get from parents. They say their kids love sports, are eager to go to games, but seem to spend a lot of time fooling around during practice. Or they don’t like to practice.

What should parents and coaches do in this case?

First of all, you need to understand why your kids are playing sports in the first place. Keep in mind that they may be participating for different reasons than your reasons for wanting them to participate.

Talk to your kids–and observe them–to better understand why they like playing sports.

They often like participating because they want to be with friends. They like the social aspect and part of being a team. Or they may like competing. Or they may simply like the coach and want to spend time with him or her.

Once you understand why your kids are participating in sports, try to tap into those reasons…

Provide situations that your child will enjoy–playing in the park with friends–if they’re in it for the social aspect, for example. Or you might arrange neighborhood games if your child likes to compete. This will help provide the social support they need.

Be sure to separate your reasons for wanting them to play sports with their reasons for wanting to play…

For example, you may want your kids to play to get exercise. Or you may want them to play because you hope they’ll get a scholarship some day. On the other hand, they may want to play because they like being outdoors after school, or because a best friend is on the team.

Nagging kids to practice can backfire. It won’t support their own reasons for participating in sports. If they succumb to parental pressure, they’ll be playing for you–not for themselves.

That won’t lead to a positive experience. You want the drive to participate to come from within–not from you.

So how do you motivate your young players?


Build A Better Athlete: Maximize your gains after you train

From: ESPNHS

As part of ESPN’s Build A Better Athlete series, Sarah Snyder, coordinator of sports nutrition at University of Florida, has nutritious post-workout shake recipes that will help athletes maximize their muscle repair and growth.

“Right after a workout, the muscle-building and repair process begins. The longer you wait to take in nutrients, the longer it will take your body to absorb them and your window for recovery closes.

Each recovery smoothie recipe below includes some sort of protein, whether it’s yogurt, milk or whey protein. Protein repairs muscle tissue damage and stimulates growth after a workout. Whey protein absorbs in your system quickly, while casein protein continues the process.

The other key ingredients you need in your post-workout shake are carbohydrates. The sugar you get from chocolate milk or cherry juice are two good examples of carbohydrates.

Anything with a high fat content in the shake isn’t ideal because it takes longer to break down. So try not to go overboard on the peanut butter or use ice cream.

 POST-WORKOUT SHAKE RECIPES

Strawberry Banana Orange Smoothie
1 cup Greek yogurt for protein and probiotics
8 oz. of orange juice for Vitamin C
1/2 banana for potassium
1/2 cup of strawberries for Vitamin C and fiber

Very Berry Smoothie
1 cup Greek yogurt
8 oz. skim milk
1/4 cup frozen blackberries for antioxidants
1/4 cup frozen blueberries for antioxidants
1/2 frozen strawberries for Vitamin C and some fiber

Chocolate Banana Shake
8 oz. low-fat chocolate milk
1/2 frozen banana
1 scoop of 100 percent chocolate whey protein
Ice

Strawberry Banana Shake
1 scoop of 100 percent vanilla whey protein
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1-2 tsp. of honey
8 oz. of orange juice or skim milk

A shake is ideal for athletes after their workouts because it will digest quickly and will get nutrients in their systems right away.”

Share your recipes here.

 

 

 

What Boys Can Learn From Girls Lacrosse – Part 2

This week on this blog, we posted an article on what boys can learn from girls’ lacrosse. The article was re-posted on Lacrosse Playground and received several comments from what seem to be men, demeaning girls lacrosse as “inferior” to the boys’ game.  The comments called girls’ lacrosse “lame”  and the points present in the blog “a joke.”

First, the Lacrosse IQ blog is focused on developing the Lacrosse IQ for all players and to develop a higher IQ, players and coaches must become students of the game and sports overall. Closing the mind to other sports – including those across the gender lines — will retard the development of a higher lacrosse IQ. Simply, when boys call another sport lame and fail to open their minds to learn from it, they deny themselves the ability to grow as athletes and lacrosse players.  Lacrosse players can learn angles and anticipation from tennis, torque and follow-through from golf, bowling and baseball, vision from hockey and basketball, etc. If you’re not learning as a lacrosse player, you’re not growing.

Next, the post was written from the perspective of male lacrosse coaches, educators and former college players. The negative comments depict a pervasive attitude in men’s lacrosse that a sport without contact is less-than and provides no insights into the sport overall. This could not be further from the truth and frankly undermines the boys’ games and the development of players. Boys lacrosse players and coaches should be watching and learning from girls’ lacrosse and vice versa.  If you don’t, you do so at your own peril because those who do, will develop a higher lacrosse IQ.

While the warlike element of lacrosse is often touted, lacrosse historians remind us that it was called the medicine game and the creator game and was seen as a spiritual journey and that’s exactly how our boys and girls should view the sport… a journey.

