What is in the water in Baltimore? Lacrosse magic! People used to ask the same thing about fast growing Minnesota lacrosse in the hot bed of Eden Prairie before the surrounding areas caught up. Surely they have some secret the rest of us don’t. Maybe if we just push the kids a little harder, start them a little earlier, maybe we can catch up….
Let’s look a little deeper into the real reason these hot beds exist- some of them are not even places where the sport has been around all that long. There’s more to it than location.
1. Volume. It’s simple math- if you have 200 kids to choose from then you have a greater chance of finding natural born athletes.
2. Competition. This goes back to volume, supply and demand. More kids, more competition, more drive to get better and be in the top of a very large pile.
3. Fundamentals as priority focus above and beyond all else and through any means that get the kids excited to work on them. (There’s no place like a hot bed to see the most amazing stick tricks!)
Wait a minute- how are they getting the volume when our town is struggling to field a team with kids remotely in the same age group? What’s the secret?! Let’s take a look at our marketing…
I remember moving to Minnesota and wondering- in a state just getting lacrosse started, how Eden Prairie was churning out division 1 athletes consistently. The answer was found in their youth program. The activities were fun, geared towards what little kids like to do, and filled with a great mix of enthusiastic coaches and young enthusiastic high school players and the little girls ate up every second. People would drive an hour to attend their camps and clinics. Lacrosse became the go to sport for little girls in their area and the volume built them a deep bench of talent.
Milton high school, another hot bed but this time in Atlanta, has made the same approach to building a feeder with easy to recognize success. They built a youth program that made lacrosse easily the most fun option for young girls and grew to outstanding numbers. Their program is filled with fun, learning, and captures exactly what girls are looking for in an athletic, social, and competitive setting. They focus on growing self esteem with tons of high fives and encouraging knowledgable staff.
Are we learning from these programs approach to growth? Are we looking to provide what kids are looking for in their athletic experience or are we forcing our own ideals of what it should look like at them and then shaking our head at the low numbers? Kids have a lot of choices these days in activities, how can we market our sport to offer what families want? For some reason we think more tournaments, more travel, more tough love, more playing up or more wins are the answer.
Take a look at the top reasons people sign up for sports to see if your program has set these as priorities or side notes..
2. Make friends
3. Self-esteem and confidence building
4. Physical /athletic development
5. Learning skills of sport
How does your program rank on the the marketability scale? If little kids walked by your practice and games – will they beg mom and dad to sign them up or wrinkle their nose and say no thanks. If your players had a bring a friend night at practice and you ran your regular plan, how many of them would return as players the next season? How visible is the fun your program provides, how committed is it to providing a good EXPERIENCE for kids and families before all else. Or as my kids would say- a good experience for all is bae…
Ok Laxers, Let’s get growing! 😍