A quick commentary on NJ Summer Travel programs

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After so many years being involved in youth lacrosse I am often asked what summer travel teams I would recommend to have developing players tryout for.

I have always believed that there is a number of quality summer travel lacrosse programs available in the state of New Jersey. The diversity of each program ensures that there is a place on the roster for players at various levels of commitment and ability. If a player want to play summer lacrosse in New Jersey they should always be able to find a team that a fit for them.

While my son has participated in and played against multiple summer travel programs I have had the opportunity to observe how many of them are run. We have been lucky in the fact most have been positive experiences for him.

You will never hear me criticize a program unless I feel the program is self serving and just out there to make money. We have had only one very painful experience with one program that clearly was only interested in pumping players through their one day tryout to make as much money as possible.

So now while I post a lot on social media regarding my son’s current team, the NJ Riot, you can look back through the history of my social media posts and see I have been complimentary to other programs he has been involved with. I will continue to expound the virtues and promote any of the programs I believe have the players best interest in mind. Through his participation in the NJ Riot program he received interest from several college coaches and in the spring of his junior year he committed to play at a division III school.

While our goal was to allow our son to get proper training to improve his game and get exposure to the college recruiting process, that might not be the goal of every family.   Several of the programs that I know do a good job and get their players the exposure and training are NJ Riot, NJ Thunder, Building Blocks, Tri State, NJ Emeralds and Leading Edge.  These programs offer mentoring and focus on getting the players on college coaches radar. A new comer to my list would be Phoenix Lacrosse run by Andrew Blasko.   All the above programs have websites and social media presence with contact information.

There are other types ofprograms out there so I would offer the following.  If your goal is to get instruction and college exposure look to the type of programs I mentioned above.  If you just want your player to continue to keep a stick in their hands there are plenty of those types out there.

My Recommendation would be to first check the Website of a program and read their mission statement to see if their philosophy is in-line with your own. I would then try to speak with parents and players who have participated with the program in the past. Check out the caliber of tournaments that their youth teams play in and then what showcase events they position their High School teams to participate in. How many nights a week do they practice? How many tournaments will they play in? What is the cost of participation? What experience does the coaching staff have? What equipment do I receive when I participate? what is the retention rate of players from year to year?

If anybody would like more info on summer programs please feel free to contact me.

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Moving from the Coaching box to the stands.

Before I start on this topic, let me first say that I am blessed that my son’s current high school team and his summer travel team both have an excellent group of parents associated with them that encourage their players, supports their teams and respects their coaches and the officials.

After coaching for many years I finally now have the opportunity to watch my son play from the stands.

Being on the bench side coaching you are mostly insulated from the parents on the opposite side of the field. You can actually watch how the game is unfolding with minimal distractions.

Once I transitioned to the stands I found myself sidetracked by listening to some parents comments, complaints and coaching.

When I started to hear comments like “Johnny should be running on the first line” or “they should feed the ball to Johnny more, he can run through anybody” I had to move out of the stands and down to the sidelines along the parents side. It wasn’t that I was being unsociable it was because I was there to watch a lacrosse game not to listen to them. There might be a reason Johnny is running on the second line or doesn’t touch the ball more often. The coach generally was selected for a reason and usually has 20 or more players on their squad. Every player has a specific role on the team. Almost every coach that I have had the pleasure or working with had a plan for their whole teams success and generally tried to put every player into situations that they could be successful in.

