Culture Journey Week #7

Week 7 – Communication & Goal-Setting for Games
Our plan this week was to focus on communication, but as we are only one week out from our Fall tournament, I decided to tie this into starting to set goals for what to accomplish in games to have a successful tournament. This was probably our best conversation yet, and all of the coaches except the head coach attended and interacted throughout the meeting.

A quick follow-up from last week’s frustration – I did set up a coaches meeting and it felt like the head-coach is seeing some value in what we are trying to accomplish. I really think the deep conversations around this are going to come through the coach training we are doing with the Nashville Coaching Coalition in November and December.
Here are the goals we came up with in this week’s leadership meeting. The nice thing about doing them this week is that we discussed making sure we are focusing on practicing these habits in our practices next week leading up to the tournament.
  1. 50% Face-off wins. Ideally this would be much higher, but last year we hovered around 30% so 50% would be huge. One thing we’ve done much better this year is we brought in a coach who is a face-off specialist and we’ve spent 30+ minutes practicing face-offs in every practice. The cool thing we discussed in the meeting was that this is a 3-man goal, because in lacrosse face-offs are often won by the one of the two wings winning a groundball. Last year we would just track who took the actual face-off and not pay attention to the responsibility of the wings. One thing this conversation did point out was that next week we need to spend more time practicing and teaching the wings the best way to position themselves.
  2. 50% or our goals be with an Assist. Again long-term this number should be higher, but 50% would be a huge step forward for this team. This was another good conversation, as the boys asked would it count if you made a pass then that player makes a good one-on-one move to score. Since the main reason for this goal was to encourage team-play and for the players to realize good offense involves passing and making good choices instead of selfish ‘hero-ball,’ and considering one-on-one dodging in lacrosse is still an important element of the game, we agreed that we would consider a possession where the ball has moved in our offense and then a player gets an opportunity for a good shot, we would consider this assisted. We’ll see how this goes in the tournament and can modify it for the spring.
  3. Zero turnovers on shots on goal where we have no one behind the goal to retain possession. (For those not familiar with lacrosse, it’s different from most sports in that if you take a shot on goal and the ball goes past the goal and out-of-bounds, the team with the player closest to where the ball goes out of bounds retains possession.) Last year we gave up too many possessions where we either had players out of position or a player rushed a shot early in the possession before we could set up a player behind the goal.
  4. We have an offensive slow-break play which we are supposed to run every time down the field that is not a fast-break. It requires all the players focus and remembering to run it, and we were horrible at having everyone execute it last year. So we set a stretch goal of running the play at least 6 times per game.
  5. 90% successful clears with Zero offsides penalties. This is mostly a matter of focus and awareness, but considering you are have a 4 vs. 3 number advantage on clears, you should successfully execute most of them.
  6. Zero dumb penalties. This was another interesting conversation. We discussed that penalties arising from aggressive plays by playing physically on defense and going hard after groundballs, while no penalty is ideal, we could live with a few of them per game. What we can not live with are retaliation penalties where a player is just frustrated and takes a cheap shot at the opposition. We left it with the coaches having discretion as to what a dumb penalty was.
  7. Communication after first couple possessions. Just like in basketball, communication on defense in lacrosse is imperative. It also is a sign of discipline and is very intimidating to the offense if you have 7 defensive players all loudly communicating their responsibilities. What we observed last year was our team would do this the first few possessions of each half and then it would wain. This is a little tough to quantify and track, but we agreed this would be a top goal. The coaching staff then challenged the non defense players that they could affect this as well even though they don’t play defense. All of the leadership team needs to set the example of the importance of communication in everything we do. Call each player by name when calling for the ball, address the coaches by their full name (not ‘Hey Coach’), and make sure they know the name of all of the new players and call them by name during practice.
I am going to create a tracking sheet that will simplify me tracking these goals during the games, which will also serve the dual-purpose of keeping me occupied because one of my personal goals for this season is say much less during the games and let them figure things out on their own. Should be interesting!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: We recently had our first meetings this past Wednesday, and it was energizing and exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

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