The worst thing a coach has to do, in my opinion, is lacrosse tryouts. For the entire off-season you worked with all kinds of kids at a range of skill levels for this moment. You built relationships and invested a lot of time outside the normal season. But a number of kids that gave you their best are going to have to be let go. You feel torn because they gave a lot to you in the off-season, but it just isn’t going to work out. Maybe they knew that long before and hoped being a mainstay of the off-season workouts would give them a pass. But for the betterment of the team, it’s time to part ways. And you do this knowing there isn’t another option for them. There isn’t a great rec league like basketball and soccer. I always hoped and asked them to stick with it and prove me wrong. But whatever they go on to, I always wished them the best.
Evaluation – Person, Player, Athlete
But let’s get past the coaches internal conflict. How do you go about actually selecting the best players for the team. My approach has always been three faceted. Person, Player, Athlete. In that order. If you have two of the three, you would usually grade well. If you had one of the three, you would certainly be on the bubble. And the rare specimen that had all three, everyone knew who they were.
How do we grade the person? I believe this is a harder one to grade, but the most important to have. I want my team to be full of quality character individuals. These individuals represent more than themselves. They represent their families, each other, the school, and you the coach. I love the visualization of “if you don’t want your mom to see it on the front page of the newspaper, don’t do it”.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need squeaky clean players, I need players with the potential to learn from mistakes. I love lacrosse and sports in general as a sandbox to make mistakes. Learn little lessons here so you don’t need the rougher lessons later in life. I want players they are there for something greater than themselves. They need to realize they are an important link in a chain, cog in a wheel, whatever analogy you want. If they are unwilling to commit to the team, then why should the team be willing to commit to them.
Everyone says they want a coachable player, but I don’t know if we spend enough time with players defining that. To take the paragraph above here’s my abbreviated definition, a player willing to make mistakes and learn from them while executing their role as part of the team to the best of their ability and at the end of the day the sum of their actions are consistent with the identity of the organization.