Of course, lacrosse is a joy to watch at the professional level, but most of its participants are young children across the country who may never score at a goal at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. But, there’s nothing wrong with that. For them, America’s oldest sport is a golden opportunity for athlete development and a whole lot of fun, too. If you coach youth lacrosse, learn a few quick tips for how to enhance your players’ experience.
6 Steps to Enhance Youth Athlete Development
1) Make Lacrosse Practice Fun
The first key to hooking kids on playing the game of lacrosse is to make practice enjoyable for all. Whether you are teaching the fundamentals or running line drills, mix in fun activities. For example, at one point in practice you could split players up for a game of sharks and minnows.
2) Create Age Appropriate Lacrosse Activities
There’s no doubt that lacrosse can be an intimidating sport to try at first. Since there is a bit of a learning curve, it’s important that instruction remain age appropriate. Otherwise, young athletes could become discouraged and miss out on all the great things lacrosse has to offer them.
3) Keep the Experience about the Players
A player-centered approach for a youth lacrosse team is another best practice that coaches can follow. By focusing on individual learning, you will be able to help all the members of your team get the most out of sports participation. For example, many experienced lacrosse coaches will occasionally take athletes aside to emphasize teaching points.
4) Maximize Small-Sided Play
Just like in a large class in school, kids can sometimes get lost among the crowd on a big team. To make sure everyone stays involved, lacrosse coaches can schedule time each practice for small-sided competition. With more opportunities for everyone to catch, throw, shoot and check, this athlete development strategy helps both the weak and strong players on your team.
5) Allow Time for Free Play
Lacrosse instruction is always important, but sometimes kids just want to have fun. In addition to practicing the fundamentals and working on team strategy, consider including time in your practice for free play. Informal scrimmages are fun for all and are a good way for young athletes to experiment with what they just learned.
6) Be Inclusive to all Athletes
No matter where they are from or what their background is, every young person can benefit from playing lacrosse. Teams that are inclusive to all aid the athlete development of everyone.
Youth lacrosse coaching is a great way to get involved in your community and help encourage the development of young people. By following these suggestions --- developed by US Lacrosse – you can enhance the sports experience for all participants.