For a team to be successful, players must look forward to practice each day. This is what primarily drives my coaching philosophies, especially at the high school level. Too often, players dread going to practice. And if that is the case, it is quite difficult for coaches to get the most out of their players. Therefore, I have three simple coaching philosophies that shape how I structure practices. They are:
- Ensure the health and safety of all players at all times,
- Have fun while working hard, and
- Compete while learning
The sport of lacrosse is physical, demanding on the body, and quite frankly, mentally tough. The health and safety of our players is and will always be my primary concern. I try to be in constant communication with our players regarding how they are feeling, both mentally and physically. Practices are also designed to limit unneeded physical contact.
Although lacrosse is considered the fastest game on two feet, we do not “run” in practice. This might be where my coaching philosophy differs most from the traditional views. We condition through playing lacrosse. This allows players to not only build stamina but also enjoy the process of getting into shape. It also allows players to hone their skills when tired. Therefore, our practices are high-tempo, energetic, and hopefully, a lot of fun.
Lastly, we want players to be competing in everything they do in practice. We therefore structure our practices with mini, competitive drills. These drills will focus on a small part of the game. From there, we build those small drills up into larger ones that then emphasize the skills learned. Then, we will often end practices with the offense competing against the defense. Structuring practice like this brings a small aspect of lacrosse into the bigger game-like scenario. Players are then always competing while learning.
Overall, this make practices enjoyable for our players, which in turn allows them to continue learning throughout the season.