TJ Buchanan | @usltjbuchanan
They say you can’t send a duck to eagle school. But that’s not true all the time.
As coaches, we have all faced situations in which we must figure out creative ways to get the most out of an under-talented team, maybe win a few games and have fun along the way. It only takes one practice to realize you don’t have a Paul Rabil- or Lindsey Munday-type player on your roster.
So what’s a coach to do? Here are three possible solutions.
Assess your players
Figure out players’ strengths, and put them you have in a position to be successful. Anyone remember former Duke long-stick midfielder CJ Costabile winning a faceoff, running it down the field and scoring to win a national championship in 2010? There’s a prime example of a coach (John Danowski) evaluating and using his players’ strengths. A US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program Level 2 clinic will provide you with resources to help evaluate your players.
Evaluate how you practice
There tends to be a comfort level sometimes in doing a drill where six kids are active while 14 others “watch and learn.” Don’t fall into that trap.
- Get players the most touches on the ball possible in the shortest amount of time. Five to seven minutes of a high-intensity, high-repetition drill is all you need to accomplish this.
- Shorten up the lines in your line drills.
- Try using multiple groups in your ground ball drills.
- And most importantly — lots of balls! Nothing slows practice down and limits touches like having to chase down bad passes or errant shots.
More touches. More practice. Better players.
Evaluate what you practice.
Ever wonder why your team starts slow and takes a half of mishaps to get into the game?
How are you starting practice?
We’re all guilty of spending the first hour and a half of practice teaching and then getting to scrimmage “if we have time.” If the saying “you play like you practice” is true, why not get the team off to a fast start in practice so when game day arrives, your team starts fast?
After stretching and a quick warm-up of stick drills, consider a 10-minute scrimmage session or another fast-paced drill and using that to drive the rest of your practice plan. Think of these as in-game adjustments.
TJ Buchanan is the coaching education content manager at US Lacrosse. Suggest topics for future coaching blog posts in the comments section.
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