Teaching the ART at Renegade Lacrosse
By: Hoch Cho
I’ve started a program called ART to teach skills that will lead to an IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENT in PERFORMANCE! Renegade newsletters will feature guest writers covering a variety of topics including tried and true skill techniques, drill ideas, video lessons, and more. Providing resources and strategies for coaches, players, and parents, we want to improve your game, by playing games, and have fun along the way! We’ll start with a guest article from a friend and advisor, Hoch Cho.
Introduction to ART!
I remember first playing lacrosse and really struggling with catching the ball. My coach gave me a girl’s stick. “Use your wrist to catch,” he said and showed me how to give with my wrist. “The girls stick will force you to do it right so practice with it.” It was amazing the difference. I went from barely playing to starting in just a couple weeks. Getting better so quickly inspired me to practice on my own against the wall. Later I started for four years on a dominant boy’s varsity team that sent several players to D1 programs including my goalie who won a National Championship at Princeton.
Today I marvel at how my coach knew what the quickest way to improve my game was and how to teach it to me. Without that bit of knowledge and encouragement right then I might've given up on sport and certainly wouldn’t have practiced as much as I did. When I asked him about it years later, he called it ART.
Small things that make you better immediately that you only know because you learned it from a more experienced player. If you look at youth sports today, one of the main reasons why our kids stop playing is a lack of ART. It’s easy to quit when you’re not getting better. It's no fun to be in the game and never touch the ball the entire season or conversely to be the dominant player in U12 and then find that all the things that used to work for you (the mad dash up the field against slower players) no longer seems to work in U14. Those are the girls that eventually quit the sport.
That's why I was lucky to meet Coach Holly. I'd been on a quixotic quest to find a great coach for my daughter and knew during the first clinic with her that I had found the One at last. Coach Holly taught cradling and one of the girls couldn’t do it and got very frustrated. Coach Holly came over, looked at her stick and then switched sticks with her. I asked later why she did that, and she said it was one of those sticks with no leathers. “Even Taylor Cummings would’ve had a hard time cradling with that one,” she said. The girl immediately was able to cradle and finished that exercise with a smile on her face. Coach Holly had realized that it was the equipment that was holding back the girl’s performance. That’s ART.
Later while teaching a dodge and shoot, Coach Holly stopped a player whose shot wasn’t fast or accurate and showed her the correct footwork. She’d been shooting with her wrong foot forward. It’s not surprising since the most popular Youtube video that teaches how to throw has the feet set incorrectly. As Coach Holly walked her through the footwork with the ball and stick, I could see all the rookies in the line mimicking the moves. The diagram on the right shows the correct footwork for a rightie shot. When they started shooting again, the ball was noticeably popping and of the forty or so shots they took, I even heard 2 bounce off the posts. Again ART.
ART is diagnosing a player’s strengths and weaknesses and knowing how to get the maximum improvement with the least amount of effort. ART is knowing how to speak to a player in a way so they’ll listen. ART is using that hard-won street cred and spending it to inspire the player to practice on their own. Being able to do that little bit that creates an immediate jump in performance helps create a virtuous cycle in which the player continuously improves.
Over the last year, it’s been my pleasure to watch Coach Holly build a youth program here in Orange County. She’s had some help from some superb assistant coaches including players from her high school team. My daughter loves the older girls. Several of them are committed to play at D1 programs at places like Harvard, UPenn and Hopkins. Most importantly they watch and stop a girl here and change her footwork and stop a girl there and change the grip on the stick and then you see the performance immediately improve. It’s hard enough to teach ART yourself, much less to have the organizational skills to teach your assistant coaches to teach ART.
I’m proud that Coach Holly has asked me to volunteer as an Advisor to her program. I still remember the first House League scrimmage a year or so ago when I watched a pack of 10-year old girls chasing a ground ball all over the field. It looked more like a hockey game than lacrosse. The most recent House League was a brisk November night that only happens in southern California (all you East Coast folks in the gray and snow should be envious). Some of the girls had been complaining of the cold earlier but all of them had thrown off their sweatshirts and light jackets after an hour of playing and they ended the night with fifteen minutes where everyone was spaced out and the ball was in the air most of the time with the girls stringing three and four and even five pass combinations together before shooting. It looked like a miniature version of a college lacrosse game.
The night finally ended with Coach Holly talking to a mom who had some questions about the sport, and Coach Kelly with her hand on a girl’s shoulder listening intently. Coach Maddie was teaching my daughter a dodge. Coach Campbell was laughing while a couple girls were showing off some stick tricks they’d been practicing. Coach Niki was helping a pair of middle school girls carry a goal back to where it came from. A sassy girl was trying her best to teach her helpless dad how to catch and throw. I heard a first time player say as she left with her parents, “When’s the next one start? I can’t wait to play lacrosse again.”
That night was the perfect embodiment of Coach Holly’s Mission Statement:
For athletes, coaches, and parents, Renegade makes lacrosse all about playing the game again. Let's build a relationship to teach you the ART and elevate your performance immediately. No matter where you live or what stage of the game you're in, our video, picture and verbal lessons will help you improve
I) Body Positioning
IV) X's and O's
Will you come play the game with us?
We hope to see you between the lines on the green field. Thank you!
Lacrosse dad, enthusiast, player, and writer!
Hyonmyong (Hoch) Cho grew up in inner city Chicago playing pickup basketball, back alley football and stickball. He learned lacrosse at the Groton School where he started for four years as a leftie defenseman for Coach Tom Degray. He was also a three-year varsity player on the football team as a running back and outside linebacker for Coach Jake Congleton. They were both legendary coaches and leaders who won championships despite being at small schools by teaching ART. Hoch attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where he was a Morehead Scholar. He most recently coached both boys and girls youth lacrosse teams at The Waterford School in Utah.