A New Year Brings The Same Old Questions….

Well I pretty much had no plans to coach Minor Lacrosse this summer.  Not because I don’t like Coaching, I absolutely love it.  But because I have Coached a good portion of kids together for the last four years (since Novice). 

I was asked if I would consider doing it again and that “instant lacrosse feeling” came over me.  You know that buzz you get when you walk into an arena for the first few times after the ice is out?   That “hockey is gone and here comes the real game” feeling (sorry folks, gotta get a dig in when I can).   So after talking to my wife about it, and agreeing to disagree with her (she really does not mind me Coaching, she just hates having to hear the comments that sometimes get directed toward the Coach), I accepted to position.

So here comes the instant dilemma.  The age group that I now Coach are Bantam kids (13, 14 year olds).  Up until now in my Coaching life, I ‘ve pretty much had a “lacrosse must be the priority” philosophy.  It has been received with mixed results, but for the most part accepted. 

However, now that these boys are 13 and 14, I’m considering (yes only considering) being quite a bit more lenient in the commitment level.  Don’t get me wrong, I want 100%, but I guess I’m questioning whether or not that is a realistic expectation.  The problem becomes, fielding / flooring a competitive team while at the same time being fair to those that are there with full commitment.

So I want to throw it out there to the masses and please give your honest opinions.  Comments to this post are also welcome. 

Please understand that we are only talking Bantam Representative Lacrosse or Higher (Midget, etc.).  My question is:

As it relates to other summer sports, a part time job, or family vacations, would you accept less than full commitment to a Bantam Rep lacrosse team?

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16 Comments

  1. Short answer…NO!

    Question to be asked is why would you accept less than 100% or reasonably close to? If it is a lower calibre team you may be somewhat flexible, but let’s not forget some kids have lacrosse in their future and we owe it to them to put together the best program we can.

    Treat it as second class and second class it shall it be. Keep the fire burning Gary!

  2. there should always be a 100% the coachs time is worth something and if they don’t want to give it all find another sport parents don’t except it other sports so why lacrosse a game i consider the greatest game on earth most parents thing their kids are the next one well shake your head there is a much better chance of getting a scholar ship in this sport or free education plus getting to meet and know some very fine people and friends for the rest of ur life so give your all and stay home playing with your dolls

  3. anything less than 100% is not fair to the “team”. want part lax, play house.

  4. “The problem becomes, fielding / flooring a competitive team while at the same time being fair to those that are there with full commitment.

    I’m guessing with this that you are doing rep. With houseleague it doesnt matter their level of commitment — which is why I prefer it over rep as the fun factor is front and center. The age thing is the biggest issue you will have I suspect. My daughter rode horses until she was that age when other things because a priority (talking on the phone is the big one).

    What I would be hoping for is a couple super stars that make the ‘core’ of the team who eat / sleep / breathe lacrosse and surround them with a cast that care ‘enough’. They might not show up for every practice, or give 100% during them but come game day they try their best. Growing up we won our baseball houseleague division with a team structured this way.

    Finally, a lot of coaching theory and how-teenagers-think will drive the lesser players to improve based solely on peer pressure which is not something you can control or influence.

    Oh, and if you think you have an issue with varying degrees of commitment, come to one of the paperweight games. 🙂

    -adam

  5. Adam, you make some good points. Just to clarify my situation, I do have some “quality players” that will be there. The issue at this level of Rep lacrosse, is depth. If your quality or depth of your bench is there, you will go farther.

    So my questions was geared toward higher “quality players” with other interests at 13 and 14 years of age.

    At what point do we start thinking like the Juniors, Majors, or Pro’s where the focus is on winning….or do we at all?

  6. Focus on winning and you’ll lose most of the time. Focus on team play, work ethic, build leaders and do this while creating an environment of FUN! This creates a team that kids feel privileged to belong to if they all can be made to feel as if they have a role and a contribution to make.

    Having other interests is important but you are there to coach/teach lacrosse…who knows, you may be their inspiration for choosing lacrosse.

  7. Whenever you are discussing the premier division in any sport or activity committment becomes synonomous with premier. Obviously quality players will be there; it really is the rest that the question begs for. It is not elitist to demand complete commitment. The larger centres have the luxury of high enrollment; so sacrifice isn’t a question the coach should be asking; the committment is something that the player and his parents need to answer. If your not prepared to give complete committment; then fortunately there are other levels you can choose that meet your committment level. While the coach should be selfish and want the best players available, understand that without the commitment, talent is wasted on the top team. Those who are prepared to committ will improve because of the program and the demand of committment.
    I really don’t think that this is about Junior, Major or Pros or about winning.
    It is more about the philosophy of what a top level team is about and to me that is commitment first and foremost. Winning or the will to win is a given. The structure, the coaching, being surrounded by your peers who give complete commitment builds toward the tangible mentality of winning and team first.
    The concession the coach has to make is that by demanding commitment he/she will lose talented players. So be it. Those who miss it will come back. Those who don’t will be replaced by players who buy into the committment and will develop because of it.
    Having said all this; vacation scheduling needs to be a consideration and a clear policy must be in place prior to team selection to allow players and parents an opportunity to examine the committment requirements before determining whether the program is for them or not. Yes allow a week’s absence for a family holiday, but not during a seeding or qualifying tournament.

