Make your own free website on Tripod.com
CLUB LACROSSE ROSTER MANAGEMENT

First and foremost, any lacrosse team is really
all about people. It is they who will help determine
just how far your team goes.

For post-collegiate club lacrosse (aka po-co club)
your roster will likley be filled with people who
are out of school and in the work force. Many have families,
most (I hope) have jobs or careers. The important thing to
understand is that for many of these people, lacrosse is
NOT the first or second most important thing in their
lives. You must always keep that in mind. If you have
that down-pat, then your 50% of the way there.

Over the years, I've heard many people explain that the
reason for the demise of a certain team was "lack of numbers".
Actually, lack of numbers is NEVER the reason a club team
fails. Lack of numbers is a SYMPTOM, not a core reason.
If other things are taken care of, then the numbers take
care of themselves.

On this page we will examine how the numbers work in different
situations, and how to get the numbers to work for you, not
you for it. In addition, we'll present some recruiting ideas-
all of which work if tried.

The Numbers Game

Over the years I've come to understand just how numbers
are supposed to work for club teams in large cities. I'll
address these first, then move onto smaller cities.

I've always kept a big roster. I've always done this
because I always wanted to give myself a chance to succeed.
I also realize that ceratin percentages tend to play themselves
out during the course of the season.

Here is what I have found:

My target roster size is 40. These are the guys who have
TOLD ME they were interested and are placed on the phone
and email lists.

From that 40, I KNOW that 75% of those people will show
up to at least one practice and/or game, in others words-
participate.

Now we're at 30. From these 30, my experience has shown me
that, on average, approximately 66% of these will turn out
for home or in-city games.

Also from this 30, my experience has shown me that approximately
half of these will make it to a road game, which is typically
for us a day trip. 

So, while I've gotten a lot of grief from people about suiting
up 20 for home games and having 15 when we go on the road, it
is only because I adhere exactly to this formula.

Of course, there will be variations. Sometimes we'll have less
on a certain day, sometimes more. But these numbers tend
to be very credible ON AVERAGE.

Now, for a team that struggles to get ten out every week, 
having a roster of 40 might seem like a pipe dream. In fact,
I've known club leaders in the past who were actually AFRAID
of recruiting large numbers because they thought they would be
recruiting themselves out of playing time! Hogwash.

HENCE, THE NEED FOR AN ASSIGNED COACH

No head coach wants a crummy record. In addition, being a coach
can be a lonely thing when you're standing alone on the sideline
because all ten of your people are on the field.

I understand how difficult it is to find an individual who can
act as head coach only. Many choose to ply their trade in the
high school or college ranks. 

Still, even if its a player-coach situation, it is EXTREMELY
important that you name a clear and visible head coach. Some
assigned assistants work well also.

Here's why:

The head coach will be the most enthusiastic about recruiting.
He won't want to look bad, so he'll make those extra efforts
needed to find those extra players. How many defensemen would be
eager to go out and find an extra 5-6 longsticks for their team?
Not many. A coach would, though.

Also, for the sake of organizational discipline, every team
NEEDS a person who is untimately responsible for the on-field
performance of the club.

You don't need a lacrosse genius (are there any?). You simply 
need a reasonably competant person who will take ultimate
responsibility for the performance of the team, and who will
likewise assume some of the credit for that performance.

SMALLER CITY TEAMS

Now that I've digressed onto the need for a coach, let's
quickly examine how that formula works for a club operating out
of a smaller city.

Personally, I don't think you need a roster of 40 if you're
based in Victoria or Galveston. The reason 40 is required in
large cities is because places like Houston and San Antonio are
spread out. These players might live in the same metropolitan
area, but they might be 25 miles from the field and 50 miles
from each other! There is often a great deal more that is
making demands on their time. Hence, the need for a bigger
roster.

In smaller cities, you might actually be able to get your
players together for practice during the week, provided
everyone lives fairly close. If the field is only a quick
10-minute drive for them, then your turnout PERCENTAGES
should play out to be higher.

