Tag Archives: poor

It Is Not The Stick Or The Ball

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I’ve noticed a curious thing in my high school games of late. A player takes a shot and the ball goes out of bounds on the end line. His teammate is closest to the ball where and when it goes out and is awarded possession for the next restart. Instead of quickly grabbing an available ball on the end line for a quick restart to attack the goal, the player picks up and drops one ball. Then picks up and drops another. By the time he finds a ball he is happy with the defense has re-set themselves and the quick restart advantage is lost.

The advantage is lost because the offensive player didn’t want to play with a slick ball, or, to use the lacrosse term, a “greaser”. I’m seeing more and more players shoot the ball fifteen or twenty yards above the cage and look at the head of their stick as if blaming the string job or complain to me that the ball was too slick. Let me be perfectly clear:

NFHS Rule 1.5.1 – The ball shall be white, yellow, orange or lime green and meet the current NOCSAE lacrosse ball standard. White balls shall be used unless both coaches agree prior to or during the game to use a yellow, orange or lime green ball.

I am a lacrosse official. I care about what the rules tell me, and the rules and NOCSAE standards tell me that there is no requirement for the lacrosse ball to be “grippy”.

This is a curious evolution of the player mindset. My father and his teammates played with older lacrosse sticks that did not have a lot of research and development money put into them, but the ball was still round and about the same size. When I started playing in the mid 1990’s, the stick shafts and heads were still in the infancy of development, but the ball was still about the same. As I continued playing more and more crazy lacrosse sticks came out. One shaft was wrapped in Kevlar. One head had a patented “floating sidewall”. Money was getting poured into better materials and better structural designs of lacrosse sticks as lacrosse became more popular.

This is where the curious mindset is coming from. Many players are spending $80 on a brand new lacrosse head and $30 for someone to string it up. When you spend $110 on a stick you expect it to do what you want. I played with a hand-me down stick when I started off. If my pass went awry I might have been justified in looking at my stick with a perplexed look, but as soon as I did that the opposing team would pick off the next pass and be on a fast break towards me and I would be out of position because I was staring at my stick.

The money going into lacrosse technology has removed the stick as the primary culprit in bad passes. Now, if the pass is poor it must be a slick ball that caused it. No way the $110 stick could be at fault, and there is certainly nothing wrong with a player’s passing skills. Nope, got to be the ball’s fault.

Let me be perfectly clear again:

It is not the stick or the ball. Your passes and shots are poor because of your poor skills.

Here is the good news about having poor skills. Practicing to improve your skills is free.

There are brick and cinderblock walls all over the place for a drastically price-reduced, completely free wall ball session. There are players on your team would would likely run out their front doors to go have a catch with you for absolutely zero dollars down.

The best part about this free practice opportunity is that every time you practice you invest in your lacrosse skills bank for future games!

Remember that you are not a professional tennis player who gets to choose which ball feels the best. If you get awarded the ball on a shot, pick up the closest one and step onto the field. Because if you keep screwing around to find the perfect ball I am going to bang you for a Delay of Game and turn it over to the defense for wasting everybody’s time.

Featured Image Credit – http://www.sporting-goods-stores.info/lax_subpages/lax_sticks.htm

Cheers,
Gordon

Planned Obsolescence

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Planned obsolescence is a business strategy in which the obsolescence (the process of becoming obsolete—that is, unfashionable or no longer usable) of a product is planned and built into it from its conception. This is done so that in future the consumer feels a need to purchase new products and services that the manufacturer brings out as replacements for the old ones” (http://www.economist.com/node/13354332).”

Have you planned obsolescence into your lacrosse game? Are you practicing with the correct technique every time or are you taking shortcuts during practices, games, and on your own time? If you have dreams of playing at the next level. Whether that be a travel team, your school’s JV or Varsity program, or college lacrosse you cannot plan obsolescence into your game. If you do, you will never make it to that next level.

