Tag Archives: fall

Absorbing Hits And Falling Down

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In my “Kids Need To Get Hurt” post I argued that in order to deal with pain kids need to experience pain, but I rarely argue a stance without providing what I think is a possible solution to the problem.

First, we need to state the problem and here is what I think the problem is:

Kids need to be protected from pain and injury but still have fun doing what they love to do

Here is my problem with the above problem – it is impossible to protect anyone from everything. Since the ground is hard and solid enough to support a person’s weight, it is also hard and solid enough to cause injury if a person falls onto it. Since we can’t get protect children against the laws of physics we must work with the laws.

Here is my solution to the protect children from injury while letting them have fun problem:

Kids need to learn how to absorb impacts to lessen their chance of injury while still having fun doing what they love to do

Since we cannot take protection to the logical extreme of placing all children in padded rooms and forcing them to use virtual presence devices to interact with people outside of their padded rooms, we should be teaching children how to fall down safely.

I officiate every age level of lacrosse and very few players know how to fall down properly. When they get hit or trip themselves up they instinctively reach out with their arms. Unfortunately, this action causes them to fracture fingers, forearms, elbows, and collarbones. A straightened arm is a rigid structure with very little “give”. The players who don’t straighten out an arm to brace for impact don’t do anything at all, and they hit the ground with a sickening thud, which whiplashes their head into the ground. Now they are dealing with spine, neck, and cranial injuries along with a potential concussion.

All because no one ever taught them how to override their natural instincts when falling down.

I spent six years training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing to learn how to better defend myself. What may surprise many people is that most self-defense classes start with the lesson on how to fall down if someone pushes you over. The reasoning is simple: it is very hard to defend yourself if you get pushed over and smack the back of your head against the concrete. You’ll be dazed, and unable to prevent the coming beating. In order to avoid this scenario, self-defense classes teach individuals how to hit the ground hard without impacting their head with a high amount of force.

The video below explains how to perform a break fall when hit from the front, and how to perform a roll through when hit from behind or the sides. If players practice these moves on a padded surface enough times, they will develop muscle memory that will kick in if they get hit or tripped on the lacrosse field. I played for ten years and I hit the ground a lot, but I never sustained serious injuries because I knew how to roll through contact with the ground and pop right back up.

A key point to remember about these techniques – You will get hurt when you perform them on a hard surface. That is the point. Your entire body will hurt and be extremely sore, but the one part of your body that will be almost unaffected is your head.

I believe the above video is one potential solution to the problem of kids getting hurt playing a contact sport. They may still get hurt performing a break fall or a roll through, but their chances of getting seriously injured are lessened as the force from the impact is dissipated over their entire body and not on their head or extremities.

We can’t keep protecting kids from everything that may hurt them. What we can do is responsibly teach them that there are dangerous things out in the world and how to deal with them.


Getting The Most Out Of Fall Ball

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It’s that time of year again. School is back in session, the summer is coming to a close, and Fall Ball is right around the corner. For a lot of people, new and experienced to lacrosse, there are a good amount of questions about what to expect from a Fall Ball season, and how to get the most out of it. This season will mark my twelfth fall lacrosse season. I have seen the best and worst aspects of the fall season. It is my goal that the 2012 AYL Fall Ball season exceed the best that can happen in a season and minimize or eliminate the worst that can happen. To reach that goal, it is imperative that all parents, players, coaches, and officials share the same expectations for Fall Ball, and understand what Fall Ball is, but also, what Fall Ball is not.

What Fall Ball Is:

The fall lacrosse season should accomplish two things. One, foster a love of the game through fair play and sportsmanship. Two, learn new skills and improve existing ones. Every player, parent, coach, and official should sear those two things into their brain until they are unforgettable. Fall Ball is primarily a time to have fun, learn something, and, dare I say it, goof off. Win or lose, everyone participating in a game should enjoy the game. Too often we get wrapped up in the competitive nature of lacrosse. We focus on the importance of winning a game that has little to no bearing on anything, and lose sight of the bigger picture. That big picture is simple. Just ask yourself, “Have I, through  my actions, improved this game?”

