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As the season gets near, you should have goals in mind for yourself and team. It is important to have goals because these goals are what drive you thru the hard times if you have a true passion for wanting to complete them. If you don’t have the desire to set goals then I’m going to guess you don’t want to improve as much as the opposition. But, then again if you are taking the time to read my blog then I bet you are trying to improve your game.

Setting goals is important. It is good to set short term goals so that you have something to focus on in the near future. But, these goals should all be aiming towards your long term goals. That way if you don’t meet one of you short term goals then it should drive you to improve your game to make up for your long term goals. I think that is an important part of goal setting.

Your goals should be realist and apply to this lacrosse season only. If you are younger, you goals should be something like I want to improve my weak hand so that I can use it in the games. And your long term goal could be to score one goal with your weak hand in a game. But, if you are older you goal might want to be more team oriented, like if you are a defensemen. Your goal could be that you don’t want to get any penalties in a game so you don’t put your team in a bad spot. And you long term goal for the season could be to have the best man down unit in the state.

I think it is better to make goals that are about improving you game and not worried about numbers. That way if you don’t meet your numbers it isn’t such a disappointment. These goals without numbers are harder to gauge if you completed them. But these types of goals will make you happier if you do complete them.

So, here is your task for this season. Set five short term goals. One to be completed by the time the season starts and the other four divided though out the season. Then set three long term goals to be completed by the end of the season.  WRITE THEM DOWN. Then give a copy to your coach if, he hasn’t already talk to you about your goals. Put these put so you can see them everyday, even a place where others that care about you can see them. Like your school locker or bathroom mirror. Then try your hardest to complete your goals. If you do complete them, it will make feel so good about yourself and want more. Which is a great thing, because then you will want to apply the goal setting rules you learned here and apply them to your life.

Check out more at www.coachgafner.com

Kids you have to realize how IMPORTANT your grades are. Parents and coaches tell you about how much they mean all the time. Why do you think that is? Because they are important and help guide your future. If you ask anyone that is done with school, where that is college or high school, I bet 90% of these people wish they could have done better. You don’t ever hear anyone say “I wish I would have tried less”. Why do you think that is, because you will always or should always want more out of yourself. That drive to be better, is what defines us as people.

I think you kids have to realizes that coaches do want their players to get better at lacrosse but, not at the expense of their grades. I want my players to excel in the classroom first, so when they hit the field they will be ready to do the same. I don’t want players that are all books and don’t care about lacrosse either, but to play on my team your grades must come first. It isn’t the end of the world if you have to miss a couple practices to finish a project? No, even if that means you don’t start in the next game? No, it isn’t. Colleges don’t care about lacrosse unless they are recruiting you and guess what they still look at your grades. Why? Because, the school work is going to get harder and the practices longer.

So, take your school work serious. Trust me college is hard; I’m still going, but it is the best time of your life. Take the same approach to school work as you do to lacrosse. By that I mean, put the hard work in and the long hours and the results should show. And get some help. Lacrosse player don’t practice by themselves, so don’t study by yourself either. In college about a year ago, I had my hardest class I had ever taken. The teacher demanded so much out of us students, it seemed unfair. But, I tired my hardest. I didn’t get the grade I wanted, but I learned so much about the subject that it made me want to get better for my job. The next term, I had part two with that teacher and it was great. I learned so much and had a great time, besides putting in long hours to get all the work done. And I got the grade I wanted too.

You see you have to realize that your parents and coaches have been though this before. It may have been 3 years ago or 15 years. But they can help. The people that care the most are the one that give you the most grief.

So try your hardest and have fun in the process. Grades are important so take take pride in them and try to have the same passion for them as you do lacrosse that as the season starts. And good luck.

Check out more at www.coachgafner.com

Coaching is not a one man job.  I don’t care if your name is Dave Pietramala (Johns Hopkins’ Coach) or Jim Berkman (Salisbury’s Coach) you can’t do it alone.  That goes for any level of coaching.  If you want to win or be more productive the more qualified coaches the better.  Think of every good team in college or pro sports they have coaches for offenses and defense, some even more.  The big college programs and professional teams have different helpers doing extra tasks to bring players water.  As a result the best way to get better at something is to watch the best and apply that to your team.

Last year when I knew I was going to coach for the first time, the first mission was to see if my friends that I understood and played sports could help me out.  One wanted to help out right away, his name was Randall Palmer.  He played football in high school and had free time after work.  He was excited to say the least.  Then my next goal was to get my other friend to Cory Spence, who will post on here now and then, to coach with me too.  He has played football and basketball in high school.  When Randall and Cory said they were going to help when they could I knew it was a good thing for the team.  For many different reasons, first they understood sports and knew that the boys had to be productive if they wanted to get better.  Second, they were willing to learn the game of lacrosse from scratch.  Third, I trusted them with the boys if I wasn’t there.  That is important, when looking for helpers/coaches you want to make sure you can trust them.  Since they are going to be around the boys and parents hear everything from kids and every choice you make get analyzed.