I do not mean to sound harsh, but the truth is simple: players that practice as consistently and as perfectly as they can are the ones who will reach their goals in lacrosse. You play how you practice and you’re game will eventually rust out if you do the following regularly in practice:

  • Scoop the ball one handed instead of getting low with two hands
  • Let your stick hang to the side after a dodge
  • Shoot sidearm (I know it looks cool, but until you can shoot it overhand you don’t need to worry about sidearm)
  • Checking without moving your feet on defense
  • Twirling your stick when running down the field
  • Not stepping to the ball as a goalie

I could continue, but you get the point. Poor habits in practice lead to lacrosse skills that are obsolete. However, the basics are always on the cutting edge. If you master the basics, the foundation of your game, you can then experiment as you gain mastery of lacrosse. Believe it or not, there is a time and place for scooping the ball one handed, for raking the ball, for shooting sidearm. I don’t encourage my youth players to do any of these things because they have not yet mastered the basics of their game.

We as coaches have a responsibility to ensure that all of players coming out to play lacrosse do everything as well as they possibly can. They don’t have to be perfect straight out of the gate, but they need to have the fundamentals down. In all levels of lacrosse, but youth especially, the coach must be eagle-eyed to players taking shortcuts because they are tired, feeling a little lazy, or too cool for school. If you let your players take these shortcuts, you are allowing them to cement poor habits into their game before they’ve even stepped on the field in competition. Don’t allow your player’s game to break down and rust. Be vigilant as a coach and always insist that players do everything they can to enhance their game.

Here’s something I tell my players at nearly every practice: “I don’t care if you miss the ball, just hustle to get it and get right back into the drill.” Don’t allow your players to focus on their mistakes, reward the hustle if they miss the ball and you ingrain something in them much more important than any lacrosse skill you teach. You ingrain the desire to forget about the mistake and get back into the drill, which will serve your players well as they grow in this game.

FYI – If you’re in the Atlanta area, I offer private and group instruction. Feel free to email me at rules@ayllax.com if your player is interested in lessons. I specialize in the fundamentals, defensive technique, and speed and agility training.

Featured Image Credit – www.flickrhivemind.net

Cheers,
Gordon

Report on Diabetes and Obesity

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As an Exercise and Health Science Major some of my posts will focus on pressing health issues in our community. I was recently tasked with writing an epidemiological analysis of diabetes and obesity as a consequence of poor diet. For the past ten years the “obesity epidemic” has been touted as America’s next major health crisis. I was not fully aware of how serious this problem is getting or how difficult it will be to reverse the trend. Feel free to read the entire analysis below or download this PDF Version. I hope that after reading this report your reaction will be similar to mine.

Epidemiological Analysis of Diabetes and Obesity

The prevalence of obesity tips the scales at nearly forty percent of the United States population meaning over 120 million Americans are grossly overweight (Flegal, Carroll, Ogden, and Curtin). Because such a large number of people are obese the prevalence of diabetes jumped to 8.3 percent in 2010 affecting 25.8 million Americans (“National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011”). Unfortunately, because Americans are living more and more sedentary lifestyles and consuming both nutrient-poor and sugar-laden foods the incidence rate of both these conditions continues to rise.

While there are no hard numbers on new diagnoses of obesity, the increased incidence of it can be inferred from the Department of Health and Human Services which states, “the hospital costs alone associated with childhood obesity were estimated at $127 million during 1997–1999 […] up from $35 million during 1979–1981” (“Childhood Obesity”). That report accounts for inflation, which shows just how much strain obesity began having on the United States health care system just ten years ago. Since “obesity is a major risk factor for […] type 2 diabetes” the rise of new diabetes cases is dramatic with almost “1.9 million people aged 20 and older [being] diagnosed with diabetes” in 2010 (National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011”, “U.S. Obesity Trends”) While the incidence and prevalence data clearly shows the link between obesity and diabetes, the morbidity and mortality statistics put it into stark relief.

