The next generation of lacrosse players is waiting and watching with their eyes wide open. It’s our responsibility as current players, fans, coaches, referees and lacrosse lovers to be leaders and ensure that the positive aspects of the sport are presented properly to the next batch of players. Here is a list of five tips that will help you get the lacrosse fire burning strong inside the up and comers.
Explain the History
As we all know, lacrosse has an incredible story. We need the next generation to hear this history so they realize just how special the sport is. So next time you’re in the car with your youngster or talking in front of a group of youth players, be sure to tell them how cool the history of lacrosse is. Be animated. You can use the story as a foundation to explain key components like sportsmanship, creativity and team work. Once they fully understand that they are part of a long line of great people they will have a deeper appreciation for the sport and their fellow teammates.
We can never forget why we play sports — to have FUN. If you’re a coach that has the opportunity to work with first time players, build your lesson plan centered around making sure the players are having a good time. If you have a fast paced practice with a strong FUNdation and make sure that all of your players are smiling you are succeeding as a leader. Don’t overwhelm or overload them with too much information. For the first couple weeks of practice, just focus on stick work. Discovering the stick is fun. Little tricks like cradling upside down and sidewall bumps are fun little activities that young players really enjoy. If you can get a kid to love lacrosse, they will take it upon themselves to dive deeper and become as good as they want to be.
A big reason why lacrosse is one of the most popular youth sports in the world is because it’s fast and filled with action. Its important that you have a ball bag filled when you show up to the field so the every player can have a ball. If a young players first day of lacrosse is spent in the back of the line without a ball thats not a great start. Keep your practices moving and interesting. If you feel the group losing their attention its time to switch it up.
Use Your Imagination
Little games that are simple and fun can go a really long way. You have to remember that you are dealing with kids, they aren’t division I athletes yet. So things like line drills or even off hand stick work should be avoided at first. Let them build confidence in their sticks and themselves before you start to introduce more complex strategies. Simple games like sharks and minnows or little consecutive catching contest are a great ways to get young players engaged.
Promote Positive Teamwork
Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by youth coaches is the diverse range of skill level. Its important that you try to group equally skilled players together so that they are maximizing their training but then always bringing the group all together to promote group efforts. Practices should always end with a group challenge that is simple for the whole group to work towards. You want the older and more skilled players rooting for and encouraging the younger and less skilled players. Its not just a lacrosse lesson its a life lesson.
Lacrosse is a game. We want it to be enjoyed by players from all over the world and we encourage you to give these tips a try the next time you are working with newbies. When it’s done right – lacrosse practice should be super fun, the players should learn a new skill and leave the field with confidence and excitement that makes them want to get home and head straight to the backyard to practice on their own. Lacrosse is a great vehicle to instill life lessons that players can carry over into their lives and personalities.
Here’s to great lacrosse!