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TJ Buchanan | @usltjbuchanan
Lacrosse players are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before. Look at a “kid” like Myles Jones from Duke. He’s 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds as a college sophomore. At the other end of the spectrum, you have a player like Villanova sophomore John Kluh at 5-foot-4, 140 pounds.
Both players are midfielders. At some theoretical point in time they could collide on the field. Advantage Jones, right?
Not so fast.
As a coach, you have many responsibilities in preparing your team. There is offense, defense, extra-man offense, man-down defense and more to worry about. But one aspect you must teach your players is how to make proper contact and how to prepare for receiving contact — regardless of their physical stature. Failure to teach your players about these two important concepts will only lead to penalties, easy dodges to the goal and injuries.
In addition to proper technique, coaches should strive to teach the appropriate times and locations for contact. Blind-side hitting a defenseless player is illegal by NFHS rule 5-3. It can result in a two- or three-minute non-releasable penalty and even ejection.
As part of our online tutorial, “How to Make Proper Contact,” US Lacrosse also consulted with martial arts experts and gymnasts to develop recommendations for absorbing contact. Research shows that athletes who are prepared for body-to-body or body-to-ground contact are less likely to suffer injuries as a result of it.
TJ Buchanan is the coaching education content manager at US Lacrosse. Suggest topics for future coaching blog posts in the comments section.
In October 2013, US Lacrosse released the online tutorial, “How to Make Proper Contact.” It’s a one-hour e-learning course with information about teaching contact situations. Nearly 1,000 coaches have completed the course, which now is a requirement for all coaches seeking Level 1 certification in the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program.
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