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A Few Thoughts on 2015 US Lacrosse Convention

A Few Thoughts on 2015 US Lacrosse Convention

Joe Rice

The lacrosse community descended on Baltimore this past weekend for the annual convention. I attended both Friday and Saturday, took part in many of the speaker talks as well as visited the exhibit hall. For the first time in a few years, Kudda was not a vendor as the exhibiting fee has increased so much that smaller companies can not afford to be there. Plus the Convention Center there in Baltimore requires unions to move vendors in and out, thus adding to the expenses. So this year, I went as a coach to see what the general trends were in coaching. Here are a few candid observations.

Overall, I felt that attendance was very low although US Lacrosse announced record attendance? Wonder how many no-shows there were as it felt empty there.  Maybe the Convention Hall was too big as to give that feeling of being empty?  The vendor village seemed smaller this year as well? Certainly the forecast of snow hampered some coaches from traveling.

The focus of my choices for speakers were mostly about coaching kids, not necessarily about X’s and O’s. There were a lot of X’s and O’s sessions but I was looking for more general sessions of stuff coaches do “outside” the lines. Several of the sessions were on Practice Planning and getting the most out of a practice session. Unfortunately these sessions all had disconnected drills and random drills. Number One comment every single coach said was that they play an up tempo, fast pace, high pressured style. OK…here’s a question, does anyone admit to playing a slow deliberate methodical boring style? I guess everybody is a transition focused team? Nevertheless I was disappointed that every single coach who shared their practice plans had limited progressions, buildups and sequencing. Instead of progression of skills, their practices were ways to handle various game situations. The only coach that had an inkling of building progressions that I saw was Matt Hogan’s presentation on the Demo Field where he started his players doing one drill and built up on that by adding options, more players and slowly adding defenders. He did a wonderful job and taking the parts and building them into the whole. There was a definite sequencing of skills all originating from a simple split dodge from up top with 3 offensive players. Well done Coach Hogan!

My favorite presentation of the weekend was by Jessy Morgan from George Mason University on defense. Now granted she was in the same time slot as US National Coach Ricky Fried on the Demo Field and the same time as  Jen Adams of Loyola covering advance tactics for offense. Tough competition, especially for something more sexy than defense. However, Coach Morgan packed the room and her presentation was high energy, entertaining and appealed to coaches of all areas. She did a great job of balancing the basics with highly advanced concepts. I’m sensing that next year US lacrosse will be giving here one of the larger rooms to present as she is getting quit a following.

As far as the vendor village, there didn’t seem to be any new innovative products. There were the uniform folks, the team website folks, the lax bros with stringing options, destination trips, tournaments, equipment dealers…typical exhibits. Nothing that really stood out.(Now I will admit that I am a little skewed as part of my disappointment stems from recently returning from the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas)

I would be very interested in seeing how US Lacrosse spins this weekend’s convention. Was attendance truly down and did they not get the number of walkup attendees? Maybe they should reconsider how much they are charging the coaches as the fee has gone from $25 to over $130 in the last few years. But the profiting off coaches by US Lacrosse…save that for another article.



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