The coach has a central role in the development of lacrosse players. Coaches assist players in developing to their fullest potential, whatever that maybe. The challenge for the coach is to create the right conditions for learning to happen and to empower the player to develop to reach their potential.
This section will cover topics for a range of people from those who would like to become a coach to experienced coaches who are looking to develop their coaching and sports science knowledge. Coaching information is provided for coaches of various age and skill levels. This is to recognize the many differences that coaches are faced with when coaching each of these age and development stages. Much of the information on the art of coaching will apply across these stages, but differences in technical, tactical and team play development as well as physical and psychological areas are dealt with according to the stage of development.
Being a coach can be a difficult job. Players are developing physically, psychologically, socially and emotionally. Where this stage of development begins and ends is hard to define exactly, as each player will develop at a different rate. Coaching youth and young adults places unique demands on the coach. Depending on the player, the coach may need to adjust their activities to cater for changes in coordination, balance and growth. The coach may be required to offer words of encouragement to players who become frustrated with some of the difficulties of growth and how this affects their ability to play. The motivation to play differs slightly from that of children.
Teenagers get involved in lacrosse because of:
- Enjoyment – Lacrosse is physical, fast and fun at all levels.
- Skill – Lacrosse is considered a very skillful game.
- Social Recognition – Players, perhaps for the first time, recognize that playing lacrosse can provide a higher social standing. As well as being skillful, lacrosse is seen as being physically demanding and tough, where courage and determination are important. Showing proficiency at such games can lead to a player developing high self esteem, and be recognized amongst their peers.
- Possibility of Success – Many players continue to participate as they have aspirations to play at higher levels.
- Coach – The coach can be the most important factor in whether a player continues to play at this stage. Situations arise where the coach's goals and the player's needs can lead to players becoming disillusioned and dropping out.
- Participation – Low involvement through poorly designed training sessions, or through a lack of playing time in games are some of the most serious causes of drop out. Being pigeon holed into one position, especially one seen as a less glamorous can be an issue here as well.
- Training and Games – Games can be fun, but if training is dull or set at too high a level, players can lose interest quickly.
Special challenges to Coaches of Players at All Levels
Adolescence is a time when players:
- Have conflicting commitments – Players like to be involved in a number of different sports, or with a number of different teams.
- Seek Independence – Players often want to display a higher level of independence by not having to rely on their parents.
- Pressures from School - School, especially in later years, places additional pressures on players.
Some practical considerations that a coach can make to assist players at this time include:
- Provide flexible schedules to accommodate the demands of study, and other activities.
- Carefully follow the progress of each player, offering encouragement and advice where necessary.
- Provide quality training.
Some of the problems associated with progression in lacrosse include:
- Training regimes imposed on less developed bodies and minds.
- Player skill levels may not match the demands of performance in competitive situations.
- The player may not be sufficiently developed cognitively to understand and implement the coach's instructions, especially when dealing with Team Play issues.
- Coaches may question the player's commitment and discipline as they struggle to come to terms with the more demanding nature of lacrosse.
Coaches may find that they become disillusioned if they do not adequately take notice of the above issues. Coaches must be prepared to change their expectations in response to accelerated growth and emotional development.
Coaches should strive to set a good example at all times. You should always:
- • Be a role model for players to emulate
- • Promote fair play and follow the rules and spirit of the game.
- • Improve your technical and personal skills to impart on your players.
- • Be prepared with a practice/game plan.
- • Look at the positives in situations that may frustrate you by looking at the opportunity to teach your players right from wrong.
- • Be a motivator and inspire players to higher levels of performance.
- • Be approachable to your players.
- • Self evaluate your performance at all times to look for opportunities to improve as a coach and mentor.
Coaches should not:
- • Do the opposite of the bullet points above.
- • Promote unsportsmanlike play.
- • Run up scores on lesser skilled teams as it can cause a bad experience and may make players quit the game.
- • Sully the spirit of our great game.
We look forward to working will you all during the season and wish you the best of luck in coaching your players to higher levels of performance both on the field and off.