January 23, 2013
In my last practice, coaching lacrosse in a gym, I wanted the girls to feel successful with catching the ball. Most of the girls are ages 7 to 9 and the sport is new to them. I could have easily partnered the players up and have them toss the ball to one another. In my head I heard the maternal voice in me say “safety first”, tossing the ball to someone else may seem an easy enough task but not for this age group! So, instead of wasting time having the girls chase after missed catches or poor tosses – I got the parents involved!
I think the parents were a bit surprised to be used at practice at first. Each parents had a line of 2 or 3 players, I tried to make sure their own child was on another line. Parents were asked to simply toss the ball to the player in line and the players rolled the ball back. What happened was more than just the skills that the players were able to feel successful mastering because the tosses were perfect to their stick. What evolved was that parents were asking the girls their names (this was our 2nd practice) and they were encouraging them with direct cheering (“Laine, great catch”, “Elly way to move to get that ball”). While the activity may have lasted for 10 minutes, the lesson from the practice was that parents could get involved and feel connected to the coach and the team by using them for simple tasks. Coaches get creative, find a role for those parents; you may be surprised by their reaction and support.