Because these conditions are usually listed as contributing factors that lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, neuropathy, certain types of cancer, and stroke it is difficult to properly document morbidity and mortality rates for diabetes and even more difficult for obesity (“American Diabetes Association”, “Childhood Obesity”). “In 2007, diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022 death certificates. This means that diabetes contributed to a total of 231,404 deaths” making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States (“American Diabetes Association”, “National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011”). It is troubling that many of the diabetes statistics note that the actual number of deaths may be far higher than reported because of undiagnosed diabetes.

Even more troubling is the lack of data regarding morbidity and mortality rates of obesity. The American Journal of Public Health reported in 2004, “estimates of deaths attributable to obesity can vary widely depending on the assumptions about the relative risks of mortality associated with obesity among the elderly. Thus, it may be difficult to estimate deaths attributable to obesity with adequate accuracy and precision” (Flegal, Williamson, Pamuk, Rosenburg). Considering how often the obesity epidemic comes up on the news it is surprising that the AJPH must call for better methods of studying obesity statistics, but even with broad statistics it is possible to get an idea of the damage obesity is doing in America. “It is frequently stated in scientific and lay literature that obesity causes about 300,000 deaths per year in the United States. It has been suggested that obesity is second only to smoking as a preventable cause of death” (Flegal, Williamson, Pamuk, Rosenburg). Even though the research is too broad for detailed rates of morbidity and mortality the fact that obesity is regarded as the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States is enough to demonstrate how serious poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle is to American people.

While diabetes and obesity continue growing at an alarming pace one rate remains fairly constant. Nearly all of the statistics indicate that diabetes and obesity are far more prevalent in low-income African-American and Hispanic communities (“Childhood Obesity”). Dr. Adam Drewnowski, Director of the Center for Public Health and Nutrition, states, “The present model holds that obesity is […] a socio-economic phenomenon. The lower cost diets tend to be higher in refined grains, added sugars and fat. Energy dense foods are not only palatable, but satisfy hunger at the lowest cost (Drewnowski). Poor people are essentially incapable of providing their families with food that is healthy because of their socio-economic status. “Some low-income families limit their food budget to $100 for four people per week, or less than four dollars per person per day” (Drewnowski). Remarkably, healthier products are not worth the money because they receive far more energy from processed food and more for their money with “supersized” portions. It is actually more economical for poor people to stay unhealthy, which increases the incidence and prevalence of diabetes and obesity. That in turn, puts a greater strain on the American health care community to treat these individuals as they grow older.

I should feel fortunate that I am blessed to live in an upper middle-class family because having healthy food choices is always an option for me. I can spend nearly $100 dollars a week on food for myself, yet a Hispanic mother living in a project can only purchase $28 dollars worth of food for herself. I received home cooked meals nearly every night of the week since I was a child and it pains me to say that I still take that for granted as Dr. Drewnowski’s report indicates it is a rarity for families to eat anything but snacks and fast-food. With the continued immigration of low-income Hispanics into America I am afraid that the problem of obesity and diabetes is only going to get larger.

My impression of these statistics is one of overwhelming concern for the future health of the United States. I still cannot fathom that almost forty percent of Americans are obese and that many diabetics will lose sight and limbs from a preventable disease. The only comparable disease is smoking which took nearly thirty-five years of constant ad campaigns and general education to start stigmatizing the damaging effects of inhaling nicotine and carcinogens. Sadly, people continue to smoke even though they know it is unhealthy, and sadly, people continue to live sedentary lifestyles and eat to excess even though they know it is unhealthy. I am dismayed over these statistics, but I am hopeful that with more general education and an even greater ad campaign than stopping smoking, it is possible to curb the prevalence and mortality rates of diabetes and obesity. Really, there is no other option. Like an obese diabetic America is rotting from the inside out unless people are rallied to change their individual behavior.

Featured Image Credit: www.smh.com.au

Proper Citations for all sources used in this analysis may be found in the PDF Version.

Cheers,
Gordon