So, rather than the need for 40, you might just need 30.
From that 30, you might have 25 who show up to participate,
17-20 for home games, possibly 13-15 for day trips. You get
the picture.

So, as you go about determining your roster requirements
you must take note of where you are.

Roster Management

Once you've gotten your numbers in place, how you
manage that roster on a month-by-month basis is
very important.

Sadly, for most people their idea of long-range
thinking is about one month. Also, their usable
historical perspective is about one month back as well.
A club leader that learns from history- real history-
AND keeps a long-range perspective in terms of years
and decades, not weeks and months, will quickly
find himself outdistancing the competition on many
fronts.

At Metro, the recruiting doors are always open. 
During the season I expect a certain amount of attrition
from jobs, injuries, family commitments, etc. I'll
need new people to throw into the fray.

In addition, at the end of each season I EXPECT to
lose 50% of my team in the offseason for one reason or
another. By May, I'm already building my team for the
next year.

One of the most painful things for me to hear is some
team crying to me about losing players over the summer
and that in September they don't know if they'll
have enough to field a team in January. Basically, that's
the reward for sitting on their butts for six months.
Historically, no team in my region loses more talent each
offseason than Metro. Period. In some years you could build
a winner just with those we've lost. Regardless of their player
losses, none compare to ours.

The difference is that I expect it to happen, plan for it
to happen, prepare for it to happen, and execute accordingly.
Others let it happen, regret that it happened, and then blame
me for what happened and throw their hands up saying
"It can't be done!" Then they say the whole thing is fixed,
and on and on it goes.

Over the years I've heard it all.

When I do hear it, I try to stay positive for their sake. I
tell them they can turn it around. Inside, though, I know
I'm talking to a team that simply didn't prepare for the
inevitable.

I've often said that I recruit as hard in June as I do in
December, which isn't very hard. It's just consistent, that's
all. Just a little bit of effort twelve months out of the year
so I don't have to go through a panic attack every December
and January.

So, in sum.....PLAN ON ATTRITION. It's a FACT OF LIFE!



Recruiting Techniques

There are as many techniques for recruiting as there are
ways of interacting with people. I've always LOVED
recruiting! It's not like I'm selling them a cemetary
plot. I'm inviting them to come out and play a sport
they love. How hard is it really?

Still, I'll go over some of the basic recruiting techniques
that I've employed:

NEWSPAPER/MAGAZINE POSTINGS: This is the equivalent of keeping
several fishing lines in the water at all times, just in case.
Many mags have a calendar section or place where different
teams and events can place posts for free. Its amazing how
many teams DON'T do this. Over the years, I've gotten many
fine players from this, usually one every few weeks or so.
It takes as much time as it does to send a fax.

WEBSITE: Again, like a fishing line in the water, only this
one has "live" bait. Many times players moving to Houston
took the time to check our website, and this prompted them
to call. Now, I'm not a great website designer. Our site is
not fancy. But, its current.

HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE ALUMNI LISTS: Many high school and college teams
publish lists on the internet. Many others keep such a list
for their annual alumni games. I've often been surprised at
just how many players have been churned out by these teams
over the last 10-20 years, and how few of them are actively 
playing club lacrosse. Many would, if a team showed enough
interest to contact them. This source is heavily overlooked.

FORMER/DEFUNCT TEAMS: Sometimes when a team goes defunct many
of their players leave the game. Usually, its because the 
reason for that team's failure also soured them on the sport.
All that many of these guys need is a fresh start. Try to find
lists from old teams. I'm sure you'll find some players still
willing and able to contribute.

PERSONAL REFERRALS: This one is the best by a long shot. Every
time I recruit a player, I ask who else he knows that plays or
did play once before. I ask about high school, college, and
club teammates and friends. Once you get them thinking in those
terms, you'll be surprised at how many guys they bring up. I once
got the names of TWELVE former teammates from one player, and
many still lived in town! Usually, you'll get 2-3, on average.
So, if you recruit 12 people, the fastest way to get to 30-40
is by PERSONAL REFERRAL. The strength of this also is that
these players already know each other, so their on-field 
learning curve is much shorter. This needs to be a part of
every team's recruiting vernacular.

