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Exposure vs. Preparation Part 2: Getting Noticed by College Lacrosse Coaches

Editor’s Note: A former two-sport DI athlete at Fairfield University, Kelly has dedicated his life to building better lacrosse athletes, on and off of the field. Sean contributes regularly from his state-of-the-art Sports and Mental Preparation Facility in New Jersey. Take it from here, Sean!

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What you need to know:

Showcases should be treated like a final exam. If you don’t study and improve your weaknesses before the final, then you are most like going to receive a failing grade on the day of the test.

The Top 2 things that stick out when evaluating a player in a short period of time are Athleticism and Skill level.

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After posting my blog at the end of March titled Exposure vs Preparation: The Truth About Summer Lacrosse Events, I received a ton of feedback and questions from my readers.

Many of you agreed with my suggestion that the best way to play college sports is to prepare for playing college sports, NOT over exposing yourself to as many college lacrosse coaches as possible.

Many of my readers asked me to lay out the steps that their son/daughter can take to prepare for the summer events they will be attending.

The 2 questions that were asked most frequently were:

“What are college coaches looking for?”


“How can my son or daughter stand out in such a short period of time?

Based on my readers’ feedback I came up with a list of 7 attributes that I have heard college coaches say are the things that they look for when attending an event or showcase.

The first thing I suggest for parents and athletes are to put yourself in the coach’s shoes.

Think of the following scenario: You show up to a high school lacrosse game and watch 2 teams play. You don’t know the players on either team. You need to write a scouting report to choose the 3 or 4 best players on the field and immediately put them on your team.

You show up at warm-ups and stay through the game. What are 7 things you will notice and in what order?

7 Qualities College Lacrosse Coaches Look for in a Recruiting Prospect

#1 – Size

Fair or unfair, when you watch a high school lacrosse game the first players that any parent, coach, referee or fan notices are the biggest kids on the field.

Yes, height is genetic, however weight isn’t! You control your weight!

If you are 5’5-120lbs, then you need to be 5’5-140lbs. That is in your control. You should be eating 8 to 10 times a day and living in the weight room.

I understand that we can’t do anything about our height or our genetics, however if you don’t have “size” that will get you noticed, then you better be the best on the field in a few other areas.

What do college coaches recognize after size? The fastest kid on the field.

#2 –  Speed and Athleticism

Speed kills. There is no bigger advantage in sports; especially in lacrosse. SPEED, SPEED, SPEED.

The only way to get faster is to get stronger.

I can guarantee that the 2 or 3 fastest athletes on your team are also the athletes that can do the most push-ups and pull-ups.

Speed is a direct correlation to your relative level of strength. Speed can be developed. You can get faster, but most people aren’t willing to do the work that is necessary to get faster.

You CANNOT be slow and play the game of lacrosse. If you aren’t very fast then you need to get faster before you see anymore college coaches.

What is the next thing college coaches notice after size and speed? The most skilled player on the field.

#3 – Skill Level

Speed and size DO NOT MATTER if you can’t pass correctly, catch effectively, shoot accurately, scoop ground balls, protect your stick and play defense at a high level.

If you are not the best on your team at one of these skills, then you need to be working on them everyday. If you are not working on at least one of these skills everyday, then you are not preparing well enough.

After those 3 physical attributes, what intangible qualities are coaches looking for? The first is intensity.

#4 – Playing at a high level of Intensity

Coach Dave Pietramala from Johns Hopkins has been quoted saying:

Coaches are always looking for guys that compete with great energy and enthusiasm. How hard you play is something I find to be an interesting quality you’re looking for, but you don’t necessarily find it as much as you’d like.

I’m always amazed when I go to these camps and there’s a number of coaches watching and here’s the players, some who are not playing as hard as they’re capable of.

What is the next intangible college coaches cherish? Attitude.

#5 – How you react to situations

Do you hustle after a mistake or put your head down and palms up? Do you congratulate a teammate after he scores, even if you don’t really know him? Do you want the ball when the game is tied? How do you react when you let up a goal? Or when you miss a wide open shot?

Every college coach on the planet would love for their players to show up on day 1 of their freshman year with a super high Lacrosse IQ.

#6 – Lacrosse IQ

Are you in the right place at the right time? When you are under pressure do you make the right decision with the ball whether to shoot, pass, or pull it out? Do you understand the flow of a lacrosse game and do you make the players around you better?

Lacrosse IQ is simply how well we know the game inside and out. The more steps ahead you can see, the higher the Lacrosse IQ. It is all developed through watching games and letting the mind digest what the eyes have seen.

What is the 7th and final most important quality that college coaches want in their players? Consistency.

#7 – Consistency

Do you play solid position defense on every possession? Do you try to make a highlight reel play on every possession or do you make the play that gives your team the highest percentage chance to succeed? Do you make the saves you’re supposed to make or do you make a spectacular save and then let 3 easy ones by?

Remember, as I said in Part 1, the best way to become a college lacrosse player is to be a great high school lacrosse player.

  1. Ask yourself the following questions.
  2. Are you the best player on your team?
  3. Are you the best player in your league?
  4. Are you the best player in your county?
  5. Are you the best player in the state?
  6. Are you the best player in the country?

If you answered yes to 3 or more then you have a very high percentage chance of playing lacrosse in college. If you answered no to any of them, then you should be working your hardest to be able to check yes next to that box.

If you would like further information on this topic, please attend our free seminar “How to Maximize your Summer Lacrosse Experience” on May 27th at 7:30pm. Steve Carcaterra, Director of United Lacrosse, and I will lead a panel discussion. Space is limited so REGISTER NOW!

I would love to hear your feedback! Drop a comment below or please email me to talk more about your goals and how to achieve them!