Observations of Summer Field Lacrosse Tournaments in 2015
I had the opportunity to see some great lacrosse this summer. Clearly many of the players I watched are very well coached. These players rarely forced the game & the off ball movement was great. When it was time to shoot it was frequently fast & accurate. The defense was aggressive but patient & smart. Many were among the best players in high school lacrosse from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, & Florida. The summer tournaments can be a lot of fun if you’re fan of good lacrosse.
Youth Position Specialization vs. Developing Athleticism
But at the various tournaments I could not help but notice what I’ve been reading about for the last few years. In U-13 & U-11 & U-9 games that I watched the kids were just not getting any better while playing. Midfielders were running their butts off & in good games getting 3-5 shots max each. Little defensemen, with sticks taller than their heads, would stand around for 2 minutes or more at a time. When the ball did come down they were quick to lunge & hack & not depend a whole lot on their feet or play the proper angles. The little attackmen would wait for the ball to come to their end of the field – sometimes for two or three minutes – sometimes longer. Multiply this by three games a day & midfielders we’re getting around 10 -15 good shots a day. Attackmen or defenseman that played the whole game would stand in place for 10 or 12 minutes a game.
You can always tell by the body language who the goalie is that just doesn’t want to play that position at all. & the 9-year old face off specialist just makes me laugh out loud. Generally speaking, when they did get the ball, the skills & the decision-making instincts were not so good. Lastly, the field is huge & they are small. They labor through the games.
An Opportunity to Not “Pay the Price”– SPEED Lacrosse ™
We all know these travel tournaments are also getting dangerously expensive. There is an unruly amount of negativity coming from adult coaches & spectators as well. A March 2015 blog post by US Lacrosse took this issue on very well. To be fair, many adults are positive, but unfortunately they don’t stand out among the chaos. The price & vibe trends are really at the expense of the growth the game. In May of 2015 a New York Times article highlighted the decrease in attendance at the NCAA National Championships.
Many families have exhausted their annual spend on lacrosse travel, & anxiety tolerance, by the time the championships come. A friend of mine in Orlando, FL cited an example of having 2 young girls in an “elite” travel program. Their annual budget for travel lacrosse for the girls was $17,000.00 dollars. Excuse me? It just makes no sense.
Hall of Famer, Jim Berkman (Salisbury) Said It Best
I recently read a great article in the Salisbury Independent on coach Jim Berkman. Give it a look here. Jim Berkman is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA men’s lacrosse history as he begins his 28th season at the helm of 10-time NCAA Division III National Champion Salisbury University. He’s also in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Coach Berkman said that he’s frequently asked by players what they could do to get better. His response was fantastic. “Well, stop playing in so many tournaments”, said Coach Berkman. To paraphrase, take that time you’re putting into field tournaments & go to the practice field with a friend & put that time into a bucket of balls. All of a sudden those 10 shots become 100 & on & on. It just makes too much sense.
An Ideal Solution – SPEED Lacrosse
Kids like the big field travel tournaments. They like spending time with friends, staying in hotels, & the travel. I’m not sure many parents love it quite as much. Either way, Coach Berkman’s observations are coincidentally what Casey Powell’s SPEED Lacrosse is all about.
Take less time & money to accomplish a whole lot more when it comes to the fundamental skills of lacrosse. SPEED is easy to play anywhere & leagues are popping up at a great pace. We are bringing back the theme of young athletes going to a central spot in the community to practice their sport. No 7:00AM games on Sundays. No driving hours to get a game in. It’s affordable. SPEED is a value.
The SPEED Lacrosse 1/2X10 ™ Philosophy
The 1/2X10™ philosophy & the design of a SPEED match are specifically intended to reduce the time investment & increase the rate of improvement. It is incredibly fun by default.
In the fall of this year we will continue to gather data on the SPEED matches. We’ll assign observers on the sidelines to an individual player. They won’t keep track of their goals or their assists. They will keep track of how many times they touch the ball – ground balls, catching passes, making passes, shooting shots. They’ll also keep track of their playing time. With five person teams in 3 versus 3 you are out there a lot. And, like basketball, when you are in the game you are “in the game”. You are consequently taking Coach Berkman’s advice by targeting your skills but you are also adding the frequent decision making of quality gameplay. It’s what Casey Powell played as a kid & he still plays it. It just works. Check out Casey’s track record.
No doubt that there will always be a huge role for individual or small group practice. Maybe you are on the wall. Maybe a small group of friends head to the practice field. It is what great players do. Field tournaments will always be popular for obvious reasons. Many kids want to play college ball & the field is ultimately where the great players showcase the fruits of their hard work.
That being said, SPEED Lacrosse compliments a great player’s work ethic very well.
SPEED 1/2X10™ for the Blue Chip Recruit or the former NCAA All American?
There’s absolutely no reason the same concept doesn’t apply to the advanced player. A SPEED match wisely compliments the time that you would put into a full bucket of balls. All of the sudden you’re stacking gameplay decision making on top of working on stick skills & footwork.
The rules & format of SPEED Lacrosse make for an incredible experience. You have to play it to believe it. It’s one of those games you want to play all day.
I highly encourage you to try a SPEED event in your area as soon as possible. Keep a close eye on the expression on your own or your kid’s face. That smile is a reflection of productivity & engagement. While SPEED doesn’t guarantee every player athletic success it does guarantee every player the opportunity to improve & improve quickly. Here are some observations about the 1/2X10™ philosophy:
- Think being in the game for nearly every minute & involved in nearly every play
- SPEED requires less field space as three or four “courts” can be comfortably placed on one traditional field
- SPEED court set up is light, mobile, & can be played on any surface
- SPEED makes pick up gameplay incredibly easy-requires less space, players, & protective equipment
- Field & box goalies that play SPEED come to better understand the offensive of mindset
- All players come to understand the mindset of a goalie & defender
- All players learn to play defense with their feet first & rely on fundamental stick checks & slides
- No developing player or team is limited in their possession of the ball by a specialized face-off player
- The match constantly presents uneven or broken situations for players & spectators
- There is a tremendous opportunity to develop stick skills, fitness, & communication/field IQ
- SPEED can be played co-ed & is equally for boys or girls
- The terms “select” & “elite” not be seen or heard in SPEED Lacrosse
We at Team SPEED look forward to seeing you on the court soon!