Bill Tierney gives recruits great insight and advice in a recent Q&A with Laxpower‘s Mike Baldassare.
Tierney coached Princeton to a 2-13 record in 1988, and went on to win 6 National Championships in the following two decades with that program.
To read the entire Q&A with Coach Tierney on the Laxpower site click here.
Q: How do you maintain accountability with your players on and off the field?
I think the key to this is earning your player’s trust and respect and them doing the same with you. When student-athletes come to your office and you are there to talk, experience an organized great practice, see a game plan come to fruition, or hear you talk about an opponent after hours and hours of watching film, they know you are working hard for them.
When they do well on their school work, stay out of trouble, work hard to get better individually, care about one another, and play with all their ability, you know they are working hard for you. This leads to the players, even in the roughest of times after a bad loss or after they don’t play quite as much as they think they should, maintaining an honorable decorum both on and off the field.
Q: What tactics do you employ to develop your already talented recruits?
With the proliferation of early recruiting, all of us at the college level are recognizing that, oftentimes, the player we recruit isn’t quite the player we get. Therefore, we try very quickly to evaluate what the strengths and weaknesses of a young man are as soon as they arrive on campus.
It is the head coach’s job to help develop that player by identifying and giving him the tools necessary to improve his individual skills. If it’s footwork, strength, stick skills, motivation, or academic issues, we must be there for our players to give them the guidance necessary for great results. We must also be able to adjust the jigsaw puzzle of available talent each year.
Graduation and matriculation bring great changes to a program each year, and something I personally continue to try to improve on – adjusting to different pieces of the puzzle instead of having them fit into your mold or system makes for better results and more competition for the players.
Q: When evaluating current and prospective players for you program, what are the five most important characteristics you look for in a player?
Again going back to how early we are recruiting now, lacrosse skill and athleticism cannot be the only traits you look for in a young man. Recruiting 16-year-olds is clearly not an exact science, and the risk we take in grabbing the top players is that they a) may not grow or progress, b) may stop working hard, c) may have some character flaws that don’t show up as they used to, when we had a longer time to get to know a recruit and his family.
Therefore, of course we are looking for stick skills, athleticism, speed, experience, and lacrosse IQ. We must, however, be much more cognizant of character, integrity, academic credibility, unselfishness, being team-oriented, and the desire to get better. With the thousands of high school graduates coming to college each year, being lucky might just be the most important recruiting aspect of all.
Q: What advice would you give to high school players interested in playing lacrosse at the next level in college?
What I love about lacrosse is that people of all ages, sizes, and skill levels can enjoy it. So, the most important skills are stick skills. Throwing, catching, shooting, and picking up ground balls can be learned and improved on with a lot of hard work. Like basketball, lacrosse skills can be mastered while working on your own. That is why there are some small, slow, skinny, but great lacrosse players out there. Anyone willing to put the time in can become great with the stick.
Of course, to play at higher levels, we are looking for the better athletes in high school lacrosse to come to our team. Therefore, playing other sports, working out in the weight room, extra conditioning, and studying the game will help them rise above the rest as they compete to become a first-class player.
Here are some highlights from Denver’s 2010 season.