What Fall Ball is not:

The fall lacrosse season cannot be about who is king of the mountain. If your sole goal in Fall Ball is to win the end-of-season championship game, I have a little secret for you. It does not matter. Fall lacrosse is not designed to crown a champion. It is meant to grow the game and the skills of those involved. Fall Ball is not the time for players to do what they have always done to earn success, and it is definitely not a time to degrade the spirit of the game because it’s just the off-season. Remember that fall lacrosse is not the regular lacrosse season. There are no stakes that anyone is playing for.

The boiled-down point of fall lacrosse is to something new that will translate to success in the regular season. That’s it. A player can spend all fall practicing his roll dodge in every game. That player gets better at the roll dodge and can then apply his newly learned dodge during a game that has an impact during the regular season. The players that approach fall ball with the goal of improving will earn playing time in the spring. Those that want to dominate with their right hand all season long, and neglect their left hand, will find themselves riding the bench during the regular season in favor of the kid who decided he was going to play the entire fall season with his off hand.

So what are the expectations that every player, parent, coach, and official should have about Fall Ball? There is only one. The expectation is that the players, parents, coaches, and officials get better. How then do each of these groups get better? Let’s dig into that.

Getting Better As A Player:

  • Work your off hand. Work your off hand. Work your off hand. I would continue typing that phrase to infinity because the point cannot be emphasized enough. Work your off hand.
  • Work on skills that you are uncomfortable or unconfident with. The more comfortable you get at executing a properly timed roll dodge, the more confident you will get as you practice and apply it.
  • Work on being louder. Lacrosse does not reward the timid. Be loud on the field until it becomes a habit.
  • Work. This is the critical time for you to develop into a better lacrosse player. By the regular season you are too late. Use your time during the off season to work to get better.

Getting Better As A Parent:

  • Hold up there. What could I get better at? All I’m doing is watching. These thoughts may be running through your mind if you are a parent of a lacrosse player. There is so much you can do as a parent to be a better fan and good steward of the game.
  • Be a positive cheerer. Refer to this post: http://ayllax.com/language. Fans exist outside of the game, but they impact the flow and atmosphere of the game nonetheless. I hate having to stop a game to chastise a fan, but I will do it to preserve the integrity of the game. Work during the offseason on being a positive, upbeat cheerer. That way it will be habit during the regular season.
  • Wait to critique or give advice. Win or lose, your child is dealing with complex emotions and thoughts after a game. The drive home is not the time to dig into your child’s game because the game is over. Wait until dinner. When the emotions from the game have dissipated, and you and your player can approach how the game went as rationally as possible.

Getting Better As A Coach:

  • Chill out. You are not coaching in an NCAA final. You aren’t even coaching in a state playoff game. Win, lose or draw no Fall Ball game has any impact on regular season standings. So try to keep the game in perspective.
  • Develop and refine your coaching philosophy, then stick to it. Coach Shaun Lux has a simple coaching philosophy, “Honor the Game.” If his actions honor the game, then he knows he is doing a good job. If his actions run contrary to that philosophy, he knows it is time to change something. Fall Ball is the time to change so that you are primed for the regular season.
  • Make improvement in your players, not winning the game, your sole mission in life. If your team loses a Fall Ball game because you made every player play with his off hand. Congratulations, your chances at winning a game during the regular season just went up.

Getting Better As An Official:

  • An official cannot practice to get better the way a player does. The only way officials get better is game experience, and Fall Ball provides a multitude of games to work. Back-to-back-to-back games provide a way for an official to practice one thing throughout the day to get better at. Whether that thing is signaling penalties, being in proper position, or throwing the flag higher.
  • Cultivate a calm demeanor. I believe that officials get calmer with more game experience simply because they see more situations. Therefore, when they come across a situation in a regular season that they saw during Fall Ball, they can respond to the situation calmly and confidently.
  • Do not goof off. The responsibilities of a lacrosse official are: safety, safety, safety, fairness. In that order. While Fall Ball may not be the regular season, the players are still equipped and playing hard. You do not get to take a play off to wonder about what you’re going to eat for dinner. Take the fall season as an opportunity to increase your level of focus on the field. You will find that your focus during a regulation game in the spring improves considerably.

