Tag Archives: fire

Getting Noticed During A Tryout

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This is a repost of an earlier article I wrote entitled, “How To Have A Good Tryout.”

Rule #1 – Hustle Everywhere

  • Coaches and evaluators are looking for the players who hustle all the time. I don’t care if you are the bomb-diggity player of your lacrosse team. If you do not hustle you will not make a select team. So how do you show hustle everywhere? Simple – do not let a coach see you walking. Jog from your car to the sideline. Move with purpose from drill-to-drill. Run at a million-miles per hour when you need to slide or get open. I kid you not, there will be evaluators who write down: “Great player but does not run anywhere.” Prepare yourself for two hours of exertion – if you are not tired at the end of a tryout something is amiss.

Rule #2 – Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

  • This should go without saying, but you need to be prepared for a tryout. That means waking up on time, eating a solid breakfast, drinking water well before the tryout to stay hydrated, and having all of your required gear. Do not be the one player who comes up to a coach without a glove. That tells me two things. One, this player does not care about his equipment. Two, this player wants the coach to bail them out of trouble. Check your lacrosse bag when you pack it at night for all your gear. Then check it again before you leave the house in the afternoon.

Rule #3 – Pay Attention

  • The tryout moves with or without you. Coaches are going to explain a drill one time, then they will start the drill. Coaches will not waste time because one player out of fifty was not paying attention and needs them to repeat the instruction. Every time I see a player with wandering eyes while I give out instruction, I make mental note of their number, and it is not a positive mental note. Each player at a tryout should give their supreme effort to pay attention at all times. If you do that, you will not get left behind.

Rule #4 – Caution, Fast Objects

  • Coaches want players who can play fast. That means running hard, passing the ball quickly, and sliding with speed. They want Attack players who will V-cut as quickly as they can. They want midfielders to fly off the wing lines on a face-off. They want defenders to slide aggressively, and they want Goalies to get the ball upfield quickly. However, above all of this, coaches want the ball passed fast. I guarantee you they will not care if you drop the ball occasionally, so long as you are firing that ball out of your stick like a clown out of a circus cannon.

Rule #5 – Talk!

  • I hate silence at a tryout. As a coach, I am going to be completely hoarse by the end of the day, and players should be tired from moving their mouths throughout the practice. Coaches want to hear players talk constantly. That means saying “I’ve got your help,” “One more,” I’ve got your left,” “Fire, Fire, Fire!” The only time you should not be talking is when the coach is talking. When you are in a drill, make it your mission to be the best communicator out there.

Rule #6 – Don’t Wallow In Your Mistakes

  • You are going to make mistakes at the tryout. No one has ever had a perfect tryout, and no one ever will. Tryouts are meant to challenge a player, and challenge means adversity. You will drop a pass, miss a shot, or get beat on a dodge. Do not make a big deal out of it. The coaches are looking for a player who makes a mistake on one play, and then comes roaring back with a vengeance. They want a player who cares enough about a mistake to change their game to fix it, but does not concern themselves with a past mistake. Coaches want forward-thinking players. If you screw up, accept your mistake, and then fix it. Players who can do that prove to coaches that they deserve a shot.

Rule #7 – Do You Want It? (Also known as “fire in the belly”)

  • Some players try out, but they don’t really want to try out. Maybe their friends were on last year’s team. Perhaps their parents want them to play on a travel team. You need to have the fire to be on an elite team. I’ve been doing this for so long I can look at a player for five minutes in a scrimmage and tell if they have the fire in the belly to be on the team. These are the players who follow Rules 1-6. They hustle, they talk, they move fast, but above all they want to be at that tryout, and they show that through their actions.

Rule #8 – Leave Everything On The Field

  • While I do not guarantee that following Rules 1-7 will earn you a spot on a travel team. I do guarantee that if you leave everything on the field, you will have a successful tryout. Remember, if you put your heart into your game a coach will notice you. They may decide to wait a year, but you will be on their minds as a player who puts all the effort they have into the game of lacrosse.

 

Shoulder Angel vs. Shoulder Devil

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Good versus Evil. Right versus Wrong. Morality versus Immorality. Shoulder Angel versus Shoulder Devil.

