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Are Recruiting Combines The Next Big Thing In Lacrosse?

6 - Published October 17, 2011 by in Training

Editor’s Note: Barry Marenberg wrote an unreal post on Elite Travel Club Team Tryouts for LAS a couple weeks ago, and he shed a ton of light on how these things work, and where expectations should be placed.  Now he’s tackling the issue of lacrosse player combines and to do so, he checked in with the guys from Smash Mouth Sports Network.  They have a combine coming up this weekend on Long Island.  Will combines be a part of the recruiting process moving forward?

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mark_ingram_nfl combine 40 dash

The NFL combine.

Any sports fan with a cable TV sports package has undoubtedly come upon one or more of the NFL or NBA combines that take place in advance of the sports’ professional draft.  I, myself, have spent more time than I care to admit watching college football players go through their 40 yard dashes, vertical jumps and shuttle runs at the NFL combine, and college basketball players shoot endless 3 point shots and run through pick-and-roll drills at the NBA combine.

For the athletes participating in these NFL and NBA combines, their purposes are two-fold. One to perform well and demonstrate their skills for pro scouts in the hopes of elevating their chances as a draft pick (and being awarded a mega-bucks contract), and two, to compare themselves against their peers.

For high school lacrosse players intent on playing on the collegiate level, obtaining a detailed assessment of their individual skills and an indication of how they measure up to their peers would provide invaluable information not only to the athlete himself but also to collegiate coaches. Putting aside the most important factor of getting into a school of choice, academics, the next thing these lacrosse players need to do is elevate their game.

The lacrosse players need to know that a lot of college coaches don’t just want players, they want athletes. A lacrosse combine for high school lax players thus seems like a no-brainer.  That is now a reality.  On October 23, 2011, Smash Mouth Sports Network will be bringing Next Testing to Long Island. Next Testing is a scientifically-based, standardized, elite testing service designed to evaluate sports specific skills and athletic traits. Based on the most current science and sports research, Next Testing brings the latest equipment and protocols to bear in assessing and analyzing athletic performance potential.

I spent some time communicating with Tim Matthews of Smash Mouth Sports Network, who informed me that there are more than 250,000 men and women playing High School lacrosse and only about 30,000 will actually go on to play lacrosse in college (this number includes club teams!). A significant number of these lacrosse players will have a hard time just getting into the college of their choice. Tim further explained that athletic excellence is not just an ideal or hazy mix of buzzwords like “heart”, “speed” and “grit”. It’s real, tangible, and scientifically measurable. It’s a number.

And it’s not just the players that need convincing about their ability – it’s the coaches who see them as just one in a thousand players vying for their attention. The Next Testing™ index provides this concrete information. Think of this as the “Moneyball” of lacrosse. Most sports fans are familiar with the rigorous statistical analyses, metrics and empirical gauges utilized by Billy Beane in putting together his Oakland As teams in past years. Hard performance data, levels the playing field and provides the lacrosse player with concrete data as to strengths and weaknesses. The data affords the lacrosse player with the opportunity to know exactly what he or she needs to improve in order to move up the rankings.

The Next Testing™ lacrosse combine will offer 10 testing station that measure lacrosse speed, agility and reaction skills with cutting edge testing equipment (that means: highly precise laser gates and sensors with light activation units and automated timing systems).  The results from each station are then analyzed on a 60 data point scale for speed, agility and reaction time. The results are then input into the Next Testing software database that shows strengths and weaknesses. This provides a lacrosse player with the ability to know where they need to focus their work and where they already have the edge. The software also compares and ranks each participating athlete against peers.

Customized athlete reports with results and rankings will be emailed to each participating athlete after the Combine. The “Report Card” provides 60 date points in 3 categories: speed, agility and reaction time. As Next Testing™ grows and holds combines in more geographical areas, the lacrosse athlete will be able to compare himself against other athletes in the national database.

The October 23rd Combine will be held at Brookhaven’s Diamond in the Pines in Coram, NY. Registration and additional information can be found through Constant Contact here.

This event will provide a true test of a lacrosse player’s speed and agility and will help in reaching their maximum athletic potential. There will also be a fastest shot competition and a most accurate shot contest. Trophies and other prizes will be awarded and all participants will receive a t-shirt.  Tim Matthews further communicated that Smash Mouth has big plans to branch out from this event and offer the Next Testing at numerous other locations throughout the Northeast in the coming months.

Eventually, Smash Mouth hopes to offer its Combines from coast to coast so that the lax player in California, Oregon or Texas, for example, can see how he stacks up against players of his age in the traditional hotbeds like Baltimore or Long Island.

This event promises to be an awesome opportunity for those who will be in attendance on October 23rd. If you are in high school and are serious about playing lacrosse on the collegiate level you will want to strongly consider participating in this event or one of the soon-to-be dates in other areas in the Northeast. See how you stack up against your peers. It may be a rude awakening but at least you’ll have concrete information that allows you to take appropriate steps to focus on weaknesses and build on strengths.

Smash Mouth Sports Network (www.smashmouthsportsnetwork), it is an interactive community to help, inform and share important facts about the college recruiting process. Smash Mouth supplies important information, steps and everything else a student athlete, parent and coach can need. The student-athlete will have the ability search for schools of interest, find out requirements, as well as hear interviews with
college coaches to better prepare for the competitive and complicated world of NCAA recruiting. Smash Mouth plans to launch its main site at the beginning of 2012.

Main photo courtesy blogs.NFL

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