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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.

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.

Lax Coaches: Study Says Develop Teamwork by Focusing on Self-Improvement

Lacrosse coaches and parents would be wise to read the current research from Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports.

Here are some excerpts from the study:

Playing in an atmosphere that focuses on player self-improvement versus player competition creates a sense of teamwork and develops initiative, social skills and a sense of identity, report the authors of the study from the Department of Kinesiology institute.

“The research adds to the growing body of knowledge that shows coaching actions and the team climates they create have important influences on the personal development of youth,” Gould said. “Our data suggests if coaches want to develop life skills and character in youth, it is important to focus on player self-improvement more so than winning.

The results clearly show that the more coaches create caring and task-oriented climates, the more likely important positive developmental gains will occur. Creating an “ego climate” was found to be the single most powerful predictor of negative youth experiences.

“Coaches should create a climate or atmosphere where kids feel cared about, valued, safe and supported,” Gould said. “These positive things should occur while at the same time avoiding the creation of an ego-oriented climate focusing primary attention on comparing themselves to others.”

Do you agree? Share your opinions here:

 

Click here to learn more: 
http://www.educ.msu.edu/ysi/news/2012-Jan-25-YES.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120209172922.htm

 

 

Drop that Stick: Lacrosse Success Begins with Bare Hands

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about lacrosse? The most common answer would probably be a player scooping and tossing a ball with their stick. In fact, most people would likely say that lacrosse revolves around having exceptional stick-handling skills.

eye hand coordination lacrosse

But the truth is that becoming a successful player actually begins by putting the stick down. Before someone can learn the finer points of using their stick, they first must condition their body to become attuned to the basic physics of the sport.

 

A large portion of learning to play lacrosse comes from the ability of each player to strengthen the weaker side of their body without use of the stick. New players, like just about everyone else, have a dominant hand – and therefore center their talents on the use of that one hand. Yet it’s imperative that lacrosse players learn to use both “sides” of their bodies; to, essentially, become ambidextrous.

Some of the basic means by which lacrosse players can increase their competence with both hands is by practicing basic skills minus a stick – like simply throwing and catching a ball with their weak hand. Because handling a lacrosse stick requires a player to have control over both hands, becoming comfortable in advance with utilizing both sides of the body leads to a better transition into using a stick.

Successful stick-handling also depends significantly on hand-eye coordination. While simply catching and throwing a ball without a stick will help improve such coordination, doing so while also running or moving in various directions will add finesse and help developed enhanced conditioning. Discipline in these areas can significantly improve a player’s ability when the time comes to pick up a stick.

Other exercises to improve hand-eye coordination include:

• Lie on your back and throw a ball straight into the air … then catch the ball with your other hand. And be sure to throw right and catch left, then switch to throwing left and catching right.

• Stand straight, feet planted firmly. From behind your back, flip a ball over your shoulder, catching it in front of you with your other hand. This is an excellent way to rapidly improve enhance hand-eye coordination. And again, make sure to toss right and catch left, then toss left and catch right.

• Stand straight, feet planted, and flip a ball over your shoulder … but this time, catch it in front of you with the same hand that flipped it. Obviously, you’ll want to do this exercise – which is terrific for increasing hand speed and coordination – with both your left and right hands.

The best lacrosse players aren’t good because of their ability to handle a lacrosse stick. Rather, they’re good because they’ve conditioned their bodies in a manner that enabled them to become exceptional stick-handlers. In essence, having control over one’s body is the key to success.

LEARNING HOW TO LOSE CORRECTLY IN LACROSSE

Winning in youth lacrosse is important, but teaching life lessons is paramount. Learning how to lose is just one of the important life lesson of youth sports. Here’s a few key points from an interesting post from JBM Thinks blog.

“Losing is not fun for your young athlete. But it is inevitable, and teaching your child how to lose properly is just as important as teaching manners, honesty, and responsibility.

If you have a child who goes berserk at a loss, or at the very least, handles it in an unsportsmanlike way, these suggestions might help.

As parents, we must teach our kids that everyone fails, and you can’t win all the time. Our job is to help them learn to deal with it constructively and help them grow through the pain.”

Do you agree? Share your thoughts and suggestions.

Welcome to Lacrosse IQ.

Welcome to Lacrosse IQ. Our goal is providing young lacrosse players with the tools they need to become better athletes. Since players have only limited time to spend on the field each day, we’ve designed this blog specifically to help them – as well as their parents – learn more about the sport they love, while they’re online.

Learning any sport requires a great deal of practice, but few people know that truly mastering a sport involves more than just regularly showing up to practice. In fact, there are multiple facets of lacrosse that go virtually unnoticed by those who haven’t received formal training.

Through Lacrosse IQ, we’ll take an intellectual approach to instruction in the art of lacrosse. We’ll explore the psychology of lacrosse, along with the science behind the sport, to help players develop an “out-of-the-box” perspective on acquiring new skills. More specifically, we’ll present visitors to our blog with many different angles of looking at the sport – angles that many coaches and players simply may not be familiar with.

On Lacrosse IQ, we’ll introduce new lacrosse topics to players and parents, to help them significantly broaden their knowledge based related to all aspects of our sport. These topics will range from special, on-field lacrosse techniques, to advice on purchasing new equipment, to new methods of training, and much more.

Lacrosse, as originally developed by Native American players, was more than a game – it was a ritualistic rite of passage used in ceremonies and in the resolving of disputes. The sport has a remarkably rich history, spanning hundreds of years of ongoing development and change. It’s our hope, at Building Blocks Lacrosse, to preserve the traditions of lacrosse, while passing on our knowledge of the sport to those who are eager to learn.