Sometimes young players will do things that defy logic and common sense. The youth lacrosse player is supposed to make mistakes, but it is difficult for us adults to understand why those players commit the same mistake over and over again.
Over the years I’ve had players do the following multiple times over the course of a season:
- Shoot the ball when outside of the box or from beyond ten yards
- Clear the ball to the middle of the field in front of the goal
- Not substitute through the box
- Lunge when throwing checks
- Drop their heads when missing a pass, shot, or turning the ball over instead of getting into the ride
- Rake the ball instead of running through it
- Try to pick up the ball one-handed through traffic and getting their crosse checked out of their hands
There are certainly more mistakes that can and have been made in a youth lacrosse game, but those are the ones that stand out. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a coach at the U9 level up through the college level yell out, “why did you do that?” Sometimes players do stupid things on the field that don’t make sense. Part of coaching is accepting that odd mistakes will happen and then dealing with them immediately so they do not snowball.
Still, it can get incredibly frustrating when a player commits the same mistake in nearly every game despite everything you’ve coached that player to do. All I can say is that it takes time, but if you allow yourself to show your frustration it will take longer. I had a young player who would never pass the ball on a fast break. He ran with his head down and would eventually run straight into a defenseman instead of passing it to the open player for a wide-open shot. This happened in every practice and every game. My assistant coaches and I did not lose our cool, but we always told him to keep his head up and make the pass when he was covered.
One game this player had the ball on a fast break and he passed the ball to the open player when the defender slid to him. The open player took a shot and scored. My coaches and I were stunned. This player finally did what we wanted him to do. Once he made that pass, he was a different player. He kept his head up and scanned the field for open players for the rest of the season. All it took was one moment and a lot of perseverance.
Try not to get frustrated when one of your players commits the same mistake. Be patient and know that your job is to keep giving the best advice you can to your player until they get to their moment. Eventually they will try things your way and then they will realize that their way is not the best way.