5 Crucial Tips for New Lacrosse Coaches
You took the opportunity to get into coaching lacrosse! You are excited, you are enthusiastic, you are ready for the challenge. But where should new lacrosse coaches start?
The goals you set are high, and the expectations to be great each day like your old coach used to say keeps creeping into the back of your mind. What offense are we going to run? What is the clear going to look like? Do we 10-man ride? Do we play, dare I say it…zone defense? My answer to these questions is to pause, take a deep breath, and evaluate the level you are coaching, the skill set, and the competitiveness of the league. Here are five tips to help the first-time lacrosse coach get on track!
5 Crucial Tips for New Lacrosse Coaches
Learn the Game’s History
The late Chief Irving Powless Jr brings up an important point that resonates with the efforts of all Indigenous people when trying to educate others. “You know who we are, you know our name but you don’t know about us.” #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth
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— Turtle Island Lacrosse (@turtleislandlax) November 24, 2020
Understand the game and where it comes from. It’s an Indigenous game that was given to us by the Creator. It is a medicine game that has been played across the Haudenosaunee for centuries, if not longer.
The game means more than just the score. Do your homework first. It is truly a blessing to coach lacrosse.
Stickwork Is Essential
Before you start to implement your fancy man-up play or motion offense, start with the essentials: passing, catching, shooting, and GBs. Work drills that maximize touches and keep the players moving. Three-man GBs,four-man two ball, 4v3 and/or 5v4 keep away are just some, to name a few.
Take time to teach defense!
Stick out, approaches, smart checks, when and where to throw them, and proper rotations. You can teach defense in every drill you do. Emphasize midfielders also playing defense and getting up and down the field. Work on your defenders’ abilities to handle GBs in pressure and get the ball up the field. Also, teach them to shoot! It will make them more confident, they will have better sticks, and you’ll be a happier lacrosse coach.
Goalies & Faceoffs
At the youth level, every player should try goalie or faceoff for a practice. I didn’t start playing goalie full time until I was 14 but had opportunities at practice growing up. You never know who the best faceoff or goalie is going to be until everyone gives it a go at some point. Once you have established these positions, take 15 to 20 minutes each lacrosse practice to coach them one-on-one. Trust me, it will make a difference.
RMU Tabs Craig McDonald Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach
Moon Township, Pa. – RMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Chris King ’94 announced Monday that Craig McDonald has been named men’s lacrosse head coach.
“Today is an exciting day for RMU Athletics and the men’s lacrosse program,” King said. “Selecting Craig McDonald as our new head coach sets the course for a new era of success in all phases of our program. He’s been part of championship-level lacrosse at UMass, and he will bring that kind of competitiveness to RMU lacrosse.
“When we started this search, we were looking for a coach that was energized by the challenge of competing for and winning ASUN and NCAA Tournament championships and also understood the importance of building upon the history of the RMU men’s lacrosse program,” King said. “After speaking with several of the top head coaches in college lacrosse, it became clear that Coach McDonald has a strong ability to recruit, lead, inspire, communicate and develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships with student-athletes. His philosophies on the student-athlete experience align with the vision, core values, purpose and culture of our department and the men’s lacrosse program. We are thrilled to welcome Craig, his wife, Maggie, and son, Conor, to the RMU family.”
McDonald comes to RMU after spending the last seven years at UMass, where he started as an assistant coach before being promoted to Associate Head Coach in 2018. While with the Minutemen, McDonald served as both defensive coordinator, working with the goaltenders while assisting with the faceoff unit, and recruiting coordinator.
During his time at UMass, the Minutemen appeared in three Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship games, winning the 2018 CAA tournament crown and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. In 2019, UMass advanced to the CAA Tournament semifinals behind a defense tutored by McDonald that ranked third in the country in scoring defense. Over the last four seasons with McDonald on the coaching staff, the Minutemen compiled an overall record of 31-18 (.633).
“My family and I are very humbled and thankful for the opportunity to join the Robert Morris University family,” McDonald said. “I would like to thank Vice President and Director of Athletics Chris King for this great opportunity and his belief and confidence in me to lead the RMU men’s lacrosse program forward as we move into the ASUN Conference. I’m excited to get started and look forward to building on the foundation and tradition that was established by Bear Davis and Andrew McMinn, as well as all the student-athletes that have come through this great program. I’m extremely honored with this great opportunity and can’t wait to meet with the current players and alumni and get to work.”
