Editor’s Note: The Australia U19 Lacrosse team recently went through their very own version of Hell Week, where the strong separate themselves from the weak, and coaches get to see who can stand the pressure, and who drops off. Matt Schomburg, an Australian lacrosse legend himself, sent over this recap of the Australia U19 Lacrosse Team going through a grueling set of training and practice events.
Schomburg, the owner of Fogolax.net and former national team player for Australia and All American at Adelphi, travelled to Melbourne, Victoria this past January to help assess the current Australia U19 Lacrosse squad on the men’s side. The training camp nicknamed “Hell Week“ and was set for 4 days of grueling mental and physical testing in the unusual Melbourne heat.
Hell Week For Australia U19 Lacrosse
The state based squad members arrived on January 2nd and, as is custom in the Australian lacrosse community, they were picked up by a billet (host) family. Whenever the kids travel interstate for games or training camps it is customary that a local based family look after a travelling player to cut down on the costs of travel for the squad members. This practice has gone on for years and I believe forms life long bonds between families and friends. It is not unusual for a family to spend anywhere from 4-8k $ for an athlete to make an Australian team. All players are responsible for their own costs associated with tryouts and the eventual team.
Click on the text to see a short video from the Australia U19 Lacrosse training camp.
Day 1 – the squad members were welcomed by 39 degree weather. Celsius that is! In Fahrenheit that is about 101 degrees. In anyone’s language hot!! The theme of the camp “hell week” was to become painfully obvious to the kids immediately, as they were weighed in, then put through a barrage of fitness tests including the infamous beep test and other strength and conditioning assessments.
Conditions were not ideal for this kind of activity and it was obvious that things were getting a little dangerous for the athletes as a make shift triage post was set up and some athletes were carted off to hospital for sun exposure and heat exhaustion.
Day 1 was rounded off with some skills and games followed by a pool session and team dinner. Not sure the restaurant was ready for the hungry pack of animals that invaded that night but they survived.
Day 2 – The set up was similar to day 1 with some classroom and tactical sessions mixed in. the boys were put through their mental paces with some lax IQ tests and some sports psychiatry exams before more lax 101 on the field and scrimmages to follow in the evening. I conducted a Face off clinic for the squad members and some of the local athletes. This was attended by over 50 players and the clinic was a huge success for everyone and really opened the eyes of the participants to the drills and skills necessary to make it at the X at a high level.
Day 3 – We switched it up on day 3 and saw some team building exercises at historic and beautiful Williamstown beach, followed by some lunch and finally a game with the local members of the Australian U23 squad, which is being assembled for games in Thailand this year. The team that was picked out of the over 100 squad members was based upon strength and conditioning results and overall fitness improvements, and not necessarily the most talented athletes.
Day 4 – We wrapped things up and players headed home. It was a successful, if not brutally hot, Hell Week.
Although overmatched athletically and size wise, the U19 squad competed extremely hard. I was very impressed with the grit and determination and ability to stay focused under the conditions. Some of the standout areas for the squad included goalie and face off play. Both of the positions handled themselves with distinction and definitely impressed all coaches on the day.
As a coaching staff we are very clear on our objectives and goals for this campaign and are acutely aware that we have a long way to go. We are excited for the improvements that were made over the 4 day camp and are very eager to see what squad members take it to the next level and apply all of the skills and tactics they were taught during the camp. Next stop for the U19 Crocodiles is a tour of the states in July this year. I for one and very excited to have them here on my home turf playing against some of the local club teams and HS.
Many thanks to Darren Fanner and his helpers for a successful camp and to Lee Vickery and the rest of the coaching staff for allowing me the opportunity to help out this weekend.