NAYS’ newly released coach training programs for lacrosse earn high marks

3/3/2011

Well known throughout the north Charlotte (N.C.) metro area for their strong teams from U-9 through the high school level, Lake Norman United Lacrosse is no stranger to running a successful lacrosse program. However, when their player participation increased by almost 40 percent last year, the board of directors knew they had to take measures to maintain the quality and professionalism of their program.
 
“We felt that the high level of professionalism we have set for ourselves on the field should be represented off the field as well,” said Dale Tweedy, board member of Lake Norman United Lacrosse.
 
They reached out to the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) to establish an official NAYS Chapter and become the first in the country to utilize the National Youth Sports Coaches Association’s (NYSCA) newly released Coaching Boys Lacrosse training program; and they will be utilizing the Coaching Girls Lacrosse program in the coming days.
 
“We saw NAYS as the de facto standard of coach training in youth sports in the United States,” Tweedy said.
 
The two programs were put together with the help of Jim Stagnitta and Laura Brand-Sias, the head men’s and women’s lacrosse coaches at Rutgers University. The one-hour programs, which are available online through the NAYS web site at www.nays.org, as well as on-site, feature these well-known coaches covering shooting, passing, defending, face-offs, ground balls and goaltending, among many other basic skills of the game. They also share a variety of drills that coaches can incorporate into their practices to help their players learn and develop skills, and they discuss some key strategies of the game.  
 
“The lacrosse video was spot on!” said Tweedy. “What Coach Stagnitta was coaching in skills and drills is very familiar to us.”
 
Similar to all youth sports programs, Lake Norman has several new coaches and assistant coaches join the organization each year, some with little or no youth sports experience.
 
“This process nails down the basic and intermediate skills that we have to teach our kids before they can advance to the next level in lacrosse,” said Tweedy.
 
Lake Norman also benefits from having several former college and professional lacrosse players working with its participants, as well as some of the Lake Norman High School coaching staff.
 
“We are very fortunate to have highly qualified and experienced coaching staff at all levels of our program,” Tweedy said. “You would think that when you introduce a youth certification program to coaches of this caliber, it would get pushed backed – not us.” Establishing a NAYS Chapter with NYSCA training received overwhelming support from all the coaches at Lake Norman.
 
NYSCA training provides a thorough education on topics, such as psychology of coaching youth sports, communicating with players, teaching sportsmanship, injury prevention, nutrition and hydration, as well as the skills and drills specifically applicable to the sport that the coach is teaching. For Lake Norman, the sport is lacrosse.
 
The jump in participation numbers Lake Norman has seen in their program is representative of lacrosse’s increasing popularity across the country. With more than 30,000 youth athletes beginning to play lacrosse last year, it is one of the fastest-growing team sports.

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