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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

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