Tag Archives: lacrosse

The Post Game Analysis

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Too many parents are wrapped up in analyzing their child’s game performance immediately following the final whistle. Before their little tyke even snaps the seatbelt into place they pepper their child with questions:

  • “How did you feel you played today?”
  • “Why did you miss those two easy ground balls?
  • “How come you didn’t pass the ball to that open player on the crease?

This is truly counterproductive and, I believe, damaging to your child’s participation in youth sports. Is it fair to question a ten-year-old child the same way reporters question Nick Saban after an Alabama game? No!

You may think you are doing your child a favor by immediately questioning them after a game. The reasoning is they will forget the game situation you are talking about if you wait until dinner or the next day before school. Much better to assail your child with queries on how they performed so it sticks with them until their next game. That way they’ll remember your wise words of counsel and not make the same mistakes the week before. Despite your best intentions, your post game analysis with your child is absolutely absurd.

When I coach youth kids after a win, loss or tie I always remind them to forget about the game. The game is in the past and the past is dead. They cannot go back and change how they did. They can only move forward. Constantly reminding your child about their mistakes after a game just keeps them in the past. When they finally get to their next game they will be so nervous about not making a mistake that they will probably make several. You think you are keeping your kid focused on their improvement, but you are actually hampering their development as a player. I know this because I’ve seen it firsthand.

I was officiating a tournament a few years ago and right when we stopped the game for halftime a father vaulted over the fence and ran to his son, the goalkeeper. I was seventy yards away, but I could hear the dad crystal clear because he was screaming vociferously. He berated his son’s play in the previous half and asked what in the world his son was thinking. I calmly walked over and told the father that fans were not permitted on the field. He said one more thing to his son and then stormed off. In the second half the goalkeeper’s team played very good lacrosse, but the kid was a mess. He was letting outside shots get by him that he had saved in the first half. His confidence was shot and he was so worried about playing badly that he played even worse. Here is the kicker – this kid was a junior in high school. If a sixteen or seventeen year old kid completely tanks in a game after his dad’s little talk what do you think is going through the mind your eight, nine, or ten-year-old player?

How did you teach your child to ride a bike for the first time? You were patient and firm. You kept your child that if they kept at it they will be able to ride the bike. When they fell down, you helped pick them up. When they skinned their knee on the concrete you bandaged the scrape. When they got in the car for a ride to school did you question them on their performance learning how to ride? I’m willing to bet significant sums of money that you did not. In lacrosse, and in all youth sports, your child is simply learning a new skill. Just like riding a bike.

I am not going to leave you with just why you should not engage in a post game analysis with your child. There is a responsible way to question and interact with your child after a game, and I am going to explain how:

  • Let your child bring up the game – Do not be the first to ask how the game went when you get into the car or sit down for dinner. Let your child bring up how the game went. Believe me, your child is analyzing and critiquing their game in their head, and they need no added thoughts until they are satisfied with theirs. But Gordon, what if my child does not bring up the game? Am I supposed to just let his good performance go without recognition, or his poor performance slide? Yes!
  • The Praise Sandwich – in “Parenting Young Athletes the Ripken Way: Ensuring the Best Experience for Your Kids in Any Sport,” Cal Ripken explains the Praise Sandwich. It is two parts praise to one part question. For example, “Johnny I really liked how you picked up that tough ground ball in the first half. Do you think you had some trouble knowing where you should shoot from? No matter what, I had a lot of fun watching you play and I hope you had fun too.” This is an excellent technique and one that I use frequently when coaching youth players. I always start off with a positive, slide easily into a question about what was going through the young player’s mind, and then finish with a positive affirmation. The player does not get his confidence crushed. In fact, they often respond with more capable play the next time they hit the field.
  • Avoid “I” statements – You are not playing the game. Your child is playing the game. Right now it is their game, not yours. When you state, “I would have done so and so,” you are injecting yourself into your child’s game. Instead ask, “What do you think you could have done differently in that situation?” That question puts the onus on the player to come up with their own idea for their own game. You’ll be surprised how insightful the answer can be.
  • Surprise your kid occasionally – Go out and get some ice cream or your child’s favorite pizza joint. Not after every game, but maybe after every third or fourth game. Tell your kid that you’ve been so proud of how much they’ve been hustling or listening to their coach that you decided to reward them. It is imperative that you focus on their broad performance rather then specific game situations for the reward. If you say, “You scored three goals today so I’m going to take you out for ice cream,” it makes the kid think he must reach that goal threshold to get a reward. Instead, take your kid out for ice cream because he ran super hard to play defense all game. That is a broader performance criteria that I believe any kid can reach.

