After my freshman year at Syracuse I was asked to help out with a local club team from my home city. As your typical college student, I saw it as a paycheck and opportunity to have an easy job that involved my favorite sport. I’d never imagine it would teach me so many lessons along the way. From coaching middle school, high school and college athletes, I not only found I loved coaching, but that it gave back in so many ways. Whether you’re still in high school, college or haven’t seen a classroom in years, think about giving back to the lacrosse community. If you need an encouragement, read below:
- Back to basics. When I first started coaching, one of the first things that I realized was that when you coach younger players in particular, you’re forced to address the fundamentals. Over. And Over. And Over. While there’s nothing quite as riveting as repping a basic step, save or positioning, it actually forces you to go back to the basics as well. I found that after the summers I coached, I actually became a BETTER player because I had spent countless hours not only thinking about, but also demonstrating the most fundamental skills. Elite players are built on strong fundamentals. Embrace this part of coaching, and you’ll find not only your players get better, but so do you!
- Learn something new. One of the best things about coaching is that you’re usually not doing it alone. Whether you’re coaching with other college players or coaches, chances are you’ll run into someone who does things differently than you- and that’s a GOOD thing! Coaching with others is a great opportunity to learn new drills and ways of approaching the game. Soak up everything, even if you don’t agree with it, you never know when it might come in handy! Learning never stops, at least not for the good coaches (and players!).
- Gain perspective. Remember that one time as a player when you were convinced that your coach hated you because you couldn’t get a drill right? Or maybe that you thought there was some special reason you were or were not placed on a certain scrimmage team? Coaching is a great opportunity to gain some perspective on what life is like for the other side. Now you will experience the frustration of explaining a drill what feels like 17 million times, only to have your players STILL not get it right. You’ll also get to that point where it’s just easier to split teams on something stupid like even or odd numbers, not realizing that players are totally reading into it. Most importantly, you’ll learn what it is like to truly want something for your players, but come to the understanding that you cannot do it for them– they must figure it out. If you take one thing away from coaching, it will be that holding the whistle isn’t as easy as you always thought it would be.
- Communication is key. Coaching requires that you have strong communication skills, both on and off of the field. The obvious part is communicating to your players. You must be able to communicate drills and plays, hold them accountable and so much more. You’ll find quickly that it takes a loud, yet also understanding voice. Not to mention that there is a fine line between losing your cool and sending a strong message to get your player’s attention. Once the practice or game is finished, you’ll also discover a whole new arena of communication- with parents. My best advice,
- There’s more to life than lacrosse. Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons that coaching can offer is that lacrosse is just a game. Throughout your time as a coach, many of your players will encounter life problems of which you will be charged with helping them get through. Whether it’s a parent’s divorce, bully at school, a death in the family or some other life event, being a coach allows you the opportunity to understand that lacrosse truly is just a game. It’s an excellent vehicle for tackling life skills, but we should all keep in perspective that the players are there to have fun first and foremost. Often times it is the outlet that they look forward to most, and an avenue to escape life’s problems, even for just a few hours. You are their coach, but also role model, confidant and so much more. Use your powers to inspire, uplift and challenge the next generation.
Happy laxing! Have a question or topic you want covered? Submit it HERE and we may choose it for our next Five for Friday!