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I launched the Goble Group in 2011 and took the HC job thinking I would be able to do both.  I believed it was a chance to give back to the youth and help grow a sport that has provided me with many opportunities. While I gave my best to coaching lacrosse, the growth of my business stalled, making our family financial situation much more scary than maybe it would have been. Parents say they want the best for their kid, but only as long as the parents get what they want too. Join the ‘Building a Better You Community’ and receive a gift from John as thanks! Some of the links included on this website, either as part of an original page or in a blog post, may be affiliate links where I make a small percentage of the sale if you purchase the item in question. Lacrosse MagazineLacrosse Magazine, owned and published by US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse, is circulated to more than 430,000 members of the organization as one of the benefits of membership. US Lacrosse and the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) are partners in a nationwide endeavor to make lacrosse a positive, character-building experience for every athlete and to make the experience a more successful one for coaches, parents, fans and officials. From mathematic puzzles to Lacrosse, there is something for everyone to enjoy as part of our Junior Events Programme. Our versatile and beautiful 35 acre campus is ideally suited for all your corporate and social events.
While the opportunity to coach was good, when I was reflecting on the season, I was reminded that good is the enemy of great.
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Richard Ginsburg More from the Fundamentals of Coaching Youth Lacrosse Series: Select Story Fun is Essential Teach Sportsmanship Early Kids Are Not Little Adults Keep it Age-Appropriate Defining Success by Age Group Provide Positive Feedback Save Specialization for Older Kids Avoid Overtraining Use Appropriate Equipment The Case For Not "Playing Up" Practice makes perfect. For me, family has to be priority #1, even if it means letting go of other opportunities, including good ones.
To no surprise, this message courses strongly through the veins of youth sports and in the game of lacrosse. The US Lacrosse-PCA partnership helps us create the quality lacrosse programs we all desire, and provides our athletes with a positive learning experience, while also giving leaders, coaches and parents the tools and training needed to play an active role in "Honoring the Game".
If our children practice the sport of lacrosse every day, they will likely improve their skills and become better players.Such a belief seems entirely logical. Founded in 1998, Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is committed to providing all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience. When does specializing exclusively in one sport from an early age become a risky investment?From another perspective, why shouldn't we simply commit our children to playing lacrosse exclusively on a year-round basis at a very early age so they can become experts by the time they need a college scholarship or at least a competitive advantage in the college admissions process?Research studies that support the early sport specialization argument exist, even though they are in small numbers.
The most well-known study was conducted by Ericsson and colleagues (1993) who reported that musicians training up to 10,000 hours over the course of their careers, using deliberate practice (practice focused solely on improvement and not enjoyment), were more likely to become expert musicians than those who trained significantly less.Since the publication of this study and its popularity enhanced by Malcolm Gladwell's “Outliers,” we have witnessed a significant surge in sport specialization nationally. PCA’s partnership network includes more than 1,700 youth sports organizations, cities and schools.Why is this partnership important for you? Lacrosse, once a sport that was thought to be complementary to other field sports—including hockey, football, soccer, field hockey and basketball—is increasingly affected by the specialization bug.

Fall tournaments, winter indoor leagues, summer camps and tournaments, are all now common parts of a lacrosse playing experience.It comes down to this. A growing number of ten- and eleven-year-olds are being told that they must make a choice about their athletic careers. You can't play both if you want to play at a higher level." How does a young child choose at this age? How are they able to project into the future and anticipate which sport is going to be a better fit for them both from a performance and enjoyment perspective? And what metrics do we have as parents to help guide them?I personally don't think these forced choices are driven by an overall concern for the well-being and health of youth.
Rather, these decisions are the result of the manipulation of our (parental) fears for the profit of the few.
We fear that if we say no to the elite travel team or the summer tournament that conflicts with family plans, we are closing the door on a potential gateway to lacrosse achievement and excellence.
Adding to this, we worry if they don't play, they may lose touch with valued friends and ultimately feel bad about themselves not being a part of the elite team.And what is the promise of participation on a travel team or in a critical summer or fall tournament?
Do youth sport athletes really need practice five days a week, turning family dinners into a rare exception? Is this really what we think is best for our youth?I find this trend quite concerning on a number of levels. The chances that any of our children are able to use lacrosse to get into college are quite low. Approximately 5% of high school senior athletes go on to play any level of collegiate sports.
Significantly less play at the Division I level and full scholarships are very rare.And as we intuitively know, exclusive play in one sport, or, putting all your eggs in one basket, has its significant risks.
Many researchers and experts have noted that specialization before puberty can be a risk for overuse injury, burnout and stress. Yes, we can site prodigies like Tiger Woods as examples of the value of early specialization, but there are far more stories of burnout and injury, and Tiger's story hasn't had such a good chapter lately with evidence of overuse injury and poor character.Does Early Specialization Really Work?
It's debatable.Many Olympic development programs have moved away from early specialization and are looking to diversify the athletic experiences of their youth. Multiple-sport training helps strengthen the athletic range and capacities of our youth, so that when they eventually choose their desired sport, they are versatile, skilled and resilient. We have so much more to study about training and peak performance before we commit our youth to extreme, specialized training in one sport. Critical variables such as the number of hours of playing and training, rest, creative play, implicit vs. In a study we conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on minor league baseball players, the average age of specialization among these top-level athletes was approximately 16 years old. Many played football and basketball through their high school careers.I do believe that more and more collegiate-bound lacrosse players are choosing to specialize in lacrosse at younger ages, even though a lot of college coaches will say that they prefer multiple-sport athletes.

And, while many college coaches may indicate that the skill level of their recruits is higher among specialized athletes, I am not at all convinced that the college coaches are actually getting a better athletic result. Do their specialized recruits have the physical and mental fortitude to weather the challenges of long seasons? Do they stick with the program for four years, and how do they compare with the multiple sport recruits? I would like to see a study of this.Based on these arguments, one might choose to side with the multiple-sport path. More and more, college coaches are recruiting a fair number of their players based on travel team performance and tournament play.
As stated above, these travel teams and tournaments often require substantial fees and huge time commitments. Why would a travel team coach want to suggest that his or her players need to play other sports and take more time off from lacrosse?
Why would college coaches want the hundreds of youth sport athletes to attend multi-sport camps instead of their highly profitable summer camp programs?
I know there are great college coaches at all levels that really care about the personal and physical development of their players, but the strength of the specialization current is difficult to overcome, particularly when it runs counter to the profit and convenience of those who have the greatest influence.Are There Cases When Specialization Makes Sense? As parents, we might have children who love lacrosse so much that it's what they want to do all the time.
All their best friends play, the exercise is fabulous, and the fun appears to be there consistently. There may be cases, albeit few, where some children may benefit from playing the sport they love as much as possible, but it is our job as parents to keep a lookout for important variables.Are our kids getting enough sleep? Do these choices work with our family values and schedules?These are critical questions that need to be reviewed each season. Because we as parents may struggle with evaluating our children's abilities objectively, are we seeking out the advice of other parents, coaches and administrators who have no financial investment or agenda in our kids' future?Lacrosse is not a job. Very few athletes will progress to play any form of college sports, so when you make a decision with your child about specializing, ask yourself, “Does this decision make sense for my child and family, even if playing beyond high school isn't a possibility?”For those athletes who love playing multiple sports, keep playing.
For the rest of us, we can enjoy the game as a wonderful addition to a rich and balanced life.Does your youth lacrosse player specialize in lacrosse or play multiple sports?
What benefits or drawbacks have you seen in his or her youth sports experience as a result? Let us know in the comments section.This post is part of the “10 Fundamental Tips for Coaching Youth Lacrosse” series.

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