Now you should know that I say all of the above not having kids of my own. I am speaking from all of the observations that I have witnessed on and off the lacrosse field. I’ve seen dejected kids not wanting to leave the sideline because they know they are in for a verbal tongue-lashing from mom or dad. I’ve watched parents take stats of their kids and then pour over them with their child. I have seen high school players and youth players crumble under the pressure imposed by their well-intentioned, but misguided parents. I highly recommend reading Cal Ripken’s book. It puts a lot of things in perspective and delves into more detail than I do here. It is my hope that any parent reading this will understand how to best approach their child after a competitive game. Do it right and your child will be a sports fan for life.

Cheers,
Gordon

US Lacrosse Position Statement on Recruiting

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Greetings Lacrosse Enthusiasts,

Listed below is the US Lacrosse Position Statement on Recruiting. Over my forty plus years involved in the game, I have been part of the many round table discussions and recently served on two lacrosse recruiting panels. I have close personal relationships with many college coaches in the country as I get them to speak at the US Lacrosse National Convention each year. This will be my eight year on the Convention Committee and third straight year as the Committee Chair.

I am glad US Lacrosse has come out with this position as I was a three sport athlete in High School and two sport athlete in college.  We are asking a lot of our children and pushing them down a path that may not have the results they dreamt about.

This is why our recreation league is made up of kids from different schools and why we only have travel lacrosse in the summer except for a get together here and there during the off season.

We want young people to play all kinds of sports so they have the opportunity to play what they want and have a say in the process.

So keep this in mind when you sign you son or daughter up to play for something.  Please remember a few things:

  1. Am I over extending my child?
  2. Are they being fair to their teammates by playing on multiple teams and not showing up for their games?
  3. Is my child getting burnt out?

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US Lacrosse Issues Position Statement on Recruiting

BALTIMORE, Oct. 18, 2012 – The US Lacrosse Board of Directors today approved the following statement on the complex nature of the collegiate recruiting process for high school student-athletes. The statement was developed by the national volunteer and staff leadership of US Lacrosse, in consultation with members of the coaching community, and it reads as follows:

US Lacrosse shares the concern of many lacrosse players, parents and coaches that the college recruiting process is not structured or timed in the best interests of high school student-athletes. The current landscape of recruiting events and club programs – some of which operate throughout the calendar year – has encouraged an increasing number of young student-athletes to forego a well-rounded high school experience based on unrealistic expectations and misperceptions about playing college lacrosse.

Parents are being led to believe that college coaches focus on recruiting only those children who play year-round lacrosse and who attend multiple, expensive recruiting events throughout the year. While some recruiting programs and events offer positive experiences for student-athletes, others – particularly those that conflict with the school calendar or occur outside of the traditional lacrosse season – threaten the well-being of student-athletes with incidents of injury and burnout. This intense recruiting culture also has eroded the work-life balance of coaches and parents.

US Lacrosse will continue to work with high school programs, clubs, tournament directors, the Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IMLCA) and the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) to provide the information, resources and leadership necessary to enable high school student-athletes and their parents to make the best decisions about their lacrosse experience.

US Lacrosse also encourages men’s and women’s collegiate lacrosse coaches to exert their considerable influence to lead reform of the NCAA recruiting calendar, limit the age at which student-athletes begin the recruiting process, and agree not to attend or participate in recruiting events that infringe on the academic calendar of student-athletes.

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See ya on the field,
Coach Lou

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