High school season is around the corner. What are clubs doing in the winter months?
We check back in with our panel for the first time in 2015 to find out how they are preparing their athletes for the upcoming spring and summer seasons.
JC Valore – SouthShore (NJ)
In general, we recognize the club sports scene has a niche. As a summer and fall program primarily, we will continue to provide our players and families the necessary rest that they may unknowingly need.
Speaking as a club director who is a head coach of a high school program and employs other coaches as members of the SouthShore staff, we keep it simple in the winter. Many things going on within our program are the bookkeeping, tournament registrations, and continued contact with college coaches regarding potential recruits. Coaches and players alike are preparing for the rigors of their spring season, and being with your own team allows the best chemistry to develop. We would prefer not to pull high school players away from their winter commitments. In regards to preseason preparation, the areas competitive teams are all operating their own offseason programs that we are respectful of.
We do allow the opportunity for our youth players to attend two box tournaments and provide practices for them in preparation. This continues to build the culture we strive for as well as exposing them to new techniques of the box game that can be transferred to the field game. As a program we continue to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of ourselves and use these winter months as a time of reflection as well.
Marty Kupprion – NXT (PA)
We cherish the winter months of our NXT LC year-round programs. The fall, which culminates in a busy November month of events, can be a grind. At NXT, we love multi-sport athletes and understand we have wrestlers, swimmers, hockey and basketball players, among others, and we encourage that in addition supporting them in their other sports. It’s crucial for us is to host our high school players and their families at our offices for player development meetings. Each family meets with at least three of their NXT coaches in a meeting led by the player, who uses a uniform agenda that hits on academic reports, lacrosse feedback and short-term and long-term goals. It’s great to have this type of personal time away from the field and we enjoy talking to the boys about their interests and goals, whether they have to do with lacrosse or not. In addition to giving every player feedback on their development and fall performance, we also take time to connect with their high school coaches and college coaches of our committed players to keep the coaches updated on the players’ progress.
We are a club program that believes whole-heartedly in the benefits of box lacrosse. Because of that, box has become of crucial cog in NXT LC’s year-round training curriculum. We practice weekly at the Main Line Sports Center in Berwyn, where we have plenty of space to work on both field and box lacrosse, in addition to position and agility work. All of our club players are exposed to box lacrosse teaching and training sessions throughout the winter. Our 5th through 11th grade youth teams participate in a Sunday box league against local clubs and school programs. The kids love it and it is so much fun to watch them. Box lacrosse is taking off in the Philadelphia area and we are lucky to have one of the best American-born pro players on our staff in the ever-enthusiastic Brett Manney.
Winter has been especially exciting on the operations side as we look ahead to our youth teams participating in a league for the first time. Most of Philly’s top clubs will be involved, as well as teams from around the state and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting as lots of the boys will juggle their township, school and club teams, which makes it for a busy spring for all of us. All of our summer practice and event dates were confirmed and communicated before January 1, so now we are looking ahead to the 2015-2016 school year and our plans for the fall, winter, spring and summer.
Lee Southren – Riot Lacrosse (NJ)
This is definitely a slower period for us. We are working on ordering all of our gear and apparel for our boys this summer and helping a group of our HS players with their recruiting.
We have a few clinics going as well as some individual training for our players that want to tune up their game and conditioning prior to their spring season. We have respectfully stayed away from club activities starting March 1st as in NJ it is the town recreations time for their play. There have been talks about clubs getting very involved in spring for the A players, and a couple clubs have dabbled in it so far. We will certainly jump in if that’s what the local market bears, but will certainly not be a trend setter in this category.
Matt Hoffman – Connecticut Valley
In January and February, we are incredibly busy finishing up preparations for summer in addition to planning our Pre-Season Skills Clinic. We remain incredibly active on emails and in our communication with our parents and players sharing off-season workouts, information on camps, and spending time discussing college recruiting for each graduation level.
In March of each year, we offer a Pre-Season Skills Clinic just before the start of the Connecticut high school lacrosse season. In Connecticut, the season beings very late (March 23) and we feel it’s a great opportunity to get players on the field and work out all the kinks before they take a shot at trying out for their respective schools varsity team.
We run a 3 hour session with a lunch break, splitting the players into groups by graduation years and then skill level. Many may believe the winter months are quiet with Connecticut Valley Lacrosse, but it’s one of our busiest times of the year outside the summer months!
Mark Petrone – Mesa Fresh Fever (PA)
Winter is the time to “sharpen the sword” players and coaches have to prepare mentally, physically and technically for the spring season. Our Mesa Fresh Fever players meet once a week to improve stick skills and lacrosse IQ at our winter skills sessions. These sessions are high repetition indoor practices that are fast paced and fun. Just 1.5 hours a week with our coaches coaching throwing, catching, scooping, dodging and shooting. The sessions are fast paced but our coaches are afforded the time to stop and teach proper technique. We also ask players to hit the wall and get 20 minutes a day of skill work on their own.
Lacrosse is a skill game, to play at the highest level you have to have great skill. Playing games does not build your skill, so you have to spend time on your own. We also encourage players to participate in other sports. You can learn a lot about lacrosse by playing basketball or ice hockey; you also learn sportsmanship and teamwork.
Personally, I spend a lot of time in the winter improving my coaching skills; watching film, going to coaching clinics, speaking with colleagues, learning new drills and inventing better terminology. If any coach if looking for ideas or have any good X and O’s follow me on twitter @Mark_Petrone1. Around Philadelphia, we have access to great college lacrosse. Villanova, Penn, Drexel, and Cabrini are all top programs. College teams start practice in mid January so I am lucky enough to be able to visit with them before our Haverford School season starts at the end of February. Winter is the calm before the storm so you have to invest your time wisely.