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Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 9.49.25 AMBuilding Leadership Within Your Lacrosse Team
With some help from Head Coach Michigan, Coach Conry

Not sure why we got to this subject towards the end of my recent podcast with Head Coach Kevin Conry from Michigan, but I learned a lot.

Let me begin by suggesting I enjoy an outside reputation as a pretty good, but in my eyes not great coach. Or perhaps 35-40 yrs counts for something. However there are lacrosse-coaching areas that I am not so good at all, coaching goalies, coaching the minutia of face offs, … and Team Leadership within the Team. Actually I am terrible.

My dream/fantasy is to one day call a time out at the end of a close game and be prepared with a concise plan, anxious to communicate and encourage my team. In my “Time Out” fantasy, as the players approach two or three of my players tell me to go sit on the bench, “they have got this…”

I think I have modified my coaching style to address the unique characteristics of Millennial players, even spoken at LaxCon on that very subject. And as some of you know I have written books on the subject in my Leadership Consulting work at the corporate level, so I have 20 years of research. But I yearn for better leadership with this generation on my lacrosse teams, at least in my experience, not speaking for anybody else.

Young players today are not going to automatically respect authority figures simply because they have the title of Coach or regardless of how many Coach of the Year Awards you might have. More so than with any previous generation of players respect needs to be earned by coaches everyday with the practice plan, the preparation by the coach, as well as the communication style, but that is another article.

Choosing “Leadership” oriented Captains has been a challenge for me. Here are techniques I have tried…. Yet rarely in the last ten years have been satisfied,


Simply let the team vote on Captains. Usually popular seniors, often better players, but not always good leaders…

Modified Traditional – Hybrid

This is the technique I have used for the last five or six years. We decide to have four Captains…. The team votes… the coaches evaluate the selections or who received the most votes. Then the Coaching Staff adds a player to be a captain. The beauty of this or at least I thought was cool, was that the players never knew who of the four was voted in by the team, and who was added by the Coaching Staff.

Buffet Captains

I also have coached with great coaches who decided to rotate captains for each game. Perhaps they had five or six seniors and they wanted all to have recognition. Or perhaps it was determined on who had a great week of practice. It seemed to please everybody but fell way short on leadership in the off-season, or the pre-season, or even practice-to-practice.

Perhaps other top NCAA Coaches have adopted a similar philosophy, as they have at Michigan, I know some teams have Leadership Speakers or workshops, it just has not come up in 160 hours over ten years with NCAA Coach Podcasts. I did have one podcast where Coach Starsia addressed the subject, but not in this vein.

In a nutshell Coach Conry has treated this subject like a coach in every sense of the definition. Coach Conry suggests that leadership needs to be taught and nurtured no different than learning how to dodge or shoot metaphorically. In his case it was perhaps even more critical as he entered a program at Michigan that had only one Head Coach for as long as anybody could remember. So any change in the Lacrosse Culture most likely would come with a lot of anxiety. Change is always difficult eh?

Leadership Council

At Michigan, Coach has initiated a Leadership Council in addition to having Team captains in a more traditional sense. The Council includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors / captains. They meet every week or so just to share the perceptions of the team and practices from the eyes of players in each class.

In essence, at Michigan, they are training or developing players to look at the team and practices from the viewpoint/perspective of a leader. The Council “develops” perceptions and leadership skills and communication, not to mention ownership in the process, I loved it,

First, all Free Members can listen to Coach Conry share this in his own words in the free Preview Sample, Just Click Here…

Next, I would love to get some opinions shared below from coaches on how you select your captains, or how you may have modified how you select captains in the comments below,

Thanks so much, Mike (mike@laxcoachmike.com) [/private]

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