All of these capture the inner struggle we all have to do the right thing. This struggle is characterized as our conscience, and we all have one. Yet, for young players their conscience, like themselves, is immature. This is not to say that young players do not have a conscience. Just that is is currently undergoing construction.

Parents and immediate family members lay the deep foundation of conscience. My father and mother constantly told me that being a good person meant doing the right thing when no one was paying any attention. Those messages permeate deep into the minds of young players, as it went deeply into mine. The next level of conscience-building comes from forces outside the immediate family. Friends are the first that come to mind. Players, have your parents ever told you to choose your friends wisely? My parents told that to me constantly, and I chose friends who liked me for me and always had my back. I avoided the kids that wanted to party all night, drink, and try drugs. Instead, I was lucky to have friends that cared about me and I continue many of those friendships to this day. It is my hope that your teammates become close friends to you today and remain that way for years to come. Because I believe that good friends will keep you on a good path.

The last force that helps to develop a good conscience are teachers. I use that term broadly to encompass actual teachers, coaches, church-leaders, role-models, etc. For the purposes of this post, I will be focusing mainly on coaches and our responsibility to ensure that kids listen to their Shoulder Angel.

I have said before that sports are a microcosm of life. It allows kids to experience victory and defeat, and all the emotions and feelings that come with each. However, every sport has a dark side which if left unchecked, will ruin any kid’s experience on the field. That dark side is evident when players don’t listen to their conscience, and allow anger, rage, and frustration to rule their minds. When that happens cheap hits and fouls are committed, often with an intent to get back at another player for a perceived slight, or, even worse, to injure another player. These moments have happened, do happen, and will continue to happen. Sorry to say, but players lose control over themselves sometimes and will occasionally do something that is just plain wrong. So how can coaches use these dark side situations to their advantage? How can we teach young players to control themselves when everything around them seems so chaotic?

Option 1, Fight Fire With Fire:

Fire With FireSometimes, a player will do something so blatantly unsportsmanlike that the only thing to do is call the player out on it. Put simply, there is a lot of power behind a coach using his own dark side and scaring the heebie jeebies out of the player. For example, I did something downright ugly in a game many years ago. My coach (also my dad) got right into my grill and demanded that I explain myself. I was so taken aback by how angry he was that I chose to be the most sporting player I could be after that. Do I remember what I did that set my father off? Not at all. I just know that I’ll never do it again and I’m incredibly sorry that I did it. The point here is there is a place for anger as a coach, so long as it is used effectively.

Option 2, Create A Safe Place

Safe PlaceEvery player should feel comfortable coming to their coach with a problem. Especially if that problem is occurs during a game. If communication lines between players and the coach remain healthy, then players can talk through their issues with their coach. Coaches, especially at the youth level, should strive to become a safe place where players can voice their opinions and concerns. If you do this, players will think to tell their coach about unsportsmanlike behavior on the opposing team, so that he can handle it properly, and without the player having to get revenge against their opponent. Work on ensuring that players can come to you with any issue, and they will come to you if they have a problem in a game. Tell your players, “if someone is playing dirty against you I want to know about it, and don’t take it into your own hands.”

Whichever option you choose, remember they are not mutually exclusive. You are more than welcome, and encouraged, to use both.

To all of the players reading this blog, I want to request something from all of you – Do Not Sully This Game. That means, when you are fouled in a game, you don’t go looking for retaliation. That means, when one player calls you a bad name, you don’t reply in kind. That means when you step onto the field you leave the game better than you found it by your actions on the field.

Finally, I will leave you with a great and humorous video that showcases the contrast between the Shoulder Devil and the Shoulder Angel. Here’s a hint, the best part of this video is when Kronk tells his Angel and Devil to leave him alone and he goes with his heart. That is what conscience is really about.

Cheers,
Gordon

How To Have A Good Tryout

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With Coyote Tryouts coming up I have heard a lot of questions from players and parents about how to have a good tryout. The rules below come from my experiences trying out as a player, coach, and evaluator. Follow these rules and you will have a successful tryout, but remember, they are no guarantee for making the team. They will, however, improve your chances.

