Lane Errington | @lane_errington
Duke Athletics recently released a series of videos from the first of four Duke men’s lacrosse coaching clinics held on Sept. 25. Coach John Danowski (who is a great Twitter follow) and staff covered a wide range of topics in the two-hour session, but one that stood out to me was building standards for player development at the youth, middle school, and high school levels.
Check out this approximately 13-minute video. If you’re not convinced by Duke’s national championship pedigree, consider the following:
You’ll notice progressions throughout the lecture in supporting the physical, cognitive, and skill progression of each age group. For more on these topics, download a copy of the US Lacrosse Youth Rules & Best Practice Guidebooks for boys and girls.
Four key takeaways for each level:
- It’s the why, not the what. The biggest detriment to youth player development is winning and losing.
- Focus on the basics, i.e., passing, catching, scooping, dodging, spacing on offense, simple defensive concepts.
- Kids should play all positions.
- Modify the size of the field, when appropriate. It’s not a track meet. US Lacrosse recommends modified fields for U9 and U11 age groups.
Middle school (4:41)
- If you’re unsure, ask your local high school coach how you can prepare kids for JV lacrosse and beyond.
- You’re creating habits that last a lifetime. Fundamentals have to become almost monotonous to your players. Without them, you won’t be successful with the next point.
- Begin to install team concepts (i.e., effort on the ride, cutting through on offense, and introducing one slide to your team defense).
- Be efficient with your limited practice time. If you’re not organized as a coach, you’ll lose the players’ attention quickly. Download the US Lacrosse Mobile Coach app for an assist with practice organization.
High School (9:59)
- Take fundamentals to the next level, drilling down by position, including specialty players (i.e., defensive midfield, wing play on faceoffs).
- Start incorporating game management and situational concepts (i.e., substitution patterns, down one goal with two minutes to play).
- Clearly communicate the importance of roles to the team, and to each player.
- It’s not necessarily important to a college coach that a player come from a good program because they win, but because they know how to compete against other good players on a daily basis.
I also recommend the video on making tough decisions as a coach, which discusses, among other topics, the all-important parent-coach relationship.
Speaking of, it wasn’t a tough decision to respect Coach Dino after watching this post-game gesture on Memorial Day. This is the embodiment of winning with class.
Duke will host two more coaching clinics on campus as part of its annual series. You can register here for clinics on Nov. 20, and Dec. 10 and earn continuing education credit toward your US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program certification.
Want to hear more from Coach Danowski and dozens of the nation’s premier college coaches? Purchase an early-bird ticket (just $95) to the US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by Champion, Jan. 10-12 in Philadelphia.
Video Credit: GoDuke.comPhoto Credit: Lee Weissman