  8. Lax is Lfe – I’m not sure of your comment about other interestes. It is not the coach with other interests, it is some of the potential players. Or am I misunderstandning what you are saying? Are you saying that it is up to the coach to make the players want to be there instead of their other interests? If so, I agree.

    Dave – Very good points, and the way I am sure most of the top caliber centres operate. However, the “commited kids will develop” doesn’t always happen to the level of the less commited player. I agree over the long run, they may become the better player, but in the short term, usually it is not the case.

    Not saying I have any answers, I’m just playing devil’s advocate to your points 🙂

  9. Yes I was referring to the players (we know coaches have no life, right :).

    Work hard to make lax their priority, but ultimately it must come from their heart (cue the Celine).

  10. I see your dilemma Gary. Finding balance is the most difficult part of playing or coaching a sport (or anything in life really). That being said – at that age (Bantam) it is the committment of the parents you need to know as well. I personally think that if a player is choosing a rep sport, they shouldn’t be missing it because they are also choosing another sport or activity. If they try out for a rep team – they need to be committed to that. However, if families only have certain holidays, it’s not necessarily fair to have the whole family not being able to go away due to one child’s interest in a sport. Also, what if the family (or only child in my case) has a chance to go on a trip of a lifetime (like my child). Should she forgo a trip to China and missing 10 days of lacrosse, or not try out for a rep team? Chances like that don’t come around very often.

    Also, as the kids get older and have part time jobs, I believe it’s not fair to disclude them from the teams. Some kids need to work – and chances are if they are a hard worker, they will work hard on the team. Of course, expectations need to be set. If the kids works 5 nights a week, obviously practices are out and that’s not fair to the rest of the team. Perhaps there needs to be a set number of games/practices set that cannot be missed.

    Difficult dilemma, I agree.

  11. Reality in the lacrosse world is that all lacrosse players have more than that 1 life. Look at many of those in the NLL. Save a few very rare exceptions, they all have full time jobs and devote their entire weekends to the team, during the season and in some instances 2 seasons (NLL and MSL).

    At the age of 13/14 kids are starting to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives (mostly due to school commitments). At this point, demanding a 100% commitment level would not be out of question I believe. If the kids can not do it then, they will not be able to do it down the road. All lacrosse players eventually must learn how to balance their family, work and athlete lives.

    To finish I will mention, the pro players I commented on above are 100% committed for the sole reason that they love the game. A bantam-rep teen will know by age 13/14 whether or not they are totally in love with the sport. And if they are, they should have no problem accepting a full-time lacrosse commitment.

  12. been there done that..have coached some of the same kids since tyke..my first kidfs are entering Midget A..the problem is we are in a new age…I myself expect 100% committment but have come to the realization it doesn’t matter what I want ultinately…too few kids playing ALL the sports..spring hockey, baseball etc..are stretching the day too far,,Reality says your best athletes can make it work without missing a beat…trying to keep your middle athletes focussed and progressing is the chore and the biggest feeling of accomplishment…Last year I coached a very successful Midget B team, a very diverse Bantam C team, and a solid Intermediate B team for the playoffs..Yes, I’m one of those sickies who can’t get enough lax…What a myriad of shapes, sizes, athleticism, but mostly committment..numbers dictate what you can ask as well…often you make do with the kids you have and bite your tongue…In a perfect world..DEMAND 100%..but if you get less…stay true to your PERSONAL comiitment .don’t lose enthusiasm for the game…I’m trying to stick to one team this year, those 16-17 yr. olds can sure teach me a lot..ask them..lol Wally

  13. Marksy,
    I was involved with a very competitive peewee team one year where the coach let one of the (better) players more or less come and go as he pleased to accommodate the young man’s commitment to another sport. Our coach new this going into the season and selected the player to the team knowing full well that this player would show up right at game time and leave right after the game. This player almost never attended a post game debriefing by the coach and missed some valuable bonding time with the rest of the team. In short, it did lead to resentment and ill feelings by some players and coaching staff. As a parent who’s son was committed to the team, it drove me nuts.
    In closing, it’s got to be all or nothing. Showing commitment to something is part of maturing and becoming a responsible adult. As a coach, you are leading by example and you should expect no less from the athletes you have selected.
    You have made the “All In” declaration, now it’s time for the players to “Call”

  14. Note that the Edge field teams have taken many kids that play AAA hockey and will miss tournaments due to that sport. We are in Canada and hockey…hockey…hockey.

  15. Lax Dad,

    Great point; do you think though that we might see the day when the almighty “Hockey” takes a back seat to a sport that gives a kid a better opportunity odds wise (if only for school)?

    Thoughts?

  16. As a coach, if I am going to give several hundred hours of my time to these kids this summer I expect them to value my commitment as much as I do theirs. If I took the approach that some kids do to commitmment the parents would freak out when they hear I missed a practice to go swimming and skipped our tourney to go to the cottage etc…

    Players should be held to the same standard as the coach. Rep is a commitment plain and simple.


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