I was also taken aback by the comments directed at the referees. As a coach if I had an issue with a call that a ref made I would talk to him away from the team. I did not want the players to feel that they had a right to dispute a judgement call the referee made just because I was yelling at him. I didn’t yell at the ref and I would simply ask for a clarification on the ruling. If I disagreed with the call I let the him know and we moved on. When I hear parents yelling across the field at a referee about blowing a call, I cringe and think what is the message they are sending to their children. Almost every referee I have ever had call a game for me did a fair and unbiased job and each and everyone of them deserve respect for the job they are doing on the field.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a parent coaches from the stands. I recently attended a winter indoor lacrosse game in which my son was participating. Being that he was playing attack I wandered down to the offensive end so I could get a better view of him playing.
One of the opposing defensemen’s fathers also happened to be at that end to watch his son. The father was constantly telling his son what to do, sometimes in contradiction to what the coach was directing the players to do. Several times I heard him yelling at his son to “take the body” and “lay him out”. Every time the player tried to do what his father yelled at him, the offensive player simply dodged and ran by him. Not only did the player get discouraged but both the coach and the parent became frustrated with the players effort. When a player hears direction being yelled out to him by a parent he is distracted from what the coach is trying to get him accomplish. Coaches should be the only ones giving instructions to players on the field.

Honor the Game, Honor your Opponent, Honor your Team,Honor your Coach and Honor the Officials is just as important for the parents to remember as it is for the players.

A quick commentary on NJ Summer Travel programs

Agency Recruit

After so many years being involved in youth lacrosse I am often asked what summer travel teams I would recommend to have developing players tryout for.

I have always believed that there is a number of quality summer travel lacrosse programs available in the state of New Jersey. The diversity of each program ensures that there is a place on the roster for players at various levels of commitment and ability. If a player want to play summer lacrosse in New Jersey they should always be able to find a team that a fit for them.

While my son has participated in and played against multiple summer travel programs I have had the opportunity to observe how many of them are run. We have been lucky in the fact most have been positive experiences for him.

You will never hear me criticize a program unless I feel the program is…

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Off season Lacrosse training!!

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Training during the season and training during the off-season should not be the same. During the season, the goal of training should be to maintain your levels. During the off season your goal should be to concentrate on increasing your strength, endurance and agility in preparation for your lacrosse season

Strength Training

During the off season strength training should focus on exercises that improve your core, your upper body, your lower body and incorporates exercises that mimics the range of motion used in the game of lacrosse.

Core training is important since your lower back and your abdomen is where a large portion of your power comes from. To work on the core simple sit-ups are great exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles. By introducing an exercise ball you can increase the effectiveness of your sit-up routine. Also reverse sit-ups or crunches can be added to your routine to add variety. Rotational type exercises where you rotate from your hips also help develop your core.
Try taking a resistance band and attach it over a door frame and then to the the head of a lacrosse stick. by mimicking the throwing motion and rotating from your waist you will be working muscles in you abdomen, your arms and your shoulders. be sure to work both sides of your body to strengthen both your dominate and none dominate throwing arm.

Lower Body Strength

Lower body strength is important since your power, your stamina and your speed are dependent upon your legs. Several exercises such as squats, leg presses and leg curls can improve your lower body strength.

Upper Body Strength

It is important that any off season program work on developing upper body strength. Since the throwing motion in lacrosse is both a pulling and pushing motion, exercises that utilize both a pulling and pushing motion to develop strength are ideal. Concentrated curls with barbells and bench presses should always be included in an exercise routine.

A good pulling exercise is the Barbell Row where you hold a bar or weights in front of your thighs, you bend your knees and tilt your torso forward to about a 45 degree while holding your abs in tight. Take the weight out, following the line of your thighs. Slowly squeeze your back to draw the weight in towards your stomach.

Another pulling exercise is the Front Raises. You stand with your feet hip-width apart, abs in tight and your torso upright with medium weight barbells resting in front of your thighs. Your palms should be facing your thighs. Lift yours arms straight up to shoulder level with your palms facing the floor.

A good pushing exercise would be the Overhead Press where you sit or stand holding medium weight barbells in your hands with your elbows bent and weights next to your shoulders. Straighten your elbows and push the weights overhead, with you palms facing each other and slightly in front of head. Lower arms and repeat.

Cardio

The cardio training should mimic game play while developing endurance and speed.

