4 Tips for Youth Lacrosse Coaches
There aren’t many more fulfilling activities for adults than to coach youth sports. It’s a way to stay involved in a sport they love (or want to get more involved in) and it’s an opportunity to make a positive impact on the next generation. Sports can often be used as a metaphor for life, so while your job is to help young athletes on the field, court, or ice, you’re also helping shape their personality for every-day life.
With that in mind, here are four tips all lacrosse coaches should keep in mind when hitting the field with their squad.
Create a Fun and Positive Environment
Let’s not forget that lacrosse is a game, and games are supposed to be fun! Kids are participating in lacrosse because they either want to try a new sport or because they already like participating in it. The purpose of youth coaches isn’t necessarily to win championships – it’s to help nurture and advance that passion for the sport itself.
If a lacrosse player continues to enjoy their interactions with other lax players while being on the field, they’ll want to keep coming back every year. If they dread it by the time a season is over, the likelihood of them signing up and playing again next year is very slim.
Design Practices Appropriately
There’s a place and time for everything, and the lacrosse field isn’t exempt from that. If you’re coaching a bunch of nine- and 10-year-old lax players, make sure you plan a practice with drills and games that are appropriate for their age and skill level.
It’s also important to keep them engaged – nobody likes standing around and not doing much, and sometimes that’s all it takes to lose a kid’s interest in what they’re doing. So, staying organized and having practice meticulously mapped out will help prevent that.
The Best Players Don’t Always Have to Move Up
We see this scenario play out many times every year – there is a certain lax player that is clearly better than everyone else on the field. Parents and/or coaches may feel the need to move that child into the next bracket of competition to give them more of a “challenge.” If the player actually wants to move up, that’s one thing, but lots of times, this desire comes from somewhere else.
Don’t forget, this is supposed to be fun, so leaving the age group where all of their friends are may not be very fun for a player. Plus, remaining in their current situation will help them learn other skills, like how to be a good teammate, how to take on a leadership role, and much more.
Let the Kids Rest, and Be Kids!
The recurring theme here is that lacrosse is a game and should be viewed through that particular lens. That means giving them a break to rest. There shouldn’t be practices every single day of the week, and when it’s the offseason, it should actually be break where they get an extended period of time off. This will help with preventing overuse injuries and also burnout – whether it’s of the physical or mental variety.