Been hanging around the playing fields a bit more this spring. Brings back a host of thoughts and memories. Here are a few bits and pieces about coaching that I have picked up over the years, a fair number of which were learned the hard way. In no particular order…
- The essence of offense is unpredictability.
- You will have bad days on offense. But you never need have a bad day on defense.
- Scout strategy not talent. And assume that your upcoming opponent is having a bad day, no matter how the players perform when you are watching them. And if you must bring your players with you — my advice = Don’t! — the myopia will only be magnified. (True Story: Many moons ago, I took my lacrosse team to Boston to watch a Harvard game. At halftime, one of my captains came up to me and said, “Coach, we could hang with these guys.”… Me = “Yeesh…”)
- “Coaching is about two things: Winning and Misery.” – Glenn Begly, longtime Hobart William Smith women’s basketball coach; father of former Hyde teacher/coach Corey Begly
- Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Trite but true.
- “Baby a loser… Beat on a winner.” – Gary Kent, legendary Hyde coach in 70s, 80s, and 90s. (Translation: When your team is on a losing streak, tell them you believe in them and assure them that the next win is just around the corner. If on a winning streak, tell them that they’ve been feasting on cream puffs and have yet to be pushed.)
- “There are three kinds of offensive players: 1) Initiators; 2) Reactors; 3) Watchers. Purge your team of #3s.” – Dick Garber, legendary lacrosse coach at UMass.
- In the lacrosse kingdom, think of the defense as bears, the middies as tigers, and the attack as water bugs (every once in a while, you might get a beautiful hummingbird). With goalies, things get more complicated…
- Great lacrosse goalies tend to fall into two camps. There’s the Thoreau camp: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” And then there’s the Randle McMurphy camp: flat out cray-cray.
- Sometimes if you can shut down your opponent’s best offensive player, you can checkmate the whole team’s confidence. If not, you know you’re up against a real TEAM.
- “Be an athlete!” – Mort LaPointe. Bowdoin College lacrosse coach from 1970 thru 1990. (218 Wins, 76 losses for a career percentage of 74%) One of the great mentors I have been fortunate to have in my life.
- G.B.W.G. (Ground Balls Win Games). My first lacrosse coach (Fessenden School, 1968) told me that. He was right.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld