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Tryouts! (How to make my team)

It is the beginning of a new season - which feels completely bizarre considering that last season has just ended. As a coach, I am trying to compile my lessons learned from the previous year and immediately turn them into action as we get into a new season. With every season, there is some churn in our roster which gives us an opportunity to invite new players to join our team.

My goal for every season is to have my team firing on all cylinders by the end of April/May. This means I've got plenty of time to work and develop my players over the course of the fall, winter and early spring. While stick skills will help immediately in the fall, I would still probably give a hard working athlete with average stick skill the advantage over an average athlete with great stick skills and a questionable attitude. 

With all that said, here's what I'll be keeping an eye out for at tryouts:

The Good

Ground Balls - Ground balls are the single biggest indicator of a hard working kid. They require a ton of effort and are often a thankless statistic; not many people remember a ground ball that simply maintains our possession. However, a kid that works hard going after ground balls is going to be the same kid that goes home and works hard on getting better stick skills. He's going to be fearless. He's going to be a kid that I can count on.

Communication - Tryouts generally throw a lot of players that have never played together into a blender and can put out some sloppy lacrosse. However, those that are willing to speak up on the field can formulate a basic strategy that will give them success in a tryout setting.  Communicating on the field with players that you're unfamiliar with in itself is a good indicator of leadership while also giving me a sense of the player's lacrosse IQ.

Adjustments - Throughout the tryout, I will give small coaching notes to everyone; particularly in heavy repetition drills like stick work or one-on-one's. This will ensure that I've got more opportunities to see whether or not a player has made an adjustment on the fly. I certainly recognize that this could be an effort to fight a long-established habit, but it gives me some insight into how coachable the player will be over the course of the season.

The Bad

Body Language - Palms up after being on the receiving end of a bad pass and shrugged shoulders after a lazy play are immediately "cuttable" offenses at my tryouts. Lacrosse requires team players that play with passion and those two gestures say more than can be overcome with great athleticism and stick skill. 
I will reserve judgement for players that put their head down after a bad play. To me it is a sign of frustration, potentially in themselves, which could be channeled into more positive outcomes with encouragement.

White Collar Lacrosse - This trait suggests a player that's not willing to get dirty. They'll pass on 50/50 ground balls, they won't cut through the middle and will only find time-and-room shots. A kid that isn't willing to do the dirty jobs probably doesn't have much room for growth to become a complete player. Further, I have seen instances where White Collar players draw resentment from their teammates that creates a toxic atmosphere on the team.

Over the course of a year, I'll be happy to work with anyone with a good attitude and works hard. I invest a lot of time and effort into being the best lacrosse coach that I can be and tryouts give me an opportunity to find the kids that will return the favor!

What do you guys think? Anything else that you'll be keeping an eye for at tryouts?


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