Tag Archives: explanation

Three Steps

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A few years ago I was paired up with two excellent youth coaches for a series of lacrosse clinics at an Atlanta middle school. The job was simple, but I had one problem. The kids were not responding to me very much. My coaching friend laid it out to me during the second clinic. “Gordon – with kids it’s best to explain things as simply as possible. That means take all the explaining you are doing and shorten it into three steps.”

He was right. As soon as I shortened my explanation of a new skill, the kids zeroed in on what I was talking about and executed the technique well. They were paying attention better too. Earlier in the clinics, when I was explaining a drill they would zone out and get that “dude, get on with it” look on their faces. Kids want action, and lets face it, they have shorter attention spans than an adult. So we as coaches must tailor our explanation of skills, drills, and game strategy to a few easy-to-repeat steps.

Here is my extremely detailed method of picking up a ground ball:

  1. See the ball on the ground
  2. Yell “I got ball” or ball
  3. Run towards the ball
  4. Place your front foot as close to the ball as possible
  5. Bend down as low as possible
  6. Keeping your stick close to the ground, run through the ball until it is in your stick
  7. Give the stick a slight cradle as soon as the ball is in your stick
  8. Bring the head of your stick close to, but not touching, your helmet
  9. As you continue to run yell “Release!”
  10. Run in a wide arc to separate yourself from pursuers
  11. Once you are safely away from other players, look for the open pass or shot

Did anyone else get bored and wonder when the heck is this list over with? If you did you know exactly how a youth player feels when a coach talks, and talks and talks. The player is thinking, “when is coach going to get this over with and let us do a drill?” As I said earlier, kids crave action. So spend some time and review your talking points with a willing adult. If they get bored listening to you explain a drill, chances are your players will do the same.

Now lets take a look at my truncated, but still perfectly valid ground ball explanation:

  1. Bend down as low as possible
  2. Run through the ball until it is in your stick
  3. Keep running

Simple. Direct. Repeatable. When I explain how to pick up a ground ball to new players I start with #1, then restate #1 and state #2. Then I wrap up by stating #1, 2, and 3 together. That gets the technique drilled into the player’s mind effectively through repetition. By the time I am finished, all of the players are thinking “bend down, run through, and run.” That accomplishes the core skills required to pick up a ground ball.

Everything else that I listed above can be added to future ground ball drills. For instance, I don’t require players to shout out “I got ball” during the first ground ball drill they ever do. What does it accomplish to the actual task of picking up a GB? Nothing! Let the kids worry about steps 1-3, and then after a few repetitions, add in the ball shout.

So avoid bogging down your young player’s minds with extraneous detail. Save that for small group or one on one work. Instead, focus on shortening your explanations so you and your players can get to the action.


As always new post ideas may be emailed to rules@ayllax.com.

Every Lacrosse Signal

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This week is Rules/Officiating week. Two quick things before we dive in: The last post of the week will detail an officiating camp open to all 5th-12th grade AYL players, and any parents who are interested in officiating. Second, I will be detailing youth rules that may not be implemented in your local league. I highly encourage fellow youth lacrosse leagues to consider implementing one or two of the rules I will discuss that drastically improve player skills and are easy to get the hang of. Now, onto every lacrosse signal!

During my sideline Q & A sessions, I often get asked what a particular signal means. I explain the offsides signal, crease violation signal, illegal procedure signal, and more. I always get eyeballs that light up in understanding from the fans, especially youth parents who are brand new to the game. This sideline Q & A is not just great for the fans, it also helps me and my officiating partner during the second half. Because all the fans now recognize that the official knows the game, and they relax and enjoy the game even more since they now know what the officials are signaling.

All official lacrosse signals can be found in the back pages of the NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rulebook. They are broken down into three categories:

  1. Procedural Signals (timeouts, goals, stalling, counts, failure to advance, etc)
  2. Personal Fouls (slashing, tripping, unsportsmanlike conduct, ejection, etc)
  3. Technical Fouls (pushing, illegal procedure, warding, conduct foul, etc)

The video below details every signal in the back of the NFHS rulebook. After watching it you will be able to identify what any US Lacrosse-trained official is signaling during any lacrosse game. Also, any youth players who are interested in officiating can improve their signaling by practicing the signals in this video.