BOOTHS AT MALLS/PUBLIC PLACES: Quite possibly the fastest
method for rapidly increasing your numbers is this one. Simply
arrange with a local mall to set up a well-organized booth
and display, along with lacrosse gear, hand-outs, etc.
Have a video tape of lacrosse running at all times. You
will be visited by players, former players, future players,
wives of players, girlfriends of players, sisters of
players, and anyone else interested. It is not unlikley that
within a 4-hour period, on a Saturday, you will pick up
at least a dozen new prospects. Two Saturdays, then your
numbers can double. This one is a no-brainer.

SUMMER LEAGUE LISTS: Certain people involved with various
summer leagues have summer league registration lists going
back years. Even youth and high school-level lists are
good since many of the young players from years past are
worthy recruiting targets now. Once you have such lists
it will take a little time to go through them, make some
phone calls, and track people down. However, if you're
not immune to making phone calls its an easy way to pick
up some players.

ROOKIES: These guys are fun. God love em. Guys in their 20's
or even 30's who want to pick up the sport for the first time.
They can be found anywhere, and are often obtained by referral,
flyer, or newspaper posting. We've welcomed many like this
at Metro over the years. Many stick with it, and some have
even become high school coaches! They're a great way to add
numbers to your program, and they're a necessity in small
cities.

At ALL times be positive. Be certain about what you're doing.
That's what people will follow.

WHAT NOT TO DO: COMMON MISTAKES

There are certain things I avoid when recruiting:

1) STAY AWAY FROM THE "C" WORD- That's "COMMITMENT" to you
and me. Club players already make commitments to their 
families, jobs, churches, etc. Another commitment is the 
LAST thing they need. What I try to do is "invite" them, 
"welcome" them. I only ask for the time they can give, then 
I honor that time by doing the best I can for them. If you 
work the numbers formula described above, you don't need any
"commitments" from anyone anyways. Lead with a carrot and
not a stick.

2) NEVER TARGET ANOTHER TEAM'S PLAYERS- Not only is this
illegal in the GCLA, but even if it wasn't, it would be in
extremely bad taste. ALWAYS respect the sovereignty of another
team- EVEN IF THAT TEAM IS STRUGGLING. You need to give them
a chance to succeed. Rule of thumb: Treat other teams as you
would want them to treat yours. I have NEVER known a team
that succeeded when using this tactic. All have failed because
they failed to do the RIGHT things in managing their rosters.
Over the years several teams have targeted another as a means
of coming up with their intial roster. They've all failed.
I've actually known club leaders who actively worked for the
demise of other teams as a means of picking up their players.

3) MERGERS NEVER WORK- This is one dead-cinch certainty in
club lacrosse. Over the years many have tried, with the best
of intentions, to merge two struggling teams into one good
one. Well, it sounds good at first glance, which is about all
the thought that usually goes into it. The thought of taking
one team with 9-10 guys, and merging it with another team of
10-11 guys, would give you a solid team with 19-21 guys! That's
how it should work. However, in every case I have seen over the
years, those 21 guys have quickly eroded back down to 9-11.
The same inattentive leadership that CAUSED the problems in
the first place is then inflicted upon the combined team.
So now you no longer have 2 struggling teams, you have just one.
Plus, you've got enough "jaded" free agents who will be
extremely reluctant to come back to the game.

OVER-RELIANCE ON HAND-OUTS: I have given away far more
players than I have kept over the years. By handing some club
team ten player leads, chances are a few of them will
work out, and that club will manage to skate by, for a time.
However, any list of prospects a team gets from me will
probably not be as strong a group as one they recruit for
themselves.

After examining these common mistakes, doesn't it make
a whole lot more sense to just get it right in the first place?
Usually, "leaders" who resort to these mistakes time and
again fail, time and again.