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Club Directors Panel: How Many Players Do You Carry?

0 - Published June 4, 2014 by in High School

High school athletes could conceivably play in an event every day of the summer beginning in June. This means that there’s a good chance they’re tired by the time early July hits. In early July, temperatures increase. Clubs have to find the right balance between ensuring their boys get exposure and ensuring they aren’t exhausted by the second game of the day.

What’s the perfect amount of players per team?

Anthony Crimmins – Dallas Select and Texas United

When assembling a roster, we are trying to accomplish several things:

1. We need to have the appropriate amount of players to compete at a high level and execute our style of play.

2. We need to have enough “horses at the track” to try and make a championship run.

3. We need to bring enough players to where, if there is an injury or two, the integrity of our team and the trip is not compromised.

4. Obviously, exposure is important, but it is tough to really demonstrate a player’s abilities if they are completely exhausted. Also, exhaustion enhances the probability of injury. Therefore, we usually roll with the following number breakdowns:

5/6 Attack, 8/9 Mids, 1 FOGO, 5 Close Defense, 2 LSM, and 2 Goalies.

With 5/6 on attack, we can chase on rides and move with purpose on offense. However, if you bring 5 and 1 gets injured, you are left with 4, which makes it really tough. 8 mids allows for 2 lines of 4, while 9 mids allows for 3, even lines. However, if you bring 8 mids and one gets injured, you are down to 7. If you are trying to win at Gait Cup, a 9-game tourney, again, 7 mids makes it very tough. Last year at UNC we made a run all the way to the championship game. Of our 7 Long Sticks we only had 4 left standing in the final game, and had to bring one up from our younger squad. There is ALWAYS a method to the madness, and the importance of getting “enough horses to the track” cannot be underestimated!

Marty Kupprion – NXT

We feel strongly about creating a club environment where each and every player is getting value out of every practice and event. For us, 26 players is typically our magic number for club teams.

We created this club after realizing that all of the top players in the Philly area players were on one team, but hardly getting the fundamental coaching,  playing time and feedback from coaches necessary to really develop their game. With 26 players, we are deep enough at every position to sustain our roster through the summer despite injuries and conflicts, and we are also able to play everybody a lot.  Not only do we know each student-athlete well, but our coaches also know every parent and we are able to provide great continuity to those involved in our program. 

Kenny Broschart – Go Blue

As far as team size is concerned, it really depends on the event/time of year.  If we’re going to an event with a lot of games, over a longer period of time, then we’ll carry a few extra guys than we normally do. Sometimes adding an extra midline to a team in the summer heat will benefit a team over the course of a weekend as well.  In an event where it’s one day, we’ll typically carry a smaller roster.

18 guys is a small roster, 22 is a perfect number, 25 is on the higher end.  Any more than that, players don’t get enough play time (in turn, won’t get enough exposure) and any shorter of a roster, we run the boys into the ground (they end up looking bad).  We will also never bring more than 2 goalies per team, because it’s a nightmare trying to balance play time.

John Harvey – No Excuse

I think the perfect number for a summer team is around 21 players.  The best roster for me is set up with 2 goalies, 6 poles, 9 middies and 4 attackmen.   The more versatility you can have with your shorties, the better.  For example, a couple of those attackmen can run some middie and vice-versa.  At most of these tournaments, you could play 5-6 games and you are always struggling to have enough depth, without guys feeling they are not getting enough time, or getting in a rhythm.  I really do not like the mids to specialize too much in the summer and be able to run both ends of the field.  
The key is having enough subs early in the weekend so the guys do not cross that line where they are physically burned out too early.  We have done it with more or less guys, but low 20′s is about right.  You always have to count on injuries or heat to play a factor as well and be prepared for for those to take a toll on your team.  You never know which game a certain coach may be watching and you need to do everything you can to keep the best product on the field through out a weekend.

Rob Horn – Minnesota Elite

We typically carry 22-23 players per event.  We used to carry more in the past (25), but we soon realized that carrying that many was resulting in less playing time and exposure per player at each event.  Our teams don’t really have issues or conflicts with practices because we practice together as we’ve mentioned in the past.  The summer pitfalls that can occur, family vacations, work conflicts, and individual events often leave little impact on our practice due to this model.

We think that number of 22 (maybe 23 if your taking just a face off specialist), has been the perfect fit for us to make sure we have enough playing time per player.  Our roster tends to look like 5 attack, 2 goalies, 7 poles, and 8 midfielders.  Often we will add alternate players to the program to allow others the opportunity to practice and develop just like any other player, and they might even get the opportunity to attend an event or two depending on other players conflicts.

Its very important that you aren’t carrying a roster so large that playing time isn’t equal in summer club lacrosse (remember at the heart of it all, it is a pay to play format) – I’ve seen teams with 7 attackmen in the summer, and to me, I scratch my head every time.  Unless your attackmen are also playing midfield, how can you really justify that to any family in 50 minute running time games at summer events?  Parents and players should educate themselves on typical roster size for events and positions that each program may carry before they attend tryouts.  As a consumer, spending 2000-3000 dollars on summer lacrosse to be one of 7 attackmen, or one of  3 goalies is a decision that each family should really consider.

Catch up on previous Club Directors Panels:
Tournament Selection
Early Recruiting & Coaching Staff Alignment
What makes a club lacrosse program successful?
Club versus High School 
Managing Expectations
Hope for Late Bloomers?


Want to talk recruiting, club teams, tournaments or camps? Leave a comment in the comments section or tweet me at @4onetwolax or @AmRevolutionLax.

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