Tag Archives: georgia youth lacrosse

September Beginner Clinics

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Due to popular demand and recently acquired field space, Atlanta Youth Lacrosse is excited to announce our September Beginner Clinics for boys grades 3rd-6th. These clinics are open to beginner players, i.e. players of one year experience or less, and are held at Hammond Park in Sandy Springs.

The September Beginner Clinics will focus on building basic skills that each player needs to be successful at lacrosse. We will teach: cradling, ground balls, catching, passing, dodging, and shooting. These skills will build on one another each clinic and each week. The goal is to make each player who shows up feel confident in the fundamental skills of lacrosse.

The SBCs are free-of-charge and will be taught to any beginner player that wants to show up at the appointed times below. We recommend players show up 10-15 minutes early for introductions and to get their gear on. Any questions about the SBCs may be sent to info@ayllax.com.

NOTE – These clinics are only open to 3rd-6th graders. We have limited weekly field space, and players under third grade will learn a basic skill during group warm-ups each weekend.

Clinics will run on the following Tuesdays and Thursdays:

  • 9/13 and 9/15
  • 9/20 and 9/22
  • 9/27 and 9/29

The times and groups are as follows:

  • 3rd & 4th grade: 4:30-5:25pm
  • 5th & 6th grade: 5:30-6:25pm

Players will need to bring:

  • All gear required for a game (equipment page)
  • Personal water bottle (we will have a cooler at the field just in case)
  • Enthusiasm (nothing beats a player who is willing to learn)

Once the September Beginner Clinics conclude on the 29th, Atlanta Youth Lacrosse will offer position-specific clinics in October. Information on those clinics including price and how to register will come out in later posts and newsletter communications. Again, all questions may be sent to info@ayllax.com.

Cheers,
Gordon

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

Cheers,
Gordon

I Can’t Turn Left!

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Many youth players act like Ben Stiller’s character Derek Zoolander when they first start out because they absolutely cannot go left. They are afraid that they will drop the ball, miss a catch, or take a bad shot with their off-hand. This fear eventually turns into a phobia, and they do not even bother rolling left when it is the best option available to them. Once a player starts habitually going to their strong-hand over and over again, they become “the best one-handed player in the league.” However, the best one-handed player is almost always beaten by an average two-handed player.

The prevention of lefti-phobia is simple. When a player first starts lacrosse, every drill is repeated righty and lefty. The new player is concerned with learning how to do something, and if we start these players out learning how to cradle, pass, and shoot right-handed and left-handed, they will not develop the off-hand phobia.

If you always go right, you run in circles

If you always go right, you run in circles

The big problem is most youth lacrosse programs in developing areas struggle with teaching kids to go left and right. The prevailing mindset is, if the kid can go righty then he can go lefty when he gets older. This is true for some kids, but not for all. I still officiate high school games where the majority of the players will not roll to their off-hand. Go up to the northeast and watch a youth lacrosse game. Most of those young players are confident with the lacrosse stick in either hand. Rarely do you hear, “he’s all right!”

So how do we turn a kid from a single-handed player into an ambidextrous one? The answer is forsaking their strong-hand for a prolonged period of time.

When I hit the tenth grade my playing abilities plateaued. I was a strong, capable defenseman when I went righty. Yet, I could never throw a good lefty pass on the run. I was unwilling, but not unable to go lefty so I decided to purge myself of my lefty fear and work on my off-hand.

Because I was so unconfident with my left hand, I needed to use it exclusively until my ability and confidence level rose. For two months I practiced exclusively with my off-hand in wall ball drills. I picked my stick up with my left hand, I ran with my stick in my left hand. I even ate using my left hand. By the time those two months were over, I was better with my left hand than with my right!

This situation is analogous to medicine, where prevention is often much less painful than the treatment. Not being able to go to your off-hand in lacrosse is a disease. The cure is practicing with your weak-hand until it becomes as good or better than your strong-hand.

Lastly, we are entering the Fall Ball Season. While we do not have set practices, it is important for coaches to encourage or require their players to use their off-hands. If your team is winning by a wide margin, tell all your players to go left for the rest of the half. If both coaches agree, they can tell all their players go go left for the last six minutes of each half. That way every player gets experience going righty and lefty while on the field, and the game still remains an equal contest.

Featured Image Credit – www.imdb.com

Cheers,
Gordon