Tag Archives: right

Punishment Running

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I’m torn on this particular topic. Oddly, some of my fondest memories are the endless sprints that I ran with my teammates while our coach yelled at us. It created a great “us” versus “him” mentality, bringing the team together. That being said, I am personally against punishment running at the youth level.

For me the youth level ends at the Junior Varisty or U15 travel teams. I think the players at these levels can respond to punishment running for two reasons. One, they are old enough to understand that their mistakes impact their team negatively. Two, these players are beginning to understand that they play for something bigger than themselves – their team. Without a sense of togetherness and personal responsibility, punishment running will never work.

But Gordon, what am I supposed to do when my youth team or youth player screws up? If a youth player screws up, mouths offs, or otherwise misbehaves there are a few options available. One of the most effective is having the young player sit on the bench for five minutes while the other kids practice. If the infraction is particularly severe, have the entire team sit on the bench for however long you feel is necessary. This reinforces to the young players that lacrosse is a privilege that can be taken away. Second option – pushups! The great thing about pushups is they are scalable and quick. If a player cannot do full pushups then they can do them on their knees (scalable). Plus, it takes very little time for a kid to bang out five or ten pushups before they are right back into the practice (quick). Third option – squats! Just like pushups they are scalable and quick to do.

The reason I like calisthenics for youth players as opposed to punishment running is the player is not out of sight and out of mind. Back in the day, I sent a kid to go run a lap around the entire field. It took him five minutes to accomplish this task because he was going as slowly as possible. By introducing simple calisthenics you give the kid a goal that he can accomplish right in front of you and the entire team.

Back to my running a lap example. When I said, “Go run a lap!” The kid went “awwwghrhhh” and trotted along the outside of the field. Far away from his teammates who forgot that he was running since they were having fun playing lacrosse. Things go a bit differently when trying out pushups. “Bang out ten pushups!” The kid goes “awwwghrhhh,” drops down where he is and does the pushups. It takes maybe thirteen seconds while his teammates look at him and go “I’m never going to do what he did.” The pushups have now accomplished two things: One, the kid is suitably punished for his transgression, two the entire team has to stop and watch the short punishment unfold. Again showing the entire team that lacrosse is a privilege, and not a right.

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 isĀ 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

Live Blogging Convention Day 1

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Day 1 of the 2011 US Lacrosse National Convention:

Coach Lou and I arrived in Baltimore after a very brief flight from Hartsfield-Jackson. We took the Light Rail to the Baltimore Hilton right across from the Convention Center. Once we were settled we headed over to the registration area and checked ourselves in. I got myself a fancy name tag and an awesome tote bag to hold all of the handouts and booklets detailing the events of the weekend. The convention does not officially open until tomorrow morning and while we were registering there were tons of exhibits and areas being set up.

Fancy Name Tag

Fancy Name Tag

Champion is one of the main sponsors of the convention this year and they are all over the place. Even though there were lots of workers setting everything up I can tell that the whole convention is going to look awesome with everything in place tomorrow morning. I cannot wait to check out the Officiating Classes and Coach Lou is prepping for his presentation on “Six Drills for Speed.” He will be detailing six different drills designed to get youth players used to practicing at a quick pace. He is presenting on one of the live indoor fields on the first floor of the Convention Center. I’ve got to tell you all it is a pretty cool set up. I will be taking pictures of some of the drills being taught on the live fields tomorrow for anyone interested in how the whole place looks.

Once we were checked in we headed out to find some eats. The temperature dropped quickly and we were fortunate in finding the Kona Grill right across the street. No matter where I go with my Dad he always seems to know the best places to eat, but he had never been to the Kona Grill so we did not know what to expect. Turns out to be an upscale Sushi/Taiwanese joint that had some awesome udon noodles. So if you are ever in Baltimore check out the Kona Grill and try the calamari – it’s delicious!

Well this is the end of Day 1 of live blogging the US Lacrosse National Convention. Tomorrow looks like a very busy day with classes, speakers, and events going on from 8am to 9pm. I’m sure my feet with be extremely sore by the end of the night but there is a real quality hot tub downstairs that I plan on using.

Cheers,
Gordon