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Who's Coaching the Coaches?

Focus more of your time talking to your players, being curious, listening, getting to know and understand how they learn and respond to coaching. Build a relationship of trust with your people.


How do you prepare for each season? How do you stay current during the season? Do you attend coaching clinics and seminars? Read books written by famous players and coaches in the game? Spend hours on YouTube finding new drills, schemes, techniques?

Building your lacrosse tool bag is easy and fun – unlimited resources, unlimited opinions on the Xs and Os, and heck, the more you know, right?

But what are you doing about building yourself as a coach beyond the framework of lacrosse? What are you doing to be a better coach to your players? What are you doing to be a better leader? What are you doing to build better leaders?

The answers to these questions are far less easy than the earlier ones. However, the skills we are talking about are as important, if not more important than the previous. Truth is – you can have great drills, great schemes and awesome techniques, but if you aren’t effective as a coach, or a leader, they don’t matter. All that greatness goes to waste without the ability to communicate and provide the one thing your athletes need most – leadership.

Over the past 30 years there has been a drastic change across all levels of our sport on the approaches and techniques to best coach, communicate and lead players and teams. Though not unique, our challenges have become more complicated and the challenges facing coaches and leaders today have a level of complexity not seen before.

Whether you’re a youth, high school or college level coach these challenges are real, and how you prepare and resource yourself will greatly impact your effectiveness as a coach and leader. If you are not evolving or considering all the areas in which you influence your players and people you should evaluate your philosophy as a leader and coach.

To help evaluate and understand the areas we all need to consider and develop we ask “Who is Coaching the Coaches?” Are you preparing to resource your players and people at the level necessary for them to thrive in every aspect of their lives. Coaching and Leading in 2018 comes with a great deal of responsibility.


Most coaches make a concerted effort to keep up with the x’s and o’s, or the new fads and gimmicks. Attending clinics, watching videos and reading books. We can tell you that over the past 30 years we’ve seen the same trends and fads come and go then come back again. It is a lot more than what you know, its how you communicate with your players and people.

If you are not able to implement systems in a way that allows the players to continue to develop and feel comfortable in the heat of competition or pressure, your knowledge and skill (capability) doesn’t matter.

Are you developing capacity for yourself and your players? This is not found in playbooks or clinics. What is the difference between capability and capacity. Capability is preparing for the known. Skill development, offensive sets, slide schemes and EMO plays. In business, it’s mastering PowerPoint, Excel or Word. It is a specific learned skill.

As a coach or a leader if you do not develop capacity in both yourself and your players, they become robots following a script and you cannot provide them with the direction or insights to overcome the unknown.

What happens when that script breaks down? Capacity takes over! Capacity is preparing for the unknown. Having the ability to read and react to situations. Make decisions under stressful or hectic situations.

Understanding and developing capacity has nothing to do with x’s and o’s, but everything to do with giving up control and allowing your players and people to fail and learn from failure. Are you providing them the tools to handle the unknown? As is everyday life, lacrosse is unpredictable and unscripted. The best coaches embrace capacity and develop it in their players and teams. Capacity develops IQ, which we all know is key to success, and a rare commodity right now.


Thirty years ago it was one size fit all when it came to coaching and motivating players. It wasn’t a correct way to lead, but it was accepted.  That is no longer the case.

Players respond differently to “motivation” and process information each in their own unique way. Are you adjusting your style to fit the needs of the individual or taking the one size fits all approach? There are still “old school” type kids who can not only handle “hard” coaching, but thrive from it, but for every one of those players there are two others who are paralyzed or significantly limited by this approach. In these cases they either shut down and cannot perform or feel a sense of guilt that they are letting you down as a coach or leader.

In both cases the results are negative and the player will not be able to respond positively. Not because they don’t want to, but because they are not wired to succeed with that type of leadership. This is also something you do not learn at clinics or in strategy books and videos. It can only be learned in leadership and positive coaching programs. After all, coaches are leaders of the most important kind. The impact they have on young people will last a lifetime.

The same can be said for how players learn. Some learn visually, some must run through the task and then there is the special few can be told what to do and execute it.

How are you resourcing your players and people to learn and develop? Do you use different teaching approaches, and or combine teaching approaches to accommodate all learning styles? If not, it is impossible to get the best out of each and every one of your people. You need to lead them to reach their potential, not the potential you envision for them. If you don’t, you are only reaching a select few, and never to the level they can achieve.

So how do you build this coaching skill set? The answer to this question is actually as simple to do as the earlier question about building your lacrosse tool bag.

Instead of reading books about lacrosse, read a book about how the brain works; instead of watching a YouTube video done by some D1 coach, look at a TEDTalk about leadership; instead of sitting for hours writing up Xs and Os, sit down and write a sentence about what inspires each of your players; instead of talking to your mentor about how he/she clears the ball, discuss how they react when kids make mistakes.

Focus more of your time talking to your players, being curious, listening, getting to know and understand how they learn and respond to coaching. Build a relationship of trust with your people.

The question we have is: what is more important to you – winning or building winners? If the answer is the latter, you need to start building up this side of your lacrosse…we mean coaching…we mean leadership tool bag.

As we said in the opening, there are so many variables to consider now as a coach and leader. It is no longer as simple and straightforward as it was in the old days. Are you actively developing your skills to best serve your players, team and people.

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