You should have at least two long runs a week to build your endurance.

For speed workouts, a interval routine is generally the best option. Mixing sprints, three quarter speed and jogging during a session allows to body to work hard and recover during the routine. Starting at the face-off X Sprint to the corner of the field. From the corner run three quarter speed to the opposite corner behind the goal. From that corner jog back to the face-off X.

Hopefully if you can keep up this type of a routine during the off season, you will be prepared when your spring lacrosse season comes around. Good luck.

Concussions: A Parents first hand story.

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There has been a lot of focus on concussions in sports at all levels lately. We have heard about the long term consequences that NFL players are experiencing and the debilitating affect it has on their lives. Well, it can have quite an impact on kids also.

When my son was 12 years old he was an active athletic kid who enjoyed playing multiple sports. His passion although was the game of lacrosse. During the Fall of his 6th grade year he was playing football for our town travel program. During a practice he was upended and landed square on his head. To the coaches credit they immediately took him out of practice and brought him to the sidelines. That night I took him to the emergency room where it was determined he had suffered a low level concussion. A headache and some dizziness were his only symptoms. After seeing his pediatrician the next day it was determine that he should stay home for three days from school.

Three days later he was cleared to return to school but no football until a follow-up visit to the doctors office.

On the first day of his return to school, he dropped a pencil and banged the back of his head on his desk. The headaches and dizziness returned and he was again held out of school for three days.

After consulting his pediatrician he was released to go back to school but no football. On his second day back he bumped his head in the busy hallway during the mad rush to get to class. His symptoms came back but now they were even worse. They now include vomiting and disorientation.

We immediately took him to the emergency room where we were told we needed to make an appointment with the Atlantic Health Care Neuroscience Center at Overlook Hospital in Summit NJ.

At the center they attempted to administer a Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test(ImPACT™) also known as a baseline test. My son could not get through five minutes of this twenty minute computerized test. It was determine that the repetitive blows to the head, with only the first being sports related had caused his concussion to go from low level to severe.

Treatment started with several specialist within the Neuroscience Center. We worked with nutritionists, neurologists, neurophyscologists and pain management physicians.

It was heartbreaking watching this vibrant 12 year old debilitated by these concussions. He became depressed, he couldn’t sleep, any light bothered him, he could not concentrate on conversations and he became withdrawn.

After several months of treatment his concentration started to improve and the center recommended that we start physical therapy to retrain his brain to relearn, compensate and start to heal itself. We were very fortunate to find a physical therapy center that had experience in dealing with neurological and vestibular rehabilitation for young athletes. With the help of the therapists over the course of several months my son was able to start to regain his balance and his dexterity. He always looked forward to therapy since it was a chance to again do physical activities even though they caused him discomfort.

During his months of down time and rehabilitation my son grew six inches, likely due to the vitamins and the nutritional plan we were following. Again we were fortunate since the physical therapy center was affiliated with a sports training facility. In addition to his twice weekly physical therapy sessions he started going to the training facility several nights a week to relearn how to use the other muscles in his body.

My son required in home tutoring for six months before it was determined he could resume school. His tutor was a teacher in our school system who did an excellent job mentored and monitored him until she thought he was ready to go back to classes. He started part-time with a disability plan and gradually work back to being a full time student.

Once he was back in school his guidance counselor did an outstanding job of taking care of him. She shared her office with him so he did not have to travel the busy hallways getting books in and out of his locker. With the help of the school staff my son made it through his sixth grade year.

During all this time my son continued to periodically take the baseline test to see if he was improving.

After ten months of visits to the neurologic center, the various specialists, the physical therapists and the training facility my son went back to take his last baseline and to see if he was going to be able to play sports again.

While he was taking his test the neurologist asked to have a private conversation with my wife and myself. We spoke at length about if there ever would be any contact related sports that our son would be able to participate in. We were concerned that by taking away lacrosse it would do damage to his psyche.

