Red Flags in Club Lacrosse

In the club lacrosse world, there are rumors surrounding each and every club lacrosse organization. I’m sure we’ve all heard the, “I heard so-and-so walks around handing out business cards at 4th grade games” or “I heard so-and-so has 4 teams in each age group!” Whether these rumors surrounding these club teams are true or not, it’s important to rely on what you see for yourself. Understand that there are red flags right in front of you each time you watch a game. When choosing a club lacrosse program, find one where these red flags do NOT exist. Over the years, after attending and coaching in dozens of club lacrosse tournaments, I’ve noticed and noted some of these red flags. Today, I’d like to share them with you.

Red Flag1. Roster Size – if a team has more than 14 kids on the sidelines during a game, you should be very weary. It can be hard enough rotating 20-23 player’s in a 40 to 50 minute running time game. To think a child can get ample playing time with 25 plus players on a roster is unrealistic.

2. Combining Teams – most programs have more than 1 team in each age group. While this can be a positive, the biggest one being it provides more opportunities to play, it can also serve as a red flag. Some clubs will pull player’s from their top teams and move them into rosters of the less talented teams. Clubs do this to make their less talented teams more competitive when participating in tournaments and scrimmages. This is a major red flag considering these top tier players that get bumped down are now taking playing time away from player’s on the less talented teams. In reality, it shouldn’t matter whether a less talented team is competitive or not. All that should matter is families on those teams are getting their money’s worth, that their children get ample game-time, that their children are developing, getting quality coaching, and having fun.

3. Coaching – while there are some tremendous youth coaches working in club lacrosse programs across the nation, there are certainly some coaches to look out for as well. In order to detect the red flags as it relates to youth coaches, ask yourself: Are the coaches negative and constantly screaming? Do the coaches say anything at all? Do the coaches call out player’s mistakes and not provide ways to correct them? Do they talk down to the player’s? Do they get overly excited when their team scores a goal? Do they talk back to the officials and allow for their player’s to do the same? Is the coaches a game plan to give the ball to the best player? Is winning a game the only thing that coach cares about?

Or

Are the coaches fun, positive, and enthusiastic? Do the coaches teach how to play with a competitive edge, but at the same time with class and respect for the game? Do the coaches get excited about the smaller un-heroic type plays? Do the coaches talk to their player’s with encouraging, motivating, and constructive words? Do the coaches set realistic expectations for each individual on the team? Are the coaches more concerned with their team’s ability to play the right way, as opposed to winning the game?

4. Playing Time – Unfortunately, when a program’s primary focus is on winning, some children on the roster play more than others. Seeing a Program that constantly plays their best athletes is another major red flag. As a parent, you invest too much time and money to not see your child play as much as the next child on the roster. If your the type of family that attends all the practices, supports the team, has a child that consistently works hard, than your child deserves the right to play as much as the most talented players on the team.

5. Parents – observing parents during a club lacrosse game can tell you a lot about the culture of that specific club. Similar to coaches, parents are a reflection of the club their son or daughter plays for. It’s a red flag when you see parents who are only yelling when their child touches the ball, when parents talk negatively about other players on their own team, when parents are cursing or raising their voice towards players or officials during a game, or if parents start talking negatively towards another parent.

Don’t get caught up with the rumors people say or the comments from blogs that people decide to share, focus on what you see for yourself. If you open your eyes and think for yourself, you’ll start walking towards a Program that’s in it for the right reasons.

 

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