Editor’s Note: Welcome Brian Potter back to LAS! Brian is living in Europe and is heavily involved in the lacrosse scene there. He plays with and organizes the Deutschland Adler Lacrosse Club, has trained the German Military University’s players, and last week, he worked with the Spanish National Team hopefuls. What a life of Growing the Game!
This past week, Team Spain held a 7 day try-out/training camp in preparation for the World Lacrosse Championships that place in Denver, CO in 2014. I had the good fortune of leaving the German winter for a brief 8 day stay in Madrid, where I conducted the on-field training and classroom tactical sessions throughout the week.
The weather was beautiful, actually above average where the daytime temperatures exceeded 70⁰+ (or 20+ for you Canadians and Europeans). Players came from all over Spain, and one even came from the legendary Island of Ibiza. Others flew in from Germany, Italy and even as far away as the USA.
The camp was no walk in the park. For almost all it was the most demanding lacrosse week they had ever experienced and that showed very quickly. The first lesson that the players learned was that being in shape to play in their league and being in shape to play in a tournament that lasts 7+ days is apples and oranges.
In response to this we tried to build the foundation of our week around a situation similar to that which players would experience at the championships in Denver, at least in terms of the pounding their bodies would take. In addition, in the Spanish men’s league, they play 8v8 rather than 10v10 so this makes the transition even more difficult when learning to play in a system with an extra 2 players on the field.
A TYPICAL DAY AT THE CAMP
9:00-11:30 On Field Session #1
12:00- 2:00 On Field Session #2
2:00 – 3:30 Team Lunch
3:30- 5:30 On Field Session #3
6:00- 8:00pm Tactics/Classroom.
8:00-end Free Time
The tactical sessions included different motion offences (no plays, not a big fan), slide packages, a fast break, and a slow clear. We also spent a lot of time doing mental preparation, where we talked about how to excel in the sport both as individuals and as a team. We used a few different exercises, one I call the wheel of lacrosse and the other something I wrote based on John Wooden’s infamous Pyramid to success. The goal was to understand what being an athlete really entails and that as much of the game is played between the ears as it is between the lines.
It really was quite an eventful week in addition to all the lacrosse. On day 2 I got to visit the Mercado San Miguel, the famous indoor Market where you buy your food and then it is cooked on premises. Myself, along with a few players enjoyed fresh urchin, octopus, squid and oysters. After which we nibbled on some fabulous cheeses and washed that down with some Rioja. Next we hit up the sushi bar where we tried everything from salmon roe to butterfish topped with truffles and obviously that was washed down with some warmed Sake. Unfortunately the next day was not so great as we all experienced food poisoning. NOT FUN! (still not sure what caused it..oysters?).
There was lot of sport going on in addition to the lacrosse in Madrid that week. The Spanish National Handball team won the World Championships, Real Madrid played Barcelona, and Athletico Madrid played Seville in the Spanish Cup. Lastly, the Superbowl was on (as you all know) and we watched it from inside the most popular radio station in Madrid, it was quite an experience.
On the Friday night we got ambushed by a protest, but fortunately there was an exit a few meters in front of the mob, if not we could have been in trouble as they lit fires and threw rocks as they moved throughout the city. At that time It was unclear what they were protesting but since then I learned that the President was involved in some sort of bribery scandal along with many other high ranking members of the conservative party.
I also had the opportunity to train the women’s team in Madrid, with some players coming in from other cities in addition to Madrileñas. During that time I developed quite a crush on one of their players. Picture a young Penelope Cruz, but hotter, that plays lacrosse… How could you not fall in love with that? So apart from me feeling like I was in high school again, I kept it professional and was all about business. The girls had a great time and think I provided them with a foundation to improve women’s lacrosse in the region.
At the end of the week the men were exhausted, as were most of the women. All in all it was a great time and I can not wait to get back down there to help improve lacrosse in this part of the world. Watch out, as the Spaniards are taking Denver seriously. Next up for the men is a training camp before heading to a European summer tournament.
I always must remind myself that I am really blessed to have the opportunity to travel the globe and spread this wonderful game that the first nations gave us. – Brian Potter