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Off and Running – First Day of Practice

Games are less than a month away. Daily practices have started. The winter portion of the schedule has begun.

Monday, January 8th – First day of practice

For Providence, January 8 is day #1. That’s just two weeks before the first scrimmage and less than a month before the first game.

It’s go time. Can’t waste days.

Coaches would prefer to keep it simple and do fundamentals but with scrimmages and games looming, install and game readiness can’t be postponed. The Friars will spend about a week getting their feet wet and review basics and then move forward.

January tips?

Never skip a warm up. Show up twenty minutes early and get mentally prepared for what’s next.

If you’re nervous, that’s good.

Dress for 5pm. Bring layers if you must.

Find extra reps before and after practice that get you excited.

Don’t let your mood impact your practice performance. Don’t bring your bad day onto the field.

Stop comparing your performance to your teammates. This isn’t about them. It’s about you.

Set season, monthly and weekly objectives. Write them down. A journal or calendar is beneficial.

Learn from the mistakes of others. Listen to the coaches. Surrender to the team schemes and become a playmaker within that framework. Commit to the fundamentals.

Focus on three things: genuine enthusiasm, working harder than everybody else and being a great teammate.

The Ivy League can’t start legal practice until February 1. There are many D1 games on February 2. Ivies can’t play a real contest until the third week of February. They routinely have captains’ practices in January, devoid of staff except for an athletic trainer, which builds leadership amongst the elder classmen. Players can also do individuals for up to two hours a week in January.

Hopkins first day is this Monday January 8. First scrimmage is Friday Jan 25 against UMBC and it will be played at the St James complex in northern Virginia. Jays host Denver on February 3 in a game that counts.

Duke starts on Saturday January 13 with two-a-days for three consecutive days. Old school. They scrimmage the Terps on the 20th and Marquette and VMI on the 27th.

Check your equipment a few days before practice starts. Nobody needs last minute drama.

I do not have fond memories of our JHU running test when I was in school. Two miles in under 12 minutes and ten 110 yard “sprints” in 17 seconds and ten 40 yarders in under 6 seconds. Minimal rest provided. Like a looming final exam, the mere thought of the run test and training for it, dominated December / January. It effectively changed player behavior. Thankfully, strength and conditioning programs have modernized.

Navy begins on Monday January 8.

Georgetown practices on January 10, also their first day of class. The Hoyas scrimmage Towson on Jan 20 and Maryland on Jan 27. Things happen quickly. The Swamp Dogs open with Loyola on February 3.

Players have to stay healthy during training camp. That is no easy assignment. Be proactive with injury prevention. If it’s sore, get ice on it right after practice. Catching a cold or getting the flu or Covid will slam the breaks on your progress. Hydration, nutrition, and sleep are your new best friends. Show up in shape or perish.

Training camp features practice that’s more like cross-country with stick work. Your screaming coach is now hoarse. If you can find a sliver of joy from the pain, congratulations. At a minimum, the shared misery builds camaraderie.

Winter is here. The dust of snowbanks circle the plowed field, as the wind cuts through your sweats. Lacrosse wasn’t meant for the enchanted winter wonderland. Keep moving those frozen fingers and toes. I pity the fans.

Countdown is on

The first men’s D1 game of 2024 is Mercer at High Point on Friday February 2, 2024. There’s anticipation across the nation. Everybody has hope. I counted 15 games on February 3rd including:

Denver at Johns Hopkins

Mount at Navy

Georgetown at Loyola

Maryland at Richmond

Marquette at Air Force

Vermont at Syracuse

St Joes at BU

Utah at Ohio State

Colgate at Penn State

Bellarmine at Duke

Lehigh at Rutgers

It’s 23 degrees outside.

Tape your ear holes.

Quint covers lacrosse for the ESPN Networks. Follow him this season at @QKessenich on X.