Q & A’s with Coach Bryan Brazill
What attitude and skills are important for a Middle School player to start developing to become a great lacrosse player?
Most middle school lacrosse players need to think in terms of keeping it simple. They get caught up in the flash of the game, and then the highlights. But what they don’t realize is that the guys they see making flashy plays have worked hard at building up exceptional fundamentals. The great players start with a great foundation. They typically use the flashy stuff as a last resort or when something opened up where they had to get flashy.
As far as attitude goes – you’ve got to be willing to keep learning. So many Middle School and High School kids think there’s nothing left for them to learn. Great college players learn something every day at upper level practices and games. Even with myself, I’ve been playing the game since I was nine and I still learn new stuff almost every time I play. I’m extremely open to adapting and evolving my game, I take a lot of my game from other players, incorporate things they do well, I also learn from friends and coaches all the time and I stay open to their advice.
So you’re always watching other people with the intention of seeing what you can pick up for yourself to learn more?
Constantly. All the best players I know are doing this. I find so often that young kids confuse still having stuff to learn with being bad or remedial. I think you can be an exceptional player and always have things to learn. Just because you need to be taught things and improve things doesn’t mean that you’re not already very good. You can be both. You can be learning AND good.
The sport has changed so much in the last ten years and will change so much more in the next ten years. If you’re standing still, you’re getting left behind. Some kids think they’ve got it all because they can catch and throw and shoot underhand. But not all kids are like that. I just had a lesson with three unbelievably talented 8th graders and they were like sponges just soaking up everything I said. They were really impressive, talented kids and they were there to learn and they got a lot better throughout the lesson. Now they’re even further ahead of their peers. All kids need to learn how to keep their egos in check and be open to realizing there’s always room for improvement.
In terms of physical conditioning, what does a Middle School kid need to be thinking of for a long-term career in lacrosse?
They’re probably not quite ready for weight lifting. They can be doing light stuff to start developing the habit of being in the gym. Starting to do push-ups, sit-ups, planks, pull-ups, body weight stuff, but they shouldn’t be banging around weights because a because their bodies are still developing. They want to wait until they’re pretty far through their final growth spurt before they start seriously lifting. But it’s a very physically demanding sport and they need to be well-conditioned. They can always be running long distances, although that’s a skewed term because anything over 4 miles isn’t best for lacrosse. It’s better to be at 3 ½ miles or under and pick up the pace, instead of going further distances at a steady jog. Lacrosse is more of a sprint/rest oriented game like basketball, with jogging in between. So, circuit training is great, where they’re doing different speed sprints around a track for different lengths of time.