Category Archives: Zebras

The importance of US Lacrosse Certification

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US Lacrosse

2015 will Mark my 42nd  year playing or coaching the great game of lacrosse.  Lacrosse has given me so many wonderful things over the course of my life,  from bonding with my family to helping young people achieve their goals.  I have had the pleasure to play the game at a high level and sharing championships with my teammates.  I have been honored to speak at the US Lacrosse Convention (15 times) as well as coach the US Lacrosse All-American Classic with some of the best players in the country.  I have given clinics, run camps as well performed many speaking engagements around the country.  I am a member of the Georgia Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

All of these things are awesome and they make you feel good inside however the most important thing for me is teaching the game and teaching it the right way.

I derive great pleasure in teaching young people our great game and I love watching other sports and coaches so I can become a better coach.  I sometimes watch basketball or hockey games and practices.  I see drills and skills being taught and I have the ability to take someones drill or technique and turn it into a teaching moment for me.

Today I would like to introduce you to the US Lacrosse Certification program.  US Lacrosse is the governing body of the sport but in my humble view the apex of lacrosse training on both the women’s, mens and officials side of the game.   US Lacrosse is partnered with The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) which is the top group of spreading a message of positive reinforcement and sportsmanship.  Components of PCA are part of the US Lacrosse Certification process.

Last Spring I completed the US Lacrosse Level Three Certification which is the highest lacrosse certification you can obtain.

The program is made up of three levels of instruction and at each level you receive expert advice on coaching philosophies, team building, skill development, tactical and positive coaching techniques.  Much of the instruction is taken online and there are a few in person classes you will have to complete.  Trust me it is all very worth it.  You will not only become a better coach you will also become a better person for completing this training.

If you are new to the game or are teaching at a younger age group Level 1 is all you may need.

I have the pleasure of coaching from Pre-K to High School so it was important to me to reach young people at the correct age and skill set.

Listed below are the various levels of certification and a link to get started.  Don’t delay become a better coach today!

Level 1

Level 1 is designed to introduce coaches to the responsibilities and philosophies of coaching and how to provide a safe and athlete-centered environment that emphasizes positive growth and sportsmanship. The Level 1 curriculum provides the tools to teach rules, basic individual skills, and basic team concepts to beginning players of all ages. This baseline training is relevant for all lacrosse coaches, regardless of experience.

Level 2

Level 2 certification is tactically and practically focused. Coaches will receive detailed instruction on building the tactical elements of their team based on overarching principles for offense, defense and transition. The Level 2 curriculum is geared toward coaching players who have an understanding of the basic skills and objectives of the game. Coaches will also learn how practice planning fits into overall tactical objectives for their season.

Level 3

Level 3 certification focuses on high-level tactical and practical skills. Coaches will receive detailed instruction on pregame preparation and tactics of the game. Coaches will also engage in critical thinking activities to build a higher lacrosse IQ for themselves and their team. The Level 3 curriculum is geared toward coaching players that have a deep understanding of the objectives of the game.


See ya on the field,


Coach Lou

Re-Post Warm Up and Stretch

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As promised here is another great post on the importance of stretching:

I wish I could count the number of players I have seen pull or tear a muscle but I do not have enough fingers and toes to count that high. Every year during the first week of practice someone howls in pain and frustration after a wind sprint because their calf seized up or their hamstring got pulled tighter than a guitar string. I played lacrosse for over ten years and I’ve run consistently for over three years. I have pulled my hamstring one time.

I stayed nearly injury free through all my athletic endeavors because of two things. I warm up and I stretch.

The importance of warming up and stretching cannot be overrated in my opinion if they are done properly. I list below a very simple and quick routine that players should do before a practice or game especially if it is cold outside.

Gordon’s Get Rocking Warm Up and Stretch Routine

  1. High Knees Slowly, Stand in Place – 30 seconds
  2. Run in Place – 30 seconds
  3. High Knees Run in Place – 30 seconds
  4. Heel Kicks Run in Place – 30 seconds

That is a brief two minutes. After that you should be breathing harder and feeling warm. Now we turn it up a notch.

  1. Line Hops Left to Right – 15 seconds (as fast as you can)
  2. Line Hops Forward and Back – 15 seconds (as fast as you can)

Now your legs from your calves to your butt should be good and warm. You should be breathing nice and hard and feeling good.

  1. Legs wider than shoulder width bend at the waist and reach for the ground – 20 seconds
  2. Right leg forward left leg back. Bend at waist over the straight left leg and try to touch your chin to your knee – 20 seconds
  3. Repeat the above stretch with your right leg forward again try and touch your chin to your knee – 20 seconds
  4. Grab your left ankle with your left hand behind your back and pull till you feel a stretch. Use your stick for balance – 20 seconds
  5. Repeat the above stretch with your right leg. Use your stick for balance – 20 seconds
  6. Get on hands and toes. Pitch your butt into the air like a tent and drive your right heel to the ground – 20 seconds
  7. Repeat the above stretch this time driving your left heel to the ground – 20 seconds

If you did that warm up and stretch routine you spent just under five minutes while targeting your hips, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. That is five minutes of taking care of your body and lowering your chances of pulling a muscle during a game or practice. Feel free to add any moves you want to this routine but if you are going to do this do not go through the motions. Really give it your best to get a good stretch. Your body will thank you and you will hopefully have years of injury free lacrosse ahead of you.