Rule #1 – Hustle Everywhere

  • Coaches and evaluators are looking for the players who hustle all the time. I don’t care if you are the bomb-diggity player of your lacrosse team. If you do not hustle you will not make a select team. So how do you show hustle everywhere? Simple – do not let a coach see you walking. Jog from your car to the sideline. Move with purpose from drill-to-drill. Run at a million-miles per hour when you need to slide or get open. I kid you not, there will be evaluators who write down: “Great player but does not run anywhere.” Prepare yourself for two hours of exertion – if you are not tired at the end of a tryout something is amiss.

Rule #2 – Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

  • This should go without saying, but you need to be prepared for a tryout. That means waking up on time, eating a solid breakfast, drinking water well before the tryout to stay hydrated, and having all of your required gear. Do not be the one player who comes up to a coach without a glove. That tells me two things. One, this player does not care about his equipment. Two, this player wants the coach to bail them out of trouble. Check your lacrosse bag when you pack it at night for all your gear. Then check it again before you leave the house in the afternoon.

Rule #3 – Pay Attention

  • The tryout moves with or without you. Coaches are going to explain a drill one time, then they will start the drill. Coaches will not waste time because one player out of fifty was not paying attention and needs them to repeat the instruction. Every time I see a player with wandering eyes while I give out instruction, I make mental note of their number, and it is not a positive mental note. Each player at a tryout should give their supreme effort to pay attention at all times. If you do that, you will not get left behind.

Rule #4 – Caution, Fast Objects

  • Coaches want players who can play fast. That means running hard, passing the ball quickly, and sliding with speed. They want Attack players who will V-cut as quickly as they can. They want midfielders to fly off the wing lines on a face-off. They want defenders to slide aggressively, and they want Goalies to get the ball upfield quickly. However, above all of this, coaches want the ball passed fast. I guarantee you they will not care if you drop the ball occasionally, so long as you are firing that ball out of your stick like a clown out of a circus cannon.

Rule #5 – Talk!

  • I hate silence at a tryout. As a coach, I am going to be completely hoarse by the end of the day, and players should be tired from moving their mouths throughout the practice. Coaches want to hear players talk constantly. That means saying “I’ve got your help,” “One more,” I’ve got your left,” “Fire, Fire, Fire!” The only time you should not be talking is when the coach is talking. When you are in a drill, make it your mission to be the best communicator out there.

Rule #6 – Don’t Wallow In Your Mistakes

  • You are going to make mistakes at the tryout. No one has ever had a perfect tryout, and no one ever will. Tryouts are meant to challenge a player, and challenge means adversity. You will drop a pass, miss a shot, or get beat on a dodge. Do not make a big deal out of it. The coaches are looking for a player who makes a mistake on one play, and then comes roaring back with a vengeance. They want a player who cares enough about a mistake to change their game to fix it, but does not concern themselves with a past mistake. Coaches want forward-thinking players. If you screw up, accept your mistake, and then fix it. Players who can do that prove to coaches that they deserve a shot.

Rule #7 – Do You Want It? (Also known as “fire in the belly”)

  • Some players try out, but they don’t really want to try out. Maybe their friends were on last year’s team. Perhaps their parents want them to play on a travel team. You need to have the fire to be on an elite team. I’ve been doing this for so long I can look at a player for five minutes in a scrimmage and tell if they have the fire in the belly to be on the team. These are the players who follow Rules 1-6. They hustle, they talk, they move fast, but above all they want to be at that tryout, and they show that through their actions.

Rule #8 – Leave Everything On The Field

  • While I do not guarantee that following Rules 1-7 will earn you a spot on a travel team. I do guarantee that if you leave everything on the field, you will have a successful tryout. Remember, if you put your heart into your game a coach will notice you. They may decide to wait a year, but you will be on their minds as a player who puts all the effort they have into the game of lacrosse.

I hope all of the players reading this are as excited about tryouts as I am. The other coaches and I will give you our very best, will you give us yours?

Cheers,
Gordon