So what have we learned? Fall Ball is a time for improvement for everyone involved in the game. It is a place where everyone should feel comfortable trying something new to make them a better player, parent, coach, or official. Don’t lose sight of the big picture in favor of focusing on a win in Fall Ball.

FYI, I have settled into my class schedule and will be doing one post a week on Mondays. Any suggestions for post topics can be emailed to gordoncorsetti@gmail.com.


Why Don’t You Practice in the Fall?

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Because I said so.

Well, not exactly. I could say we do not schedule team practices during Fall Ball because Coach Lou says no practices. Yet, that is still short of the mark.

I could say there are no set practices because that is how we always do things during the fall at AYL. Still, repeating the mantra of tradition for tradition’s sake is a painfully weak argument.

I need a good theory that I can back up and will address player and parent concerns during the fall. Since we are close to starting our Fall Season, it is pertinent to state the AYL position on this issue directly.

Your league should have practices during Fall.

    • Occasionally, I am confronted with this statement before or during the fall season. We at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse believe Fall Ball is just that, Fall Ball. It is a time for players of every ability level to share the field and learn lacrosse through game experience. We believe set practices should be reserved for the competitive season, which, for lacrosse, is during the spring.

I am concerned my child will be intimidated or not learn as quickly because they are a beginner.

    • Believe it or not, your child is going to get a lot of practice. Our goal during Fall Ball is to be very intense about being very laid back. Players go out to win games, but their primary focus should be on working on new skills. So the experienced factor lessens a bit as the more experienced players work on their left hand, or weak-side dodge. This provides a more level playing field for the new player who is learning to play with their strong-hand and get a feel for the game.

We only see our coach once a week, and that is during the game. How can he learn what is best for my child?

    • Fall equals fundamentals more than any other time of the year. Because coaches spend less time in organized practices, they use what time they have before and after games to stress the basics of proper play. New players should go up to their coaches and request different positions each week so they can get an idea of what they like to play. Once they settle on a position, the coach can tailor their lessons to that player’s position.

My player is brand new and is nervous about starting a game.

    • Perfect! Nervousness before the unknown means your child is completely normal. We have staff and S.T.A.R.s at every game, which allows us to have eyes on lots of players at the same time. Each of our adult and high school staff members have the freedom to go up to a new player who is struggling and give them one or two pointers for the rest of the game. This is individualized attention on a very large scale. For instance, by the end of the season I probably help at least fifty kids with picking up a ground ball, to throwing, to playing defense. Add Coach Lou, Shaun Lux, Kevin Lux, Andy Halperin, and all of our high school and middle school volunteers, and that is a lot of attention from experienced lacrosse players.
    • If you or your player is especially concerned about starting the first game, or any future game, please tell a staff member. We are there to help.

Players cannot improve without practice.

    • Yes and no. Practice at it most basic element is the separation of game components. Fall Ball allows players to experience the flow of the game, which no practice or scrimmage ever gets across. We keep the body checks down so players focus on throwing stick checks and dodging against a defender throwing checks. We keep the atmosphere relaxed so kids do not feel the overwhelming pressure to win at any cost. We do mandatory substitutions at specific intervals to ensure everyone is getting game time. Ultimately, Fall Ball is practice for the spring.

I want my player to get some practice in. Are there ways to get instruction on non-game days?

    • Atlanta Youth Lacrosse will offer beginner clinics during the first few weeks of the season. These clinics are still TBD, but they will focus on fundamental skills that every player needs in their back pocket. We also have the Lux brothers at Lux-Lax.com. You may view the Lux’s basic information on our Biographies page. These two brothers do great work with players in individual and group lessons.

The overarching theory is keeping the games fun and relaxed while recharging the batteries for new and experienced players alike. Every player can suffer from burnout if games feel like life and death every weekend. We at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse want to eliminate the burnout factor in the fall so players feel recharged and excited about the competitive Spring season.

Featured Image Credit – www.trialx.com