Please save me from another sideline conversation about why the girls’ game is not dumb.
I have this conversation a lot, but today as I had it yet again at my son’s tournament, it hit me even harder as I realized, “HOUSTON we have a problem!”
The girls game is being introduced incorrectly, and the stigma about girls lacrosse being boring is becoming more fact than fiction at the younger levels. Its even becoming true at the older levels in newer areas. We are trying to teach it with reverse engineering. Put them out on the big field, figure it out as we go. Unfortunately that means, to keep everyone safe there are going to be more than a few whistles and then time explaining how to set up every penalty. Anyone call for nap time?
It’s a little like Tball, painful to watch and makes you pray for rain so you can get out of there.
How do we fix this?? Because we’ve just got too, or girls will miss seeing what this came can actually be when played in it’s full glory. What it is. Please hear me, I woudln’t have spent my entire life devoted and in love with a game that’s boring, pointless or no fun. Im too selfish for that. I personally need to be having fun at all times with the adrenaline rushing and the excitment growing! So uhh, why are so many people literally pained to watch it? Becuase watching people learn how to play it is not the most fun thing in the world for people new to the sport.
Lets outline the issues first, because admitting we have a problem is step one (or something like that) AND because when I did that, I was very excited to realize the solution is lowkey right there before us already!
- Game has too many whistles. Some kids barely even break a sweat.
- Fouls take so long to set up that people leave to get more drinks to keep them awake.
- The field is huge, kids can’t connect passes and its way to long to keep running it back and forth.
- Defense can’t get back fast enough (I hear this daily) so defenders are being “planted” in a box or straight line in the critical scoring area. Then they don’t know how to pick up and mark a player so guess what we get! 1. Shooting space. 2. 3 Seconds 3. Dangerous shot. And guess what happens next? You guessed it. Another Whistle! I can attest to the fact that this happens in every state I’ve been in and that’s a lot.
- Offensive concepts take time, newer players who are dealing with issue number 3 above in defense are now trying to navigate how to throw, move and function in this scenario, which I assure you is not what lacrosse is supposed to look like when players understand the game.
- Goalies are getting pelted by 8 meter shots because that’s about all there is with all these whistles, which we NEED to keep them safe but dang it makes the game painful doesn’t it???
I watched a U14 girls game today that was going on behind my son’s game. I’ll be honest, they had lacrosse sticks and goals but other than that it sure didn’t look like lacrosse to me! People new to the sport think THIS is the game, no wonder they don’t like it!
AHA! Did you know there is a solution to this already? If we would only listen, spread the word, start DOING IT, stop FIGHTING CHANGE!! Yes, there’s a lot of all caps today, but its warranted because im tired of defending this sport but also knowing they are partly right. And you know how much I hate being wrong.
So here it is.
LADM. (Lacrosse Athlete Development Model)
(Wait, don’t stop reading, this is serious!)
Small sided games made up of 4v4 through 7v7. Small fields. Lots of running, passing, shooting. Less rules to keep track of. Less spaces to get caught up in for 3 seconds. Less stopping. More ball touches. More learning about movement, cutting, angles. More involvement. And get this, MORE FUN (and by that I mean fun for you and your player)
“Well, my kid wants to play “real lacrosse” like the big kids on a real field.” This is the only argument I’ve heard against these small sided games, but it almost always comes from someone who hasn’t experienced what small sided games really look like.
We can’t continue to put kids who have never seen the lines on the field and are holding their brand new stick for the first time out on a full field and just say GO. Not if we want them to stay in this game. There are a lot of rules in the women’s game, they make the strategy really fun once you get to that point. But we can’t throw those at kids learning to play. First things first. Small sided game, learn to move with the ball. Crawl, walk, run.
Sure we can continue to throw them to the fire and if they are tenacious they just might figure it out and do well. But what about those that don’t? What if we could teach them the sport and let them experience it in a way that makes them ready to play on a full field. What if we could do it BETTER. What if I could have a conversation that sounded a little more like: “my daughter loves the fast pace of lacrosse, she quit softball right away!” Sorry softball, just kidding, you can’ totally play both 🙂
If a player can move the ball, understands pass and cut, spacing, shooting, clearing with pressure, marking a player closely; wouldn’t that make them more prepared to do it on a larger scale?
This concept isn’t new, it’s been used by incredibly successful coaches for decades, and it’s being used in sports of all kinds. Most notoriously, hockey in Minnesota, to turn out some of the best players in the country. As a lacrosse player who grew up in the hotbed of Severna Park, we played 3v3 inside the Annapolis high school gym every single winter with a taped raquetball to get ready for the season. It was one of the best things I ever did for my game.
It’s in our hands, as parents and coaches to decide that we will do the right thing for our sports development, growth, and potential. If I’m having this many conversations about girls lacrosse being so slow their kids want to go play another sport afterwards because they were bored, then we are doing something very very wrong! The last game I hopped into I needed a week to recover. Ok that could have been old age… but still. Lacrosse is hard, it’s fast paced and it’s fun. Lets make sure kids being introduced to it see it for what it is and not for what it isn’t. Their time to hit the field will come, lets set them up for success FIRST PLEASE!
So what are you waiting for? Grab 3 friends and go find a 4v4 game and remember how much this game is the thrill you’ve been looking for!