Because You Played It, Doesn’t Mean You Can Teach It
I graduated from UMASS in 1993 and started my camp business in 1994. During that time, I have had over 25,000 young men attend my camps. I’ve also done countless clinics around the nation, coached high school varsity lacrosse at Gilman, and coached many years of my sons youth teams. All in addition to playing youth lacrosse, HS lacrosse, NCAA lacrosse, nine years in the NLL, and 2-time a world champion with Team USA. Totaled, I have been on a lacrosse field for likely half of my life. During those years, I have become a better teacher and student of the game every single day. What I’ve found the most interesting and what has taught me the most about lacrosse instruction is what I’ve learned from my other athletic passion; golf. Golf has taught me two major points.
- Because you play or played it, doesn’t mean you can teach it. I have become a pretty good golfer over the years. I am currently a 3 handicap which is close to the equivalent of playing high level golf or fairly analogous to playing NCAA lacrosse. So guess what-I can play golf but I couldn’t teach you one darn thing about how to become a better golfer. I don’t know about the swing and the methodologies behind it, I have become pretty good because Ive practiced it and its somewhat natural to me. So why in lacrosse does every single club program or camp tout the “former player” as a great coach? Really? Does playing lacrosse at a fairly high level mean he can make your son better?
- Offensive skill in lacrosse is difficult, golf is difficult. Many of the movements are similar and involve multiple body parts moving very fast at the same time. So, I believe in order to instruct someone you need to capture those moving parts through video. Did you know you cannot take a golf lesson in this country today without the use of video analysis? It is impossible to see the hand, hip, shoulder, wrist, and head movements with a naked eye, its too fast…too much happening. Yet how many “coaches” in lacrosse are using video to teach individual skill? Not many.
How about true methodology? There are probably 5,000 golf instructional books/dvd’s and about 5 major schools of thought on the golf swing. What about lacrosse? Do the ncaa players who come home and teach your sons over the summer have methodologies? How do they know what they teach to a young player during a lesson is being executed correctly out on the field without video? In golf, you couldn’t take a lesson from a college golfer; you go to a PGA professional. It’s how golf works.
So, why then aren’t lacrosse instructors/coaches using these technologies? Why does it seem that teaching lacrosse is so “off the cuff” vs golf? It’s simple. There were around 25 million active golfers in the U.S. in 2014, the industry is massive and the money that can be and has been spent on instructional technology is equally as huge. It has been this way for 75 years or more. While I wish these simple teaching tools that are the norm in golf carried over more consistently in lacrosse, there are however, some lacrosse people who do it right. My suggestion to you is to do the research and work hard to find them. Stop accepting that your town or club has good coaches and instruction simply because there is former DI, DII, or DIII players involved. Invest the time to find an experienced instructor with a methodology that makes sense and is real. Its a hard game to play and you only get one chance to get it for your kids.