A Big Move

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I’ve put off writing this post for the last several weeks. Since I accepted the job offer from US Lacrosse to be their new Men’s Officials Education Program Manager I experienced a wide range of emotions. From major excitement at the opportunity to work my passion of officiating lacrosse and finding new and interesting ways to train other officials to understandable anxiety about leaving my home state, close friends, and family. I’ve put off writing this post because it is hard for me to write about leaving the people and places I love and cherish. I am sad to leave Georgia and I am certain I will feel even sadder as I drive away today, but I am happy to be moving to Maryland and I am certain I will feel even happier as I get closer to my new apartment in Towson. Despite all the happy and sad feelings I’m experiencing there is no way I’m moving without a final post. So here it goes…

I started playing in the mid-90’s, began coaching around 2004, and stepped onto the field as a certified official in 2008. Looking back on more than a decade of involvement with Georgia lacrosse as a player, youth coach, referee, officials trainer, program coordinator, and blogger I keep asking myself where did the time go? I played or officiated at nearly every school that has boys lacrosse in Georgia. I streamlined the AYL website over several versions while self-teaching myself web development. I wrote my first post “Perfect Practice” back in August of 2010, and found a niche writing about positive coaching and what I consider the real goal of all youth sports: teaching life lessons with a fun activity. I officiated the 2014 6A State Championship game, fulfilling a goal I had in front of me since I started officiating. I am grateful that I had the chance to do so much in Georgia for the game that I love, but looking back at every lacrosse experience I’ve had none of it was possible without my family and my friends.

With AYL my parents, Mary Jo and Lou, had faith in me that I could learn how to manage an entire weekend of games as a teenager and could rebuild our business’s website despite no formal training in web development. It would have been much easier just to hire out the job to another person or company, but they trusted me to build something better than we had years ago and I never looked back after that. When I started writing regularly in 2011 my parents helped me comes up with ideas and my sister Caitlin, another fellow writer, helped encourage me and even edited my book! I learned so much about effective management from my father, and got my just-get-it-done attitude from watching my mother dive into work with a zeal I’ve seen few match. We’ve been through a lot as a family and come through it all closer. I’ll miss being at the field with everyone this fall, but I’m looking forward to the holidays!

I still have not wrapped my brain around not reffing the upcoming season with my fellow GLOA officials. Since freelance work meant I never set travel limits in our assigning system I was fortunate to work with nearly every official in our association. When I started making training videos a few years ago the board could have easily told me to stop, but they noticed I had a burning passion to make educational materials so they encouraged me to make more. In six years with the GLOA I’ve had roughly 800 conversations with my friend Andy Halperin going over rules, weird game situations, rough games, and congratulating each other on big game assignments. Greg Hite and I have spent countless hours revising youth and adult training PowerPoints while traveling over the state to teach classes. Those two guys are some of my closest friends and while I don’t have the space to write about every ref that has helped me – I will say that my couch is open if any GLOA refs are up in Baltimore. I’ll miss training, pre-gaming, and reffing with all of you. Thank you so much for the great times on and off the field!

Now since my posts always have some educational element to them I think it is best to wrap up my final post with a message specific to the coaches, officials, parents, and players who read this blog.

To the coaches: You’ll never go wrong if you’ve got a good game plan. Focus on fun, fundamentals, honoring the game, and sportsmanship and your youth team will do great. Remember that you’re coaching with not against the coach on the other side of the substitution box. Ensure that each practice and each game is focused on making your players and yourself as good as they can be that day.

To the officials: Ref youth games. You will learn how to manage weird stuff that rarely shows up in higher level games that happen with regularity in youth games. You will also have the opportunity to work with less experienced adult officials and youth officials who will benefit greatly from how you approach the game. While some youth games can get hot with loud coaches and parents, the majority are pretty fun because the kids are having a great time playing their favorite game.

To the parents: I’ve written a lot about how many parents are wild on the sidelines and have a less than realistic understanding of athletic scholarship opportunities, but one thing is always clear to me. You love your kids. I’ve seen the moms and dads at AYL comforting their son after a tough loss, and celebrating with him when his team wins. I’ve listened to quiet words of encouragement given as families walk to the field, and I’ve also listened to the loud words of encouragement given from the sideline. We don’t have youth lacrosse exploding across the country without parents who want their child to learn a fun game and absorb valuable lessons in the process. The one lesson I hope parents reading this blog have taken to heart is to enjoy the process. Your child won’t play in youth games forever and no matter how hard you try you will not remember the final score of any game in ten years, but you will remember sharing concession stand fries with your son after his game because he begged you to stay and watch the older boys play. I know because those are the memories my dad and I have so soak up every bit of your time at the fields and help keep the environment positive for all.

To the players: I still can’t believe how much all of you grow each season. Not only in height but in attitude. I’ve seen young kids whose only goal in life was to stuff themselves with as much BBQ sandwiches and candy as possible at the main tent grow into leaders on their team and capable youth officials who eat slightly less BBQ sandwiches and candy. Here is my advice to the young players reading: Number one is play what you love to play. If you love lacrosse keep playing lacrosse. If you love baseball play baseball. If you love swimming keep swimming. If you start any new sport stick with it to the end of the season even if you don’t enjoy it. You’ll have more seasons in front of you, but your experiences will be richer if you try different sports. Number two is listen to your parents. They’ve been around longer than you and have way more experience about navigating life than you can possibly imagine. Tell them you love them often because when it comes time for you to leave you’re going to wish you told them that every day.

Well, I think that about wraps this post up. Today I hit the road with my belongings packed up and a new city and a new job awaiting me. I will miss Georgia, but I’ll miss my friends and family even more. Thanks for the wonderful memories everyone, and I can’t wait to see you all again!

See you on the field,