You want to play on your high school lacrosse team. Where do you start?
Maybe you’ve had a lacrosse stick in your hand since you could walk. Or maybe you found the game in middle school or during your freshman year of high school and feel in love with the sport.
No matter what stage your are in your career, you can get better. LaxRecords.com talked to several high school lacrosse coaches from around the country to get their expert advice to improve your lacrosse skills.
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Spend time working to increase your speed and quickness. Use parachute runs to help increase your outright speed. Use jump rope, ladders to help increases your foot speed.
Outright speed is valued, but you can make up for straight-ahead speed with quickness.
“Athleticism and speed. If they have foot speed, quickness and intelligence the rest of the game you can teach them,” Santa Fe Christian head coach Tom DeMaio said.
“You can’t coach it. You want kids to get up and down,” St. Paul’s (Brooklandville, Md.) head coach Rick Brocato said. “You want them to beat someone to a ground ball or to get into position. That speed is something we really value.”
“If someone has speed, we see that and we know we can put them in the right position to succeed,” Medfield (Mass.) head coach John Isaf said. “There’s another aspect. quickness or explosion. The great thing about lacrosse is it’s a sport anyone can succeed at. If you can dodge in a phone booth and you have an explosive first step and change direction, you don’t have to run a 4.3 40-yard dash.”
Field awareness or lacrosse IQ goes a long way in making up for any lack of speed you may have. Do you know where the ball is going to be? How is the offense unfolding? Playing and watching lots of lacrosse can help you understand the nuances of the game and increase your knowledge, which can translate into your play.
“What’s their field awareness. Do they understand where to go with the ball? Do they playing team lacrosse – are they making the extra pass,” Isaf said. “Are they going after the ground ball in traffic? Is that person communicating on defense? Are they calling ‘one more’ on offense?”
“You need to start seeing some plays before they happen,” Brocato said. “Getting in the right spot when a teammate picks up the ground ball, so you’re in a passing lane rather than being at a disadvantage for a teammate.”
“Test yourself in the offseason. If you’re an offensive player, find a varsity player and do one-on-ones. If you’re on the JV, play up with the older kids and get a feel for how they move around,” DeMaio said. “Watching a lot of lacrosse helps. Know the terminology. The more you know about lacrosse helps when you want to move to the varsity.”
“Preparation. Varsity players need to be ready for any variable: if your stick breaks, your back-up is a exactly the same as your game stick. It’s cold out so you know how to dress for these conditions. It’s hot so you start hydrating before the practice or game,” Cranbrook School (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) Head Coach Mat Wilson said. “At some point as a coach, you’d hope that the Seniors on your team are so prepared that they are able to help the younger guys with these situations: “You forgot your game socks? Here you go, I have an extra pair”
Be a Leader
Leadership comes in many forms. Lead by example or lead by communicating. Whichever you chose, just lead. Even in you’re a freshman, you can separate yourself from the average player by helping other players get better.
“So many kids at that level aren’t communicating,” DeMaio said. “If you walk in, even if you’ve never played before, and you’re calling out 1s and 2 slides or you’re cutting through on dodges. That stands out to a coach. Big time.”
“Have a great attitude. A genuine and positive spirit,” Brocato said. “Being selfless and having those leadership characters are somethings that can really set you apart.”
“The guys who hustle and are aggressive and physical. The guys who are leaders on the field and hustle through every drill and every ground ball,” Isaf said. “Guys who encourage their teammate and are excited to be there. They want to be coached and want to be part of the program.”
“High school is a unique time for athletes because it’s a transition from being a child to an adult. Maturity is a huge factor,” Wilson said. “I think it’s important to understand the big picture. JV or freshman teams are geared towards this experience. You are being prepared for the Varsity team and you will eventually get your chance so embrace the process. I love to see younger players who are able to put “mistakes” behind them,” Wilson said. “Coaches love kids who play as fast as they can and understand that “mistakes” will happen. Go out there and make a play! Coachable. You hear this all the time and it really is the biggest factor.”
Be in Shape
You increase your chances of making the team if you’re already in shape on Day 1 of tryouts. If you’re already in shape, you can focus on learning the offense. If you have to spend a week or two rounding into lacrosse shape, you’re behind the curve.
“Come out in shape,” Brocato said. “Then you don’t have to worry about getting in shape and learning the system. Being in shape and having stamina to sustain your running is important too. We have techniques to work on speed.”
“You should see a bigger focus on conditioning and a lot more running in practice,” DeMaio said. “You want a kid to show up Day 1, in tryouts, in shape. You don’t want to have to work to get them into shape. It goes back to the work ethic. It’s seeing a kid and knowing he’s going to work to get to the next level. That drive is going to indicate if he’s going to be a role player. Or if he’s driven, you know he’s going to be a contributor.”
“Physical fitness is a huge factor in high school sports, especially lacrosse,” Wilson said. “The sport is referred to as the fastest game on two feet, which to me means you need to be able to run… and run.. and keep on running!”
Be a Teammate
You might have dreams of scoring the winning goal or making the game-winning save or having the ball with five seconds left in the game, but don’t sacrifice the better play for the possibility of glory. Show coaches you can make the smart play and be a good teammate and you’ll increase your chances of seeing the field.
“Are they making the extra pass. Are they going after the ground ball in traffic? Is that person communicating on defense? Are they calling ‘one more’ on offense?” Isaf said. “The players who stand out, play harder and faster. We really look for great teammates. Guys who are going to be positive and encouraging and team oriented.”
“Be willing to make the people around you better,” Brocato said. “Understand your place on the team. I love seeing the younger kids come out for the varsity and willing to challenge themselves. What are you willing to do to make your team better? If you are a young man who can pick up ground balls in traffic, we will find a spot for you to play.”
“We recognize right away what type of player they can develop into,” DeMaio said. “Are they communicating on the field. What’s their work ethic like? Do they play like a good teammate? That’s stuff right off the bat, you can tell.”