Verified Newsletter Article – Coaches Corner
By Josh Barrow | Feb 17, 2021
2021 Pre-Season Advice from Chaos LC Head Coach Andy Towers
With the 2021 spring lacrosse season fast approaching on the youth, Junior High, and High School levels, I am sending out a little advice for everyone (boys and girls) in prep for the start of their respective seasons.
As players, you are really broken up into 4 parts: Athleticism, Skill-Set, IQ, and Intangibles.
Athleticism is god given but it can certainly be enhanced through diet, sleep, and of course strength and conditioning. Making sure that you arrive in great shape for the start of your season has perhaps never been so easily accomplished due to COVID and the self-isolation associated with it. Take care of this NOW and you’ll have a major advantage versus your competition both internally (on your team) and externally (against your opponents) as the season evolves.
Skill-set development is crucial to all athletes in all sports. Lacrosse is no different. A lacrosse player’s skill-set consists of stickwork (passing and catching), stick handling (carrying the ball), ground ball play (1-handed pick-ups, 2-handed pick-ups, and all of the associated angle of ball transfers (overhand, sidearm, backhanded shovel, etc.), and shooting techniques (faking vs deception, techniques: overhand, sidearm, ¾ high/low, BTB). All of these respective skills can be worked on individually — providing no reasons why a player shouldn’t have a reasonably ‘complete’ skill set heading into the season.
This is especially true as players get older. There’s simply no excuse for HS players to not have a complete or close to complete skill set if they put in the time on a consistent basis. It’s not always a glamorous thing to work on, however nothing fuels a greater level of enjoyment playing the sport than being able to pick up the ground ball the first time your try, or catch a poorly thrown pass with your ‘off’ hand, etc. So, take ownership of your skill set development by ‘putting in the work’ before the season starts, and you’ll minimize stick mistakes substantially.
IQ development is simply knowing what to do, and why you’re doing it, based on your respective role within a specific situation. While this can really only be developed ‘physically’ in group play settings (tough to do 3v3’s by yourself), players can accelerate their IQ development by simply watching the sport being played at higher levels (HS, College, Professional) than the one they’re currently playing at (Youth, Jr HS, HS). Familiarity with decisions that players and coaches make over the course of watching a game can be an outstanding teacher of the sport, in addition to simply being fun to watch and entertaining. Focus on the decisions offensive players make in unsettled situations with the ball or when they’re off-ball. Focus on how help-side defensemen support the inside when they’re off-ball in half field settled situations. These things will show you exactly how to play the game ‘the right way’.
Next, a player’s ‘intangibles’ are simply things that players decide about themselves that they want others to see in them and ultimately say about them. Those are things that people can’t see in you walking from the locker room to the field, but rather things that show a player’s grit, determination, work ethic, sportsmanship, team-first attitude, etc. These are perhaps the most important part of a player, as each player’s intangibles on a team cumulatively help shape the culture of that team, and ultimately the program over the course of many years.
As players get older, an awareness of how their teammates, coaches, opponents, recruiters, etc., see them is vital to helping them ultimately reach their potential. Nothing is more disappointing than a great athlete, with a great skill-set, and a high IQ, that has poor body language, poor work ethic, shows poor sportsmanship, etc. So, be aware of this dynamic ALL of the time and you will eliminate a potential source of regret for yourself while you maximize your team’s chances of success.
As you prepare for the upcoming 2021 season, perpetually ‘scout yourself’ as to where you currently are in these 4 areas, and this will help create a ‘road map’ to improvement!