During a 2020 campaign that was shortened due to COVID-19, UMass ranked in the top 20 nationally and finished with a 5-2 (.714) mark behind a defense led by McDonald that allowed just 9.60 goals per game in its five victories. The Minutemen posted a landmark win during the year, a 13-10 triumph over No. 1 Yale (2/29), the program’s first victory over a top-ranked team in the country. Earlier that season UMass also went on the road and knocked off No. 12 Ohio State (2/15), 9-7.
In 2019, McDonald guided a UMass defense that allowed just 8.87 goals per game, which ranked third in NCAA Division I. That defense was anchored by defenseman Isaac Paparo and goalie Sean Sconone, both which were named Inside Lacrosse First Team All-Americans as the Minutemen compiled an overall record of 10-5 (.667) and claimed the 2019 CAA regular-season championship. Sconone was tabbed the 2019 CAA Defensive Player of the Year, while Paparo garnered United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Scholar All-America accolades.
In 2018, UMass earned a 12-8 victory over Towson (5/5) to claim the CAA Tournament crown and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. McDonald helped the Minutemen record an overall record of 12-5 (.706) in 2018, with Papano being selected the CAA Player of the Year, while attack Chris Connolly garnered CAA Rookie of the Year honors. Overall during his tenure at UMass, McDonald helped tutor a Tewaaraton Award nominee, two Academic All-Americans, eight All-Americans and 35 All-CAA honorees.
“Searching for a head coach can be a long and difficult process, but we were able to accomplish our goals in three weeks,” King said. “That would not have been possible without the tireless efforts, counsel and leadership of our lacrosse sport administrator Marty Galosi, deputy athletic director Kim Graham and head women’s lacrosse coach Katrina Silva during this national search. I would also like to give a shout out to our men’s lacrosse student-athletes and their role during campus interviews. Their involvement, dedication and commitment to the process was extremely impressive, and their transparent and honest feedback was greatly appreciated and is reflected directly in today’s hire of Coach McDonald.”
Prior to UMass, McDonald was an assistant coach at Rutgers, serving as defensive coordinator, goalie coach and recruiting coordinator from 2011-14. McDonald also was an assistant coach at Siena (2010-11) and began his collegiate coaching career at Union College (2008-10).
A 2008 graduate of the University at Albany with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with a minor in education, McDonald was a four-year letterwinner with the Great Danes on defense. He helped guide Albany to the NCAA Tournament in both 2005 and 2007 and was a three-time All-America East honoree, garnering second team accolades in 2006 and first team plaudits in 2007 and 2008.
McDonald, a native of Geneva, N.Y., and his wife, Maggie, have one son, Conor.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT CRAIG McDONALD
Brian Brecht, Rutgers Head Coach
“I am very excited and happy for Coach McDonald today. Great hire! I had the pleasure of working with Coach McDonald at both Siena and here at Rutgers, and he will be a great leader for the Robert Morris program and student-athletes in the locker room. With his experience both on the field and with recruiting, he will bring a great deal of detail, intensity and passion to the players and program. All the best wishes for him and his family.”
Greg Cannella, UMass Head Coach
“We all here at UMass lacrosse are happy for Mac. Robert Morris is getting a great coach and a better person. Craig will lead the team with integrity, loyalty and a tremendous amount of energy. We appreciate all of what Craig has done for us here. We wish him the best!”
Scott Marr, Albany Head Coach
“I met Craig as a high school junior and our connection was immediate. As he’s made his way through life three things will always hold true when referring to Craig: Driven, intense competitor and a man of high character. RMU is very fortunate to have a man like Craig lead their program. Congrats to both RMU and the entire McDonald family.”
Isaac Paparo, UMass Student-Athlete (2016-19), Former PLL Whipsnakes
“It comes as no surprise that Craig McDonald will be RMU’s next head coach. He is exactly the man you want leading your program. His work ethic is unparalleled and his knowledge of the game is profound. More importantly, he is a man of authentic character and one you look up to and strive to emulate. I can’t thank Craig enough for the impact he’s had on my life over the past six years.”
