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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?


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

Help maximize your child’s lacrosse potential

Your child’s learning to play lacrosse? That’s awesome – it’s a wonderful sport with deep historical roots and an emphasis on speed, endurance, coordination, and teamwork. And it’s lots of fun.

As a parent, you want to make sure your youngster gets the most out of their new pursuit – in terms of both exercise and enjoyment – while maximizing their potential. Of course, there are a number of factors that will influence your child’s ability to reach that potential.

One of the most important of these factors can actually come directly from you. Your perspective on competition and its role in your kid’s life will absolutely influence their athletic experience. If you communicate the upbeat message that sports are fun, and that you’re proud of his or her efforts on the field, your child will internalize this positive input and get greater enjoyment from practices and games.

Access to high-quality training is also very important. The earlier your child begins learning proper technique, the better. Once a bad habit forms, it’s very difficult to “un-learn” – your child will need even more training to help eliminate flawed techniques. So provide excellent instruction from the start, and you’ll enhance your youngster’s enjoyment and pace of improvement.

Other factors that directly impact lacrosse potential are:

  • Athletic environment (does your child have a safe, comfortable place to practice and play?)
  • Involvement by parents and siblings (are sports part of the positive family dynamic?)
  • Exposure to other sports. When a child plays multiple sports, they have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of athleticism. They maximize the development of a collective sports IQ by learning different skills and how to play their best in a variety of scenarios.
  • Practice. Any child who wishes to improve skills (no matter how much innate talent they possess) must practice regularly.

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What Makes a Great Lacrosse Player?

We’ve all seen them – the truly great players we look for on TV, buy tickets to watch perform, or wait on line to get autographs from. But how do great players actually become great players?

In lacrosse, as with other sports, some players are born with an upper hand. Genetics undoubtedly play a big part in the skill level of any athlete, with every kid being pre-disposed to a certain level of capability. For example, a child whose parents were both top-notch athletes probably has a better chance of inheriting prowess for the playing field.

But genes are far from the sole factor in determining who will grow to become a standout performer. There are also some key personality traits that most great lacrosse players share, including competitiveness, drive, and a focus on accomplishment.

Great players are dedicated to a training regimen. Not only do they make time to practice on their own, but they also utilize proper technique at all times, so it becomes a habit.

In addition, exposure to high-end training and as large a competition pool as possible can help a talented player become even better. Particularly when they’re young, children who get the opportunity to play a range of different sports against excellent opponents will progress much more rapidly. A healthy dose of advanced competition drives players who are already motivated to learn more, play harder, and practice longer.

Another significant factor that’s often overlooked is zeal for the game. No matter how much natural talent a child has, and now matter how exceptional the quality of their training, if they don’t love lacrosse, they ultimately won’t excel. Instead, they’ll be better off simply looking for another sport in which they’re more interested. Because if there’s a single trait literally every great lacrosse player possesses, it’s a true passion for the sport.

 

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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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Practice and Commitment Leads to Some SICK Stick Skills!

FROM OUR FRIEND BARRY MARENBERG’S BLOG

Posted by Barry Marenberg on February 1, 2012

At the beginning of every lacrosse season – no matter what grade/age I’m coaching, we spend a great deal of time working on the fundamental skills: passing, catching, groundballs.  We then move on to shooting and dodging, defense, rides and clears, etc.  To master these skills takes a great deal of time and commitment and those who do commit are able to see the fruits of their labor as they develop.

Coach B's Lax Blog

We all know there are some great college and professional lacrosse players out there – both past and present.  Over the years I have seen players do things that are just mesmerizing.  The Gait brothers’ air dives, the Powell brothers’ crease dives, Kyle Hartzell’s rusty gate checks, etc.  This weekend I watched as Team USA lacrosse took on the University of Denver.  Now Team USA is comprised of professional lacrosse players.  Denver is a top-notch NCAA Division I COLLEGE team.  One would think that a team of professional superstars would rout a college team.  Not quite!  Denver took Team USA to overtime and lost in sudden death.  A lot to be said for both of these team.

Denver is led by All-American Attackman Mark Matthews, who has demonstrated some unbelievable lacrosse moves in the past.  He did not disappoint this weekend either.  Take a look at Mark Matthews (#22) “sock dodge” through the Team USA defense in the video below.  They never saw it coming!!  Very impressive!  I had to rewind the DVR at least a half a dozen times to watch it in amazement.

As effortless as Mark Matthews makes this look, I’m pretty confident that he put endless hours in practicing this dodge.  And so, the lesson – AGAIN – practice hard fellas.  If you commit to it, it will pay off for you.