Check out this recent question from a concerned parent...
Read an article on your blog and have a real scenario and inquiry for you. My son is in 8th grade with one year experience playing LAX. He is middle level compared to the other players. He made the school team(8th grade, 7th grade, couple of 6th graders) for a total of 18 boys. He has attended every practice(and has been practicing at home). My son was dressed and ready for the first game(with no reasons not to play), but I watched my son stand for 4 quarters on the sidelines, not having played one second of that game. The coach played his choice of players, little rotation, but again my son, was not assigned by the coach to play in the game.
This is a huge problem nationally at this level. I recently polled the top coaches and lacrosse minds in my database the following question:
1. in your opinion what should is the most important element of a middle school lacrosse program?
to teach players technique and how to play the game correctly 87.5%
to be highly competitive and develop a winning attitude 0.0%
to have fun and make friends 2.5%
to be a feeder program for JV and Varsity programs 10%
0% said wins and being highly competitive was important.
I have coached the U15 level for over a decade. My organization's and my personal philosophy is that playing time is way more important than wins at this level.
I have had 2 sons go through a middle school program. One is 20 and a college player now. What the coach may not know, is the kids don't remembers wins, scores, games, or even coaches for that matter when they get older.
They do remember being benched, being humiliated by coaches, and feeling horrible about not getting on the field. Its the MS coaches job to teach the game and create a love of the game, in my humble opinion.
Playing only a few kids will create the opposite. We carry 23-25 per team and get them all in. In big games we double shift first lines, when playing lesser opponents we bench the first line guys. They are the athletes and have thick skin. If anyone can handle some time off its the gold line guys.
One of my tricks of the trade is I assign newer players to experienced players. The 'captains" are responsible for mentoring the new guys. They have to answer to the coach about the progress of younger a new guys progress. It creates am inclusive atmosphere. Now players learn a teaching role, leadership, and take pride in the progress of "their guy". They no longer feel excluded.
I personally never want to be remembered as a the coach who benched kids or had a win at all cost mentality. What your coach may not know is that will be his legacy.
What happens is kids start believe that standing on a sideline all game while first line players have fun is what the game of lacrosse is all about. Its NOT.
The most important kids on a team are the ones that can't. Its our job as coaches to find out where they can. The game has so many positions that can be utilized by a coach to get kids in. Face offs, wings on face offs, defensive midfield, man down team, man up team, long stick midfielder, crease attack, back up goalie, etc.
The only exception is if a coach, organization, or team explains to all parents and players BEFORE the season they are focusing on wins alone, and that equal playing time will not be addressed,then its the parents and players choice to be part of that and decide.