Tag Archives: youth lacrosse

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

Concussions in Youth Sports

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According to the CDC “Heads Up” Activity Report, published in 2008:

  • Concussions are the most commonly reported injury in children and teenagers participating in youth sports.
  • There are more than 38 million boys and girls, ages 5-18, playing in organized sports nationwide.
  • 65% of reported sport-related concussions came from the 5-18 age group.*
    • Note – many of “these injuries may be considered mild, they can result in health consequences such as impaired thinking, memory problems, and emotional or behavioral changes.”

In the Introducing Concussions post, we learned that children may be at a higher risk of concussions than adults because their brains are still developing. How then do we address this issue safely in our youth leagues? We create more awareness about the seriousness of concussions, and increased knowledge about their prevalance.

Engaging in any youth sport requires a knowledge of the risks. The American Journal of Sports Medicine conducted an eleven-year study on the rates of concussions in high school sports. They found that per 100,000 player games or practices, the number of concussions per sport are as follows:

You probably noticed that boys and girls’ lacrosse are the third and fourth sports with the highest incidence of concussed players at the high school level. In my opinion, there are two reasons for this. One, boys’ lacrosse helmets while designed for impact, are more focused on front hits to the head than sideways or rear hits. You can check this with the padding in any generic lacrosse helmet. The sides are considerably thinner than the rest of the helmet. Second, girls’ wear eye-protection, not helmets. Plus, there are possibilities of collisions and falls to the ground in girl’s lacrosse.

Now if you are a parent your first thought after reading this post may be to pull your child off the playing field and encase them in a room filled with bubble wrap. Please, avoid that temptation and remember that the above list is per 100,000 players. That means while thirty boys may get a concussion, there are 99,970 boys that do not get one. While focusing on that makes me breathe easier, we still have to check on the thirty that are concussed.

So how can we be responsible league administrators, coaches, and parents when a player sustains a concussion? Gear up folks, it is reading and quiz time.

The CDC provides the following educational materials to coaches, players, and parents. I highly recommend reading each of these downloads before stepping onto the field this Fall Season.

Lastly, I want as many coaches as possible to take the CDC Concussions in Youth Sports Online Training for Coaches. This is a short, free online training tool for youth coaches. You will learn about:

  1. Concussion Basics
  2. Recognizing Concussions
  3. Responding to Concussions
  4. Getting Back in the Game
  5. Concussion Prevention

While we cannot completely prevent concussions in youth sports, we can understand the seriousness of them and respond appropriately. Remember, when in doubt – sit them out.

Featured Image credit – www.post-gazette.com

Cheers,
Gordon

 

 

Officiating Clinic

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As I mentioned in this week’s first post, Andy Halperin and I are putting on an officiating clinic on Sunday, September 4th. We will cover the basic rules each youth official needs to know, as well as whistle blowing, flag throwing, penalty reporting, conducting faceoffs, and lots of signaling. It is absolutely free of charge, as we want as many youth officials as possible to go through the training. Only 5th-12th graders are permitted to attend the clinic, as of this Fall season, AYL will not allow any player under fifth grade to officiate this year.

Additionally, any AYL parents are welcome to attend the clinic. Either to learn the basics of officiating, or to become an AYL official themselves.

All attending AYL members will receive a:

  • 2011 NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rulebook
  • Copy of AYL rule differences
  • Fox 40 whistle & lanyard
  • AYL Zebra shirt

The officiating camp will consist of:

One Hour – Station Drills

      • 15 minutes – flag throwing and whistle blowing
      • 15 minutes – conducting faceoffs
      • 15 minutes – penalty reporting
      • 15 minutes – goal/crease play

One Hour – Rules Discussion

      • 30 minutes – must know youth and safety rules
      • 30 minutes – situations and tips/tricks

After the two hour camp, each potential official will receive a link to take an online test (open-book) of twenty rules questions. This is to ensure that the youth referees understand the rules and when they should be applied.

The online test will be available for five days starting at the end of the camp. A passing score of 80% (B) is required to officiate at any age level at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse. Any player that does not make the grade may take the test again at my discretion. Players that forget or do not take the test at all may not take a retest. Since five days is more than enough time to take a twenty-question test.

Finally, all officials who pass the test will be shadowed by an experienced adult official for one half of a game. Andy and I watch each official during their “practice-half.” If they do well, they are allowed to officiate without a shadow for the remainder of the season. If they still need work, they are assigned further shadowing until they are competent on their own.

It is my hope that this officiating camp, test, and final shadowing will produce youth officials that are excited about officiating. Also, this will greatly improve the fundamental knowledge of each youth official. Making them more capable of officiating a good game.

If anyone has any questions about the AYL Officiating Camp you may email me at rules@ayllax.com. More information about the camp and how to register will be released at the end of August through posts, and the AYL Weekly Newsletter.

Featured Image Credit – en.gtwallpaper.com

Cheers,
Gordon