Coaches Blog: Strategies of the Pro Level

A lot of people are probably wondering what the top players and coaches do to prepare for professional lacrosse games.  The truth is that a good chunk of the “base” preparation is done well before players and coaches reach the pro level.  Almost all professional lacrosse players have superior levels of talent and skill relative to their positions.  Aside from excellent skills and abilities, having a high level of understanding of how an individual player fits into the team offense/defense/special teams is also a relatively common trait among professionals and professional coaches.

If you look at all levels of pro lacrosse, from the MLL, NLL, CLAX, former NALL, LXMPRO, MSL etc… there is a large pool of “professional-capable” players.  Guys who are extremely athletic, have awesome stick skills and are great team players.  There is also a group of “on-field, pseudo-players coaches” (i.e. Casey Powell, John Tavares, Colin Doyle, etc…)  Guys who can direct traffic and who can help reinforce and develop a coaches game plan/strategy.  With such a pool of talent, the key is building team chemistry and bond with your teammates both on and off the field.

Most professional lacrosse teams practice 1 day a week, and if possible, 1 practice and 1 walk-through prior to the game.  With so many players flying in, being in and out of the line-up, etc… these practices and preseason training camps are great for building team chemistry, scouting the opposition and working on a game plan based on the scouting report.  Aside from practicing 1 day a week, a lot of teams will utilize email and video services to communicate with their players.  This helps players visualize their role and the team’s strategies for a particular match-up.

Coaches, GMs and team staff can be the “glue” that holds everything together.  I believe the most successful organizations at the pro level utilize every resource they have available, while keeping in mind all of the limitations that come with not being able to be in the same city, state or even country as their players.  These organizations establish a good “who we are” or “essence” to their team that helps unite their coaching staff, players, organization and community.  They also have highly talented event staff that makes for a great fan experience, both at the games and in the community.

When it comes to coaching in games, the most critical element is being able to adjust to what may not be working or what a particular player is doing to your team (i.e. winning every face-off, scoring at will, etc…).  Having the trust of your team ensures that the adjustments you are making will be executed and will pay off is a big key.  When a team is cohesive and has a great feel for “who we are,” these adjustments and game plans can be made with a higher success rate.
To sum it up, I feel the most critical elements at the pro level are cohesiveness, skill, communication and confidence.  A great coach and organization will have their eyes set on tying it all together.  It also helps to have a great and thorough understanding of higher level X’s and O’s.

Watch a pro game and see which teams seem to get along, which teams and coaches communicate well and you can almost be certain that they will be successful.

For more on lacrosse, stay tuned to In Lacrosse We Trust, and as always, please follow me on twitter @lisislaxn.  
Posted in NLL