A chat with Lee Vickery, 2016 U19 Men's Head Coach
What experience do you bring to the role as Head Coach of the Under 19 Men's Australian Lacrosse Team?
I have a long and varied history of coaching that has seen me coach every grade from Under 11 boys to Men's League lacrosse over the past 16 years, as well as a handful of girls and women’s teams. I have coached at both a National and Club level and I have represented South Australia in national competitions in every junior and senior grade.
Academically I have a Master's Degree in Management from the University of Adelaide and have a particular interest in issues surrounding leadership and motivation.
I believe the strength of the leadership group is far greater than the Head Coach of a team and extends to the fantastic group of Squad Coaches who have generously dedicated their time to this process to see Australian lacrosse return to the top. This group of coaches is made up of some of the best coaches in Australia and the US and encompasses a great deal of international experience including 4 silver medals at the Senior Men's World Championships.
What is your vision for the Under 19 Men's team?
My vision for the U19 Australian Men's Team in 2016 is to see it return Australian lacrosse to the podium. Additionally, my overall goal is to see the standard of lacrosse played in this age group improve across the nation.
How do you believe you can improve on previous year's performances / what do you believe your point of difference is as Head Coach of the team?
We are taking a fairly different approach with this campaign, as opposed to previous U19 campaigns, and are seeking to develop EVERY player in the squad for at least a 12-18 month period before the squad is reduced. This means training with larger squads in each state that can run more game like practices, which is more beneficial for both the individual players and the team itself. We are also fortunate to have an additional 6 months preparation time with this campaign, than the previous U19 team, so we can really take our time with this very important 'foundation' step!
A key focus of the program will be to deliver EVERY player with a balanced preparation that focuses on the physical, technical and mental aspects of preparation for the U19 World Championships.
A noticeable deficiency of Australian lacrosse over the past decade has been our failure to finish good shot opportunities; so players can expect shooting to be a key focus. Face off development will also be integral as we need first use of the ball more often at this level and we have been fortunate enough to enlist the skills of Matthew Schomburg, one of the best face off coaches in the world to help us out in this area from the word go.
But our main focus point will be meticulous planning and preparation. I am a compulsive planner and leave little to chance, which means when we leave for the 2016 World Championships we will be ready!!!
What skills do you believe are essential for a player to be successful in an Australian team?
Players wishing to compete at U19 international level will need to be accomplished ambidextrous players with tight, clean stick work that stands up under pressure. A healthy desire for the ball and strong, aggressive groundball skills are also essential.
Strong footwork and athleticism are also a highly desirable attributes. Players also need to possess a high level of game sense and understanding and be able to react to situations quickly and calmly.
The unexplainable X factor is also a highly desirable attribute that we are hoping to identify in players.
What type of person are you looking to coach?
People who are willing to accept constructive advice and implement suggestions to improve their game. We also want players who are dedicated to their own development but place the team before themselves.
As a coaching group we recognise that every player is different and brings to us a different skill set, so we want to develop EVERY player to their full potential; but to do this we need the players to remain committed to their own development. As long as we receive this commitment the entire squad will improve and Australian lacrosse will greatly benefit.