I didn’t have time before the season to teach them much about the game.  So, if you can get to your new coaches or helper before the season that will make things a lot easier.  One thing I think this past summer was take the US Lacrosse Level 1 Coaching Clinic.  I would suggest, no matter what level if you are a coach you should take that.  It was great to be around a bunch of coaches and level from some of the best was a neat experience and will help your program a lot.

When our practices started last year I set up drills and had Randall and Cory run them.  I would give them things to watch for so that they were still helping the player progress.  An example would be, on ground ball drills I wanted the guys to get after players to have two hands on their stick at all times and for good body position.  That way I could do more coaching during the drills and they could make sure the guys are being productive.  Plus they were learning on the job.  Then towards the end of drills I would go setup the next drill and when I was ready I would call them over and do the same process again. 

Something else to think about is what your new coach’s backgrounds was in or even yours, because that can play a factor.  As the season went on we needed to get away from the basics so since I played attack I would work with the offense and Randal and Cory would work with the defense.  I would explain what needed to happen at first.  With both Randal and Cory have sports background they knew how the basics of defense to JV players, and did a great job. 

As the season went on I asked my high school goalie and good friend to come help out a couple of times.  He did and that made a huge difference.  Then I got a another friend to help out and be just a helper, that was nice because that just saved me a lot of time from doing things that wasted time during practice.  And as the season went on the things fell into place and the team started to improve their skills just like my little coaching staff.      

I tell you my story to verify that fact that anyone can coach if they have passion for the game.  I hope this helps you get more people or friends to help coach lacrosse with you. 

Coaching is hard enough, get help.  It will make a difference, trust me.  If you put in the same passion to coach your coaches as you do you players.  It will make your life easier and your players will develop faster.

Check out more at www.coachgafner.com

These are five things that I want players to think about as they enter this season.  If you are coaching this year I would like you to comment on other things that will help players this year too.

1. Attitude
As you enter this season you have to have the right attitude.  You have to be willing to learn and ready to listen.  If you have the right attitude, you will do a lot more of the small things without knowing it.  I have one player on my team last year that had the best attitude.  It really took me over a year to realize that it was his attitude that was the reason for his improvement.

2. Work Ethic
If you are willing to put in the hard work then the results will show.  Apart of your work ethic is practicing the right way.  You need to be aware of the time you have to get better and use it well.  I understand you have a lot going on with your life, I went thought it, but when you make time to practice or have practice use that time to the fullest.  Last year at the start of my season the guys on my team wanted to goof around a lot, I didn’t mind it sometimes.  But they didn’t want to goof around during a drill or a time when we had to be productive.  Some of the biggest improvers on my team last year were players that had a great work ethic.  So, adjust your work ethic to make the most of this season.

3. Ability To Understand The Game
A problem with a lot of new teams or teams that aren’t on the east coast or teams that aren’t successful is they just don’t understand the game that well.  Everyone that plays lacrosse should always be learning about the game.  That goes for coaches too.  To understand you have to learn why teams do things.  For a lot of newer and unsuccessful teams they don’t understand the right way to play the game because they don’t have the talent or personal to play lacrosse the right way.  So, the first thing to do to understand the game is to ask questions to other coaches or players.  You can always ask me, if I don’t know I will do my best to find someone who can.  After that watch a lot of lacrosse games to analyze what the teams are doing and why.  And if you do understand the game pretty well, you need to help your teammates get a better grasp. 

4. Communication
This is another area that you can always improve your game by being a better communicator.  It is easy to think for yourself, but to play team defense takes a lot of work and communication.  This communication develops on the practice field and translates to the game field the better you are at it.  I also think you need to work on you communication with your coaches too.  If you don’t understand something they want you to get, talk to them about it when they have free time.  They will help, because they teaching to something for a reason, which is to improve your game and help, the team win.  If you communicate with you teammates off the field, about when you are going to practice on your own or training your team will get better faster.  Keep the communication lines open so that your teammates know they can call on you for help too.  You will find yourself practicing more, too.

5. Don’t take things Personal
Trust me a good coach should tell you things that are going to make you mad.  But, do not take it personal.  As a coach I do want the players to like me, that is how I get them to push it when practice is rough.  But, some players need to hear things about their game.  An example is I always tell players to scoop a ground ball with two hands.  We had a couple of kids I will yell at lot about this. I hope they didn’t take it personal.  I was just trying to make them and the team better.  This is a good thing to know, you kids might think us coaches are out to get you but we aren’t.  We just want to help. 

