Tag Archives: fall ball

How Can They Get Better?

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How does a player get better to make a select/elite/travel team if they don’t make the team? This is a problem. The kids who make the team get concentrated lacrosse knowledge and the vision of a capable lacrosse coach. The kids that don’t are left to their own devices. Generally, the kids that make the team get better than the kids that don’t make the team. Then the next year rolls around – guess who makes the team? The same kid that made it last season. It’s a cycle that is a problem with select teams at the youth level. The question is how does a driven kid who was on the bubble at last year’s tryout break the cycle?

Notice that I said driven kid, not just a kid. If a player has drive and determination, at any level, I am paying attention to him. However, determination is not enough. That quality trait must be backed up with skill and as my good friend Andy says, “everyone can stand to have a better stick.” I believe that both drive/determination and skill can be improved upon by any kid, but it takes practice. Not just any practice, but focused practice.

What do I mean by focused practice? It is practice with a purpose. Anybody can go out and throw a ball against a wall, but not anybody can make a select lacrosse team. Those that make select teams improve their skill by:

  • Hitting the wall with his off hand for fifteen minutes, five days per week. Focusing on hitting the same brick every time.
  • When the player watches TV, he does it with a stick in his hand and a tennis ball in the stick.
  • During Fall Ball, playing almost exclusively with his off hand.
  • Asking coaches questions during practice, or for clarification on a technique after practice.
  • Taking group or private instruction lessons (you can email requests for those to rules@ayllax.com).
  • Watching games on ESPN or film clips on YouTube.
  • Buying a rulebook and reading the rules.

That covers just a few things that players who make select teams do before tryouts. Now lets switch gears on improving drive or determination with a little story:

When I was seventeen I earned my blue belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. This was a big moment in my life. I spent three years training to earn that blue belt and it felt great when I finally got to tie it around my waist. A belt, though, only covers two inches of your rear. Your skill covers the rest of it. A short time after receiving my blue belt I went to wrestle with one of the older white belts in the class. I was overly confident that I could beat him.

We shook hands and he immediately leapt forward and sunk a quick choke around my neck. I tapped out in about three seconds, completely devastated. Here was this sixty-five, I’m not kidding, year old man who was a white belt, and he just tapped me. I didn’t know what was wrong so I sat on the side of the gym and watched for the two hours as this old man kept rolling. After the live roll was over and everyone was sweating and exhausted I had a lightbulb moment. He had tapped me because he had the determination to keep wrestling win, lose or draw.

I learned an important lesson that night, and I vowed that I would be the last person off the mat for as long as I trained. I spent the next two years sticking to that vow and I saw my skill and conditioning reach higher levels than I ever thought possible, but it never would have happened if I hadn’t gotten tapped out in three seconds by an aging white belt.

My experience is that determination can be learned and improved upon if one thing happens. You have to lose. You have to fall short. You have to fail. I believe that failure is only permanent if you allow it to be so. I am reminded of a quote by Michael Proust – “Happiness is good for the body, but it is grief that develops the strengths of the mind.” I’ve grieved over my failures when they occurred. I was crushed when I got tapped by that old man, but it was good for me. It helped me develop a deeper reserve of grit and desire. Going through failure, though, is not enough to improve your determination. You must also do something about it should you want to succeed.

I am a personal fan of writing down goals and objectives for life, work, and my hobbies. I find that if I don’t write them down and stick them in a prominent place, that I forget about them. For example, I have a lifetime goal of running an ultramarathon. On the wall in front of my bed I have dozens of pictures of ultrarunners in some of the most beautiful and harsh environments on Earth. Every morning I am reminded of that goal. Those pictures fuel my desire to reach that goal when I feel like it is a million miles away.

So to all the players out there who didn’t make the travel team last year, and to all the players who may not make the team this year I have these steps for you to follow, should you wish to:

  1. Write down why you want to make your particular travel team. The why is important, you don’t want to forget why you are driven to do something.
  2. Write down how you are going to make that goal a reality. This can include practicing, watching film, sleeping with your stick, or anything that you can think of to make you a better player.
  3. Print out pictures of your favorite lacrosse player and post them in a wall in your room. Use that for fuel on days when you don’t feel like practicing.
  4. Finally, stick your written down goals on the wall right next to your bed. Every morning, right when you get out of bed, go read your goals. This will remind you every day what you are striving for and why you are sacrificing your time and energy.

I wrote this post because Atlanta Coyotes tryouts are coming up in November for all age groups. Not everyone will make the teams. If you do not make the team I want you to look back on this post and, if making the team is your goal, to follow the steps outlined above. I sincerely believe they will make you a better lacrosse player, but also a far more determined individual than you thought you could be.

