BY DALLAS SMITH
WINNIPEG, Manitoba—Last week marked the beginning of the NCAA Division I Lacrosse season. On Thursday, Furman battled the University of Vermont, which resulted in a 13-12 OT victory for the Catamounts in overtime. Saturday featured eight more games, and Super Bowl Sunday had two additional games. This coming week will see the vast majority of teams begin their season. The second week of the season begins with a Tuesday matchup between Johns Hopkins and Navy at 4:00 pm (CST) followed by twenty games on Saturday.
The expansion of NCAA lacrosse and individual schools streaming services has enabled individuals worldwide to watch some of the preeminent lacrosse on the planet. In Manitoba, we are somewhat impoverished as we only have one team, the Manitoba Blizzard, who regularly competes at a high-level, and even then they play many of their games outside the province. Compare this to New York, where you can drive an hour and a half in any direction and most likely find a school that has either Division I or Division II lacrosse. Thankfully, many individual schools now provide the ability for Manitobans to stream games in the comfort of their living room.
Watching lacrosse is an often neglected portion of player and coach development. Being viewers of high-level lacrosse can grow our understanding and expose us to different styles of play. Moreover, it is even more important to be active viewers instead of passive viewers. Passive viewership is relatable to a casual sports fan. Think of passive viewership as your significant other after convincing them to watch a sports event that they are not really interested in; or as a booth commentator who only tells who what happens. They watch it, they enjoy it, but do they understand why and how something happened? Probably not.
Alternatively, active viewership is similar to the color analyst, the expert, who can break down who, what, where, and why, with ease. Alternatively, tThis is the die-hard fan that had to convince their significant other to watch the Thursday Night Football game instead of going out to dinner. Now from a healthy relationship standpoint, this may not be the most conducive behavior. However, from a player and coaches perspective, this is a very important portion of mental development. If a player or coach understands why and how something occurred, it adds to their knowledge base, it expands their repertoire of skills. Seeing and understanding the depth of the offense, defense, and the clearing game makes for more effective coaches and players.
In a day and age where the game of lacrosse changes rapidly, exposure to higher levels of play through active viewing can give nuance to a players style and to coaching styles and systems. The NCAA is the prime example of this. Over the past five years, the NCAA has made considerable changes to its rules, by implementing the shot clock, the fast restart, and the quick whistles, which has drastically altered the game. As a result, many coaches and players have had to rapidly adapt to the changing climate. The online NCAA games are a great resource for our coaches and players seeking to grow their knowledge of the game.
Visit Inside Lacrosse Calendar for the NCAA Lacrosse Schedule and Streaming Links.
Check out the Manitoba Blizzard here in Winnipeg for Manitoba’s Highest-Level of Lacrosse.
Visit our Coaching Resources Page for more general coaching information.