Sean Sconone, UMass Student-Athlete (2016-19), PLL Chrome LC
“Coach Mac is one of the best coaches in the country. I was very fortunate enough to have him coach the defense for my four years at UMass. As a goalie, watching him coach and being able to learn from him was an incredible experience. His knowledge of the game is right up there with the best coaches in the world. His energy and passion for the game of lacrosse doesn’t compare to anybody else. Robert Morris got a great one in Coach Mac!”
Jackson Suboch, UMass Student-Athlete (2017-21), NLL Philadelphia Wings
“Coach Mac is one of the realest, honorable and authentic individuals I have ever met in my life. He sets a tremendous example for kids playing under him on how to develop into true men as well as great leaders. I hold him in only the highest regards. I credit everything I have become to coaches like Mac. If one thing is certain it is that Coach Mac will hold you accountable. It doesn’t matter if you’ve played zero games or 50. He’s a perfect blend of old school, no nonsense ‘tough but fair’ and ‘modern with the times’ in terms of his coaching style. Robert Morris just got a tremendous new look for the program with a guy that has a plethora of experience under his belt. I can’t wait to see what Mac does for Bobby Mo!”
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90,000 “I often practice Lacrosse in training”: News: Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)
Players and coaches shared their impressions of the results of the matches of the day.
Parimatch Sochi Hockey Open
Sochi – Russian Olympic team U20 – 0: 6
Rodion Amirov, forward of the Russian Olympic team :
– In training, I often practice lacrosse, I’m glad that everything worked out today. What do we call it? Sometimes “Svechnikov’s goal”, I say “lacrosse”, the guys after the game said: “Amirov’s goal”.
Igor Larionov, head coach of the Russian Olympic team:
– The main task of our team is not to look at who and when we play, but to look at how we play.I immediately told the guys about it. The question is not about the opponent, but about us. It is necessary to tune in the same way for the Sochi youth team, and for the national teams of Sweden and Canada. Tune in to show your hockey. We want the guys to surprise us, sometimes with some brave moves, such as Rodion Amirov did today.
If we talk about the organization of the tournament, everything is just top class. I am very pleased with the conditions that have been created for us here. We are isolated from everyone, we live at the base.Food, halls, stadium, sea – everything is gorgeous. The traffic was a bit disappointing today. We got to the stadium for an hour and a half. When we were traveling, they talked about the fact that we might become the first team in the world to get to the match on a yacht. It seems to me that it will be faster this way.
Leonid Beresnev, head coach of MHC Sochi:
– For young guys, such matches are an invaluable help in career development. Often in training, you try to convey to the guys the idea that you need to work at different speeds, think faster, giving the gear – this often goes on deaf ears.And in games like today, all the flaws come out. Today we tuned in and tried. There were, of course, outsiders on the ice. Although, initially they set a goal that there were no outsiders. How did you know that we are participating in the tournament? During training. I’ll tell you a secret – we trained in vests, with weights, with loads. So, they took off their vests and went to the airport.
SKA (St. Petersburg) – Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) – 6: 0
Andrey Skabelka, head coach of Lokomotiv:
– Our game didn’t work out after long training camps.Probably, only in the first and second periods there were good chances. But in general SKA played faster, it was difficult for us to keep up with the opponent. We thought a lot about what to do. Now we are introducing new moments, it is far from automatism, hence the result.
Andrey Kozyrev, SKA coach:
– The first game after a long break. We did a great job in Novogorsk, it was interesting how the guys would get into the rhythm of the game, how they would feel. We perfectly understand that the next game will turn out differently, we are already preparing for it.There were no deletions? This is due to good physical fitness. The players were in time, were mobile, were not inferior in martial arts, respectively, did not foul.
Emil Galimov, SKA forward:
– It was hard after such a long preseason. We were given a significant load at the training camp, so it’s good that we managed to win convincingly. Everyone wanted to show themselves in the same way, everyone missed hockey. If we talk about our interaction in the flight, we only skate for three days in this combination.Yes, they acted well, but there is no euphoria about this.