Cheers,
Gordon

 

First Day Of Fall Ball

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What a terrific start to the Fall Ball season! I wanted to give everyone my impressions of how each age group did while they were fresh in my mind, so here it goes:

U9

  • We had three U9 games going on simultaneously so I was only able to see two of the teams in that age level play. What I did see what pretty impressive. Kids were picking up ground balls and moving to open space. They were looking for passes upfield. They were also stick checking very well.
  • The first day is always the trickiest day because everyone is excited to be out there, but also nervous about making a mistake. To all the players, please try not to worry about screwing up. It will happen, but try to focus on doing something positive the next time you have the ball.
  • Last observation at the U9 level is that, at least in my game, there were a few times when the ball was on the ground and a player would just put his stick over the ball and leave it there. That is considered witholding the ball from play, and will result in a turnover. Try instead to run through the ball on the ground. I promise the lower you get the greater your chances at getting the ground ball.

U11

  • I was on the field for most of the U11 games and I saw some pretty good lacrosse out of each team. The goalies for each of the teams stepped up big time in the cage and had some excellent outlet passes to breaking midfielders.
  • While we had few penalties in the U11 games, I must ask the coaches to emphasize less stick swinging and more body position when playing defense. There were times when a player would swing his stick and just miss the player he was guarding. Then he would be completely out of position and he would get burned by a dodge. Players, remember that you play defense with your feet first, body second, and stick third.
  • Last observation at this level is that there were too many individuals and not enough team play. Frankly, I expected exactly that. Get the ball to your perceived best player and let them waltz into the defense and shoot. Unfortunately, that does not translate well to higher levels of play and will start to work less and less as teams get better on defense each week. More passing on offense to generate high-percentage shots should be what each team is looking for.

U13

  • Man does the U13 teams have some athletes! I was running up and down the field on fast breaks and clears just to keep pace with the players. Most of the players did an excellent job picking up ground balls and running to space. Then finding the open man to pass to for an easy shot.
  • As in the U11 observations, there were individuals playing the game and not necessarily playing as a team. I must emphasize the importance of communication at this level. The game is faster and requires more talk between players so that everyone knows what is going on. As the weeks progress, the players will learn more about one another, and we will start seeing the teams gel.
  • Last observation at the U13 level is that we cannot have competitive games if players do not show up. We had two or three teams where we had to scramble to find additional players to field a full ten on ten game. Players, get on your buddies and find out why they weren’t able to make it. Remember that the Master Game Schedule is available for all families to plan out your weekends so your child can participate in the games.

It seemed to me that our kids left the field with smiles on their faces, which tells me we had a great day of lacrosse and a fantastic start to the Fall Ball season. As always, if anyone has any rule questions that they didn’t get the opportunity to ask during the Sideline Q&A you can send them to rules@ayllax.com.

Cheers,
Gordon

 

 

Why So Serious?

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I just don’t get it. Why take Fall Ball so seriously? Here’s a little confession of mine: I find those who take fall lacrosse games seriously a good bit silly. I just don’t understand how someone can get all wrapped up in a game that is occurring outside of the regular season. Where standings and a championship don’t hold any water. So your team won every Fall Ball game, congratulations, but I’ll care about how you do in the spring.

Maybe it’s the official in me that find it difficult to relate to most people watching and participating in sporting events. Even during regular season games I don’t care who wins or loses as long as the game was played safely and fairly. Somehow Fall Ball morphed into a fun time to get your skills sharp for the regular season into a full-blown battle royale of bragging rights. When the truth is Fall Ball is a tool for improvement, nothing more.

Want to take something seriously about Fall Ball? Worry less about the score and your team’s standings. Worry instead about improving. Take your improvement as a player, coach, fan or official seriously.

I cannot stand seeing a dominate left-handed player still dominating with his left hand during Fall Ball games. It infuriates me because that individual is not getting better as a player. So he can go to the goal with his left hand, slip past every defender with his patented face dodge, and rip the ball in the top right corner with his lefty submarine shot. So what? That player is not improving, he is simply dominating. Domination is for the regular season. Improvement is for the off-season.

Instead of dominating with his left hand that player should be focusing entirely on making his right hand game as good as his left. So what if he gets stripped of the ball? So what if his new dodge fails? So what if his righty shot misses the cage so high that the ball could strike an orbiting satellite? So what? So what? So what? Nothing matters! The fall season is the time for improvement and taking your game to the next level.

So let’s all stop and take a breath for a moment. Let’s remember that Fall Ball is only a serious undertaking when the goal is improvement. It is not for bragging rights or domination. It is for getting better.

seriously guys

 

As always, post ideas may be emailed to me at: gordoncorsetti@gmail.com

Cheers,
Gordon