Over the past 12 months or so, our athlete development team has had an opportunity to present to somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 people from all walks of the lacrosse community about our efforts with the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model. One common theme pops up from time to time in these presentations. “I like what you guys are saying, it all makes sense, I want to do this but I can’t because...”  Have you found yourself saying the same thing?

Several years ago I heard about a teacher who eliminated the word “can’t” from her students vocabulary.  Figuratively and literally they buried the word. She actually had her students write the word “can’t” on a piece of paper, sign their name to it and place it in a box. She then took her students outside one day, dug a hole and together they buried the box. My challenge to you as a coach, parent, or administrator is to bury your can’t.

Take for instance, running an LADM style, station based practice. Coaches love the concept, but often say, “I can’t do this because we don’t have enough coaches.” 

I disagree. It’s not that you don’t have enough coaches, you just haven’t figured out who your coaches will be. Can you ask parents to help? Most parents could certainly roll out a ball for a ground ball drill or organize a game of 3v2 keep away. Have you asked them to help? Better yet, in your program why not require it? Yes, require each athlete’s parent to spend three hours of the season on the field helping. 20 players = a minimum of 20 parents = 60 hours of help. Who knows, they might even decide they like it and ask to help more. 

“TJ, you’re off your rocker. I do everything I can to separate parents from my coaching and you’re suggesting I make them help me?” Maybe. What has been found in research, though, is that when you include people, they’re less likely to complain or be problems. They’re “in the know,” which helps them understand why you do what you do, and the decisions you have to make. The coach, athlete, and parent are connected in a triangular relationship. The coach and parent points have the greatest impact on the athlete when they work together.

Another option to consider is having players serve as a “coach.” Peer coaching is one of the greatest tools available to help a coach manage a large number of players, while having a limited staff of adult coaches. Not only does it solve the number of coaches problem, but it also helps build many skills that are transferrable to life off the field. Click here to learn a little more about using peers as coaches.

There is no such thing as an unsolvable problem, only solutions you haven’t tried yet. To quote Thomas Edison: “When you have exhausted all your possibilities, remember this; you haven’t.”


Lacrosse Athlete Development Model

Providing every athlete the opportunity to enter, enjoy and excel by learning and playing lacrosse in a way that’s best for each stage of growth and development.

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