Tuesday, November 18, 2008
A Coach’s Perspective: Fall Tournaments & Initiating Contact
This Sunday, I headed up to Lehigh's King of the Mountain tournament. On top of $1.95/gallon gas prices that I took advantage of in New Jersey, the Fall Ball jamboree was very worthwhile. There were forty teams there from all over the northeast, including one team from Canada. The weather was cold and windy, forcing most of the players to wear sweatpants/leggings throughout the day, except for the Canadians of course.
This was my third tournament I have attended this fall, and the old adage held true that the third camp was the charm. I arrived at King of the Mountain looking for two types of players. One, I was looking for a couple of athletic poles to add to an already talented list of defensive recruits. And two, I looked for an offensive player who had the potential to quarterback an offense. In general, however, I was looking for seniors with potential who have slipped through the cracks and remained under the radar for one reason or another.
My criteria for evaluating defensemen consisted of the following: Most importantly, does he have the speed to keep up with his attackman/middie? Not looking for take away artists, does he play solid angles and stay on his attackman/middie's hands, making him as uncomfortable as possible without getting out of position? Looking to play an upbeat style of play, a defenseman with the ability to get the ball up off the ground and have composure with the ball in his stick is key. He must be able to move it upfield by either passing it to a teammate ahead of the play or legging it himself. I found a couple defenseman who fit this mold and contacted them first thing Monday morning.
On the offensive end, I was looking for someone to come in and be a quarterback of an offense. Currently, our list of recruits is loaded with athletes on the offensive end. I was looking for an attackman or middie who understood how to play within the offense of their respective club team, communicated non stop, and possessed the intangibles. Players who can dodge through six guys and score at the high school level are most likely not going to be as successfull at the college level. All the pressure for kids to stand out at these Jamborees often forces them to play out of their comfort zone. I was looking for a player that saw the field well and communicated what he saw to his teammates.
In the end, every coach at every level is looking for hustle. After a mistake, will the player compound the mistake by either getting a penalty or not hustling back on defense or off the field? Coaches keep track of every positive thing they see on the field. They also keep track of every negative thing they see on the field. For instance, I received a highlight tape from a high school player in the mail. I watched it, and the kid looked talented. I showed the tape to the head coach. He referenced his notes from the summer to see if he missed this kid. Next to the kids name was written "absolutely not-no hustle!" That closed the book on our relationship with this kid. So, when in doubt, hustle.
I received e-mails from a bunch of players notifying me that they will be attending the tournament. I appreciate the effort, therefore, the first teams I watch play are those who have contacted me ahead of time. If other coaches are like me, I advise high school players to contact the head and assistant coaches of their schools of interest. It is like dealing with a warm lead if you were a salesman, which many college coaches are.
A few tips on what to include in your initial e-mail.
1) Your name.
2) The club team you are playing for.
3) The jersey number you are wearing. If you are not wearing the number listed on your teams roster you might as well not show up.
4) Your position.
5) Keep it brief and spell check. Do not e-mail coaches as if it were a text message.
Do not write "im gonna be at lehigh this sunday and was hopin that you could watch me play. i really wanna play college lacrosse." We, of course, appreciate the interest. But, let the coach decide how casual the e-mails will be. It does not matter how talented a recruiting class is if they cannot stay academically eligible for the spring. An e-mail with poor grammar will do more harm that good, it will either indicate lack of effort, lack of attention to detail, lack of interest, or lack of intelligence. So, have your mom, dad, brother, sister, or college advisor proofread all e-mails if you do not trust your own writing.