Take the journey. Open the mind and develop the body. Grow your lacrosse IQ.

Please share your comments here.

What boys can learn from girls’ lacrosse.

A men’s lacrosse game may attract larger crowds but listen up, boys – there is a lot that can be learned from girls’ lacrosse and by no means should the female version of the game be ignored or downplayed.  There are some key differences between boys and girls lacrosse – from the physicality allowed to the sticks used to the rules enforced – that have changed the way girls are playing the game…and in a good way.

To begin with, girls’ lacrosse is a purer form of the game, with a lineage closer to the sport’s early history.  In the female version of the game, players abide by rules that are closer to the original regulations, with being “out of bounds” only recently resulting in a stoppage of play.

The sticks used in girls’ lacrosse have a shallower pocket than the sticks boys use in their games.  This lack of pocket depth forces girls to be more aware of where the ball is, since the ball is more likely to fall out of a shallow pocket.  For this same reason, girls also must be aware of their body positioning, grip placement, and stick location at all times since any false movement could mean loss of the ball.  From this, boys can see how increased awareness makes girls more attentive to the physical aspect of the competition and can learn to increase focus on the mechanics of the game.

Girls are also experts at defensive positioning.  Much like in basketball, girls’ lacrosse players are not permitted to openly check each other so girls don’t have the option of knocking another player out of position.  Instead, girls are always aware of their location and must be precise about their positioning.  If boys can add this additional consciousness to their game, they would be able to improve their method of body-checking while remaining in proper position to defend their goal as necessary.

Teamwork is also hyper-important in girls’ lacrosse.  In the girls’ game, each player needs to always be aware of their position on the field and communication plays a huge role in that.  When the whistle is blown to stop the game, girls are not permitted to move.  Therefore, they must think ahead when they see a ball going out-of-bounds.  It can be easier to beat someone one-on-one without the physicality allowed in boy’s lacrosse, so girls rely on their teammates to let them know when their competitors are in their area so they can make the moves necessary to retain ball possession.  Enhancing team communication for boys’ lacrosse can make a team stronger and more primed on both the offensive and defensive zones of the field.

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Why coaches need training, too.

Released only days ago, the 2011 US Lacrosse Participation Survey reported that more than 680,000 athletes participated on an organized lacrosse team in 2011, which is an increase of approximately 60,000 players since 2010.  This represents the largest one-year increase since US Lacrosse began tracking national data in 2001.

There is no doubt about it – lacrosse awareness is spreading and interest in the game is exploding.  While participation numbers are growing each year at every level of the game, more than half of the total players compete at the youth level (15 years of age and under).  And with all these new young athletes stepping up to the stick, the sport will, more than ever before, need experienced and knowledgeable coaches to train them.

At the younger lacrosse levels, many town teams are being coached by well meaning parents of players who want to help out and spend time with their children . . .but know very little about the game itself.  While this motivation is great, it would be even better if it were paired with training and lacrosse education.  New lacrosse players need to learn the fundamentals of the game early on and without an experienced coach their chances of doing so are slim.

Youth lacrosse coaches need to have specific skills that would not have been acquired along the way while coaching another sport or watching lacrosse on TV.  They need to be well-informed about lacrosse-specific skills, on everything from how variations in how a player holds his/her stick will change the way a player throws to why different offensive tactics will work for some teams but not others.  Good training programs will not only assist less experienced coaches to be positive role models and great motivators but will also educate them on how to effectively, safely, and age-appropriately coach young players.

Town programs work very well for instilling the love of the game in children but would be better prepared to develop more well-trained players by investing more resources in the training of coaches.  There are also certification courses available (such as the Coaching Education Program offered by US Lacrosse) for coaches to obtain necessary knowledge about the sport and about coaching, specifically.  Beyond that there are private clubs that may be able to provide additional training resources.

For a lacrosse player to advance and become a better athlete, he or she requires proper coaching, which might need to be found beyond the town program.  For a more advanced education, there are training academies and elite leagues that youngsters can participate in.  Similar to ice hockey, these training academies provide specific skill development that is not available at the town or school level.  These league teams consist of separate, individual teams made up of the best players and trained by skilled, certified coaches.

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So What Do College Lacrosse Coaches Look For?

Athleticism and Lacrosse IQ

University of Virginia’s men’s head lacrosse coach Dom Starsia discusses the qualities he looks for during the recruiting process. (Original link)

So What Do you Eat Before You Play?

Here are some youth sports nutrition tips from the JustMommies blog…

Offering high – carbohydrate foods (also called complex carbohydrates) versus high protein and fatty foods two to three hours before a game is very important to maintain the energy needed for them. Some examples of high-carbohydrate foods are foods such as pastas, breads and cereal which are digested quicker than high-protein and fatty foods. Unfortunately, most children, and adults, forget just how important nutrition is to good health and athletic performance.