Try to improve in these five areas and I know your lacrosse game will improve greatly.  Leave me a comment and tell me your results.

Check out more at www.coachgafner.com

This Sunday, I headed up to Lehigh’s King of the Mountain tournament. On top of $1.95/gallon gas prices that I took advantage of in New Jersey, the Fall Ball jamboree was very worthwhile. There were forty teams there from all over the northeast, including one team from Canada. The weather was cold and windy, forcing most of the players to wear sweatpants/leggings throughout the day, except for the Canadians of course.

This was my third tournament I have attended this fall, and the old adage held true that the third camp was the charm. I arrived at King of the Mountain looking for two types of players. One, I was looking for a couple of athletic poles to add to an already talented list of defensive recruits. And two, I looked for an offensive player who had the potential to quarterback an offense. In general, however, I was looking for seniors with potential who have slipped through the cracks and remained under the radar for one reason or another.

My criteria for evaluating defensemen consisted of the following: Most importantly, does he have the speed to keep up with his attackman/middie? Not looking for take away artists, does he play solid angles and stay on his attackman/middie’s hands, making him as uncomfortable as possible without getting out of position? Looking to play an upbeat style of play, a defenseman with the ability to get the ball up off the ground and have composure with the ball in his stick is key. He must be able to move it upfield by either passing it to a teammate ahead of the play or legging it himself. I found a couple defenseman who fit this mold and contacted them first thing Monday morning.

On the offensive end, I was looking for someone to come in and be a quarterback of an offense. Currently, our list of recruits is loaded with athletes on the offensive end. I was looking for an attackman or middie who understood how to play within the offense of their respective club team, communicated non stop, and possessed the intangibles. Players who can dodge through six guys and score at the high school level are most likely not going to be as successfull at the college level. All the pressure for kids to stand out at these Jamborees often forces them to play out of their comfort zone. I was looking for a player that saw the field well and communicated what he saw to his teammates.

In the end, every coach at every level is looking for hustle. After a mistake, will the player compound the mistake by either getting a penalty or not hustling back on defense or off the field? Coaches keep track of every positive thing they see on the field. They also keep track of every negative thing they see on the field. For instance, I received a highlight tape from a high school player in the mail. I watched it, and the kid looked talented. I showed the tape to the head coach. He referenced his notes from the summer to see if he missed this kid. Next to the kids name was written “absolutely not-no hustle!” That closed the book on our relationship with this kid. So, when in doubt, hustle.

Initiating Contact

I received e-mails from a bunch of players notifying me that they will be attending the tournament. I appreciate the effort, therefore, the first teams I watch play are those who have contacted me ahead of time. If other coaches are like me, I advise high school players to contact the head and assistant coaches of their schools of interest. It is like dealing with a warm lead if you were a salesman, which many college coaches are.

A few tips on what to include in your initial e-mail.

1) Your name.
2) The club team you are playing for.
3) The jersey number you are wearing. If you are not wearing the number listed on your teams roster you might as well not show up.
4) Your position.
5) Keep it brief and spell check. Do not e-mail coaches as if it were a text message.

Do not write “im gonna be at lehigh this sunday and was hopin that you could watch me play. i really wanna play college lacrosse.” We, of course, appreciate the interest. But, let the coach decide how casual the e-mails will be. It does not matter how talented a recruiting class is if they cannot stay academically eligible for the spring. An e-mail with poor grammar will do more harm that good, it will either indicate lack of effort, lack of attention to detail, lack of interest, or lack of intelligence. So, have your mom, dad, brother, sister, or college advisor proofread all e-mails if you do not trust your own writing.

~Anonymous Coach

In the last year, the LacrosseRecruits team worked to put together a recruiting guide that would make high school lacrosse players and their parent’s lives easier. We have answered hundreds of emails and have spent countless hours helping players and parents navigate the recruiting process. We are happy to offer A High School Athlete’s Recruiting Guide To College Lacrosse to the lacrosse community. We set out to provide a resource that answers difficult questions and sets players on their path to success, and I know our guide accomplishes that task.

lacrosserecruits_bookA High School Athlete’s Recruiting Guide To College Lacrosse
is your road map to achieving results, tracking progress and evaluating college programs. The guide addresses many issues including:
1. Admissions
2. Financial Aid
3. NCAA & MCLA Eligibility
4. What Coaches look for in a player
5. How to get noticed by college coaches
6. The parents role and responsibility
7. The recruiting timeline
8. How to be proactive, a personal “action plan” and more.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Thank you, Chris Meade
chris@lacrosserecruits.com

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