Tag Archives: teaching


Published by:

Turning the other cheek, while incredibly difficult, is often the best answer when you feel wronged by another player. Watch the following video and see if the reaction by the defender is greater than the insult caused by the attackman:

Lacrosse, like every other sport, is a game of emotions. Good and bad emotions rise up on every sound of the whistle, and at higher levels of play the onus is on the player to behave like a good sport and not retaliate when slighted. Going back to the video above, lets look at a few different actions the defender could have taken:

  • Inform an official during a dead ball that his opponent should be watched for unsportsmanlike behavior
  • Walk away (a smart option, in my opinion)
  • Resolve to get a great stick check against his opponent on the next possession (best option because it focuses the mind on positive action for his team)

One objective of youth lacrosse is teaching kids how to channel their emotions into something positive. I firmly believe that young players learn best through their mistakes, but only if they are called out on their mistakes in a way that creates positive action. Take for instance a young player who gets slashed during a game. This player decides to turn around and punch his opponent in the helmet in full view of the official. That player does not have full control over their emotions. He did not think through his actions, and as a result cost his team the ball, a three-minute penalty, and an expulsion for punching another player.

What counts in this situation is the reaction by the coach, who must now call his young player out on his behavior. The best line I ever heard was from a youth coach that said, “Johnny, I love that you play this game so passionately, but the official is always going to see you retaliate. I want you to promise me that if another player wrongs you that you come to me first, and let me handle it.” This statement is perfect for a youth player to recognize that they made a mistake, but also give them a tool to handle future problems on the field.

Notice also what the coach did not do to his player. He did not yell, scream, or berate his player in any way. He took a big negative that hurt his team, but turned it into something positive. Remember coaches, if your player retaliates against an opponent, don’t make the mistake of retaliating against your player. Coach him up, and give the young kid a tool to better handle a rough situation in another game.

Featured Image Credit – www.youtube.com



Three Steps

Published by:

A few years ago I was paired up with two excellent youth coaches for a series of lacrosse clinics at an Atlanta middle school. The job was simple, but I had one problem. The kids were not responding to me very much. My coaching friend laid it out to me during the second clinic. “Gordon – with kids it’s best to explain things as simply as possible. That means take all the explaining you are doing and shorten it into three steps.”

He was right. As soon as I shortened my explanation of a new skill, the kids zeroed in on what I was talking about and executed the technique well. They were paying attention better too. Earlier in the clinics, when I was explaining a drill they would zone out and get that “dude, get on with it” look on their faces. Kids want action, and lets face it, they have shorter attention spans than an adult. So we as coaches must tailor our explanation of skills, drills, and game strategy to a few easy-to-repeat steps.

Here is my extremely detailed method of picking up a ground ball:

  1. See the ball on the ground
  2. Yell “I got ball” or ball
  3. Run towards the ball
  4. Place your front foot as close to the ball as possible
  5. Bend down as low as possible
  6. Keeping your stick close to the ground, run through the ball until it is in your stick
  7. Give the stick a slight cradle as soon as the ball is in your stick
  8. Bring the head of your stick close to, but not touching, your helmet
  9. As you continue to run yell “Release!”
  10. Run in a wide arc to separate yourself from pursuers
  11. Once you are safely away from other players, look for the open pass or shot

Did anyone else get bored and wonder when the heck is this list over with? If you did you know exactly how a youth player feels when a coach talks, and talks and talks. The player is thinking, “when is coach going to get this over with and let us do a drill?” As I said earlier, kids crave action. So spend some time and review your talking points with a willing adult. If they get bored listening to you explain a drill, chances are your players will do the same.

Now lets take a look at my truncated, but still perfectly valid ground ball explanation:

  1. Bend down as low as possible
  2. Run through the ball until it is in your stick
  3. Keep running

Simple. Direct. Repeatable. When I explain how to pick up a ground ball to new players I start with #1, then restate #1 and state #2. Then I wrap up by stating #1, 2, and 3 together. That gets the technique drilled into the player’s mind effectively through repetition. By the time I am finished, all of the players are thinking “bend down, run through, and run.” That accomplishes the core skills required to pick up a ground ball.

Everything else that I listed above can be added to future ground ball drills. For instance, I don’t require players to shout out “I got ball” during the first ground ball drill they ever do. What does it accomplish to the actual task of picking up a GB? Nothing! Let the kids worry about steps 1-3, and then after a few repetitions, add in the ball shout.

So avoid bogging down your young player’s minds with extraneous detail. Save that for small group or one on one work. Instead, focus on shortening your explanations so you and your players can get to the action.


As always new post ideas may be emailed to rules@ayllax.com.