Fruit is actually an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fluids and can be eaten one to two hours before a sporting event.  My children enjoy raw, dried and canned fruits or fruit juice before we head out to a game.

Fluids are extremely important, before, during and after a game and my children have discovered that staying hydrated makes for a better performance.  For elementary and middle-school aged children, eight ounces of water before, during and after the sporting event is extremely important, especially if the outdoor temperatures are high. During a game, athletes should be allowed to take fluid breaks when needed to maintain their best and safest performance, and of course, caffeinated and carbonated beverages are not recommended.

If your child tires easily in practice and appears irritable, and their performance suddenly declines, dehydration may be the cause. The following are more signs that your child is dehydrated:

  • Dry lips and tongue
  • Sunken eyes
  • Bright colored or dark urine or urine with a strong odor
  • Infrequent urination
  • Apathy or lack of energy
  • Thirst

So pack up those water bottles and sport drinks (and don’t forget the fruit) and head out after a healthy meal full of high-carbohydrates to enjoy your child’s sporting activity.

SO WHAT ARE YOU EATING BEFORE YOU PLAY? Share your tips here.

Read more: http://www.justmommies.com/articles/sports-nutrition-tips.shtml#ixzz1qQvhyCe4

Skills Every Child Can Master for Lacrosse (and Life) Success

For most parents, the ultimate goal of youth sports is to have a positive experience, one that will help their children grow in healthy physical and emotional ways.

The Blog, “The Sports Doc Chalk Talk by Dr. Chris Stankovich” offers this short list of important learning points to focus on throughout your child’s athletic career so that he/she will not only play to her highest potential on the field, but also use the sport experience to maximize her overall human development as well:

Process Goals – Most parents encourage their child to play hard enough to one day become the best kid on the team (or league).  There’s nothing wrong with this encouragement, of course, but keep in mind that all outcome goals (like becoming an All Star or team MVP) always begin with process goals. When thinking about process goals, keep in mind these are the types of goals that are fully under the control of the athlete (like maintaining a strength training program, running, mastering plays, etc.).  Outcome goals are not completely under the control of the athlete, especially if the goal is to win an award thats voted on by the coaching staff or league.

Focus - Parents can help their children with focus at very young ages by teaching the basics — like learning how to pay attention to relevant cues (i.e. the next pitch) while ignoring irrelevant cues (i.e. the people in the crowd).  The skill of focus is an important one, and can also be transferred to many other areas in life — including the classroom.

Resiliency – The old saying of “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up” may be one of the greatest lessons that can be learned through sports.  Resiliency, or mental toughness, is a terrific skill to help your child master as there are countless sport experiences that involve stress, frustration, adversity, and losing.   Resiliency also helps with motivation — another great life success skill!

Humility – Winning with grace and keeping the ego in check are skills parents can teach their kids through various successful sport experiences.  Humiliating, taunting, and embarrassing opponents are never good things – on or off the field.

Sportsmanship – Similarly to winning with grace, kids can also learn to be good sports during those tough times as well – like after a humiliating loss, or after experiencing a blown call by a referee.  Sports, like life, aren’t always “fair,” but what’s most important is to respect the rules and opponent at all times – even when spirits are down.

Dr Stankovich suggest you conduct your own family audit and see how your gang stacks up.

Please share other ideas here.

Girls Lacrosse Sticks: The Vanishing Art of Stick Tuning

Buying a new stick is like getting a new baseball mitt – it needs to be properly broken in before it can be used effectively. Most players and parents don’t realize this, and we see many “tennis racquets” – new or restrung sticks that haven’t been adjusted – in our training sessions. The pocket of a girls stick must be adjusted to make it easier to catch, cradle, and throw while also conforming to the rules – primarily that the ball, when placed in the pocket of a stick held horizontally, must show slightly above the top of the stick’s sidewall.

The complexity of stick adjustment depends on how the stick was initially strung. Manufacturers string sticks differently, and not always to the player’s advantage. We always recommend purchasing an unstrung head, and then having a qualified lacrosse shop string it. The cost differential for this service is minimal, and the product is typically higher quality. You can usually even select customized colors for your strings.

The shooting strings, which run across the top of the head and are usually different in color than the rest of the pocket, need to be regularly tuned. These strings are made of nylon, so they stretch over time and must be monitored for maximum performance. Also of note, we’ve actually seen new sticks sold without shooting strings – or with these strings left untied at the ends. Clearly, some manufacturers don’t hire knowledgeable people to string their sticks.

A properly-tuned stick enables a player to catch more easily, dodge more effectively, and shoot more accurately. Sometimes, players aren’t aware their sticks are “out-of-tune,” and compensate by altering their throwing motion. Sadly, many recreational and middle school coaches are unfamiliar with proper stick adjustment, so girls who begin playing in third or fourth grade can easily develop poor throwing and shooting habits just as they’re beginning to learn the sport.

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