Once the testing was completed and reviewed the three of us had a consultation with the neurologist. Sitting next to my wife and myself was one scared child who was almost dreading the results. The neurologist started by talking about how my son needed to be careful going forward in all of his physical activities and I could see my son only thinking the worst. Finally the neurologists indicated that if my son was careful he could return to playing lacrosse. My son’s demeanor immediately changed from scared and dejected to elated.

Now three years later my son continues to enjoy lacrosse, school and life in general. We think that the fact that he missed almost a year of his life due to his concussion he has become a more driven individual.

With knowledgable and caring physicians, therapists and educators and proper rehabilitation it is possible to continue an active life and enjoy sports. Do not discount the severity of any concussion and be sure to pursue complete and proper treatment. I have seen parents who have rushed their children back into situations that in the long run can do more damage than if they took the proper steps in ensuring the health of the child.

A quick commentary on NJ Summer Travel programs

Tags

, , , ,

After so many years being involved in youth lacrosse I am often asked what summer travel teams I would recommend to have developing players tryout for.

I have always believed that there is a number of quality summer travel lacrosse programs available in the state of New Jersey. The diversity of each program ensures that there is a place on the roster for players at various levels of commitment and ability. If a player want to play summer lacrosse in New Jersey they should always be able to find a team that a fit for them.

While my son has participated in and played against multiple summer travel programs I have had the opportunity to observe how many of them are run. We have been lucky in the fact most have been positive experiences for him. 

You will never hear me criticize a program unless I feel the program is self serving and just out there to make money. We have had only one very painful experience with one program that clearly was only interested in pumping players through their one day tryout to make as much money as possible.

So now while I post a lot on social media regarding my son’s current team, the NJ Riot, you can look back through the history of my social media posts and see I have been complimentary to other programs he has been involved with. I will continue to expound the virtues and promote any of the programs I believe have the players best interest in mind. Through his participation in the NJ Riot program he received interest from several college coaches and in the spring of his junior year he committed to play at a division III school.

While our goal was to allow our son to get proper training to improve his game and get exposure to the college recruiting process, that might not be the goal of every family.   Several of the programs that I know do a good job and get their players the exposure and training are NJ Riot, NJ Thunder, Building Blocks, Tri State, NJ Emeralds and Leading Edge.  These programs offer mentoring and focus on getting the players on college coaches radar. A new comer to my list would be Phoenix Lacrosse run by Andrew Blasko.   All the above programs have websites and social media presence with contact information.

There are other types ofprograms out there so I would offer the following.  If your goal is to get instruction and college exposure look to the type of programs I mentioned above.  If you just want your player to continue to keep a stick in their hands there are plenty of those types out there.

My Recommendation would be to first check the Website of a program and read their mission statement to see if their philosophy is in-line with your own. I would then try to speak with parents and players who have participated with the program in the past. Check out the caliber of tournaments that their youth teams play in and then what showcase events they position their High School teams to participate in. How many nights a week do they practice? How many tournaments will they play in? What is the cost of participation? What experience does the coaching staff have? What equipment do I receive when I participate? what is the retention rate of players from year to year? 

If anybody would like more info on summer programs please feel free to contact me.

Welcome to Agency Recruit

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Welcome to the first blog entry from Agency Recruit. Agency Recruit is a personal recruiting firm specializing in athletic scholarship marketing for exceptional high school athletes.

Agency Recruit provides a suite of athletic recruiting services including private consulting, athlete marketing, athlete websites, social media, video services and custom recruiting packages.

We will be highlighting many stories and articles to help you and your players navigate the complex recruiting process. Wether you want to play Division I, Division II or Division III we can help you along the way. Stay tuned and follow us here on our Blog or on our FaceBook page as we move through this journey. Also feel free to check us out on our website http://www.agencyrecruit.com

Till the next time stay focused on your academics and work hard in your athletic endeavors.

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