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Interview with Andrew Stimmel, Yale Lacrosse Director of Player Development/Assistant Coach

GP: Do all of our readers out there a favor and tell us a little about yourself, your athletic background, and your coaching experience?
AS: Hey guys! My name is Andrew Stimmel & I’m a 2006 graduate of Franklin Regional. I played college lacrosse at Ohio State University where If was a Defensive MVP, captain and Major League Lacrosse draft pick. Currently, I’m an assistant coach and the Director of Player Development at Yale University where I work with our midfielders, defensive personnel and goalies.

GP: What drew you to coaching after your collegiate career came to an end?
AS: I think I always enjoyed coaching; I just don’t know if I realized I wanted to make it my profession until my 5th year at OSU where I was able to act in a GA role for Ohio State. That year made me realize what I was truly passionate about; mentoring and teaching. Coaching at this level is a fully integrated approach not just limited to on the field strategy but dedicated to the total person development. We see these kids every day for 3-4 hours (sometimes more) so we have a tremendous opportunity to impact their future as leaders of the workplace, community and their families.

GP: Now that you’re in the collegiate setting as a coach, what are some things you see athletes struggling with in regards to physical preparation?
AS: Physical preparation is our number one goal in the offseason and also one of the biggest things we preach to our incoming freshman. If our guys are out of shape and lacking the necessary conditioning/strength to play at full speed, they don’t participate. The risks for injury are too high and it’s simply unproductive for their individual development. The lack of physical preparation with our incoming guys is usually pretty obvious; inflexible athletes who are fundamentally unprepared for the speed and physicality of the college game.

GP: We often need to have the conversation with prospective clients about the whole idea of “not playing sports to get fit, but rather being fit in order to play sports”. How often do you see this play out in your experience? How much attention do you give to general physical preparation prior to the onset of the competitive season?
AS: I can understand at a younger age parents wanting their kids to participate in sports to get fit and stay active; it’s a great way to achieve those things as well as foster the concepts of teamwork and work ethic. However, as kids get bigger, stronger and faster, that type of player is being put at a huge disadvantage that can easily lead to injury. It is imperative to have some type of intentionality to physical preparation prior to your competitive season not only to perform at a high level, but prevent injury.

GP: Taking those questions and thoughts and expanding on them, what training tactics, systems, or methods do you see most coaches and trainers utilizing that are hurting their athletes more than helping them?
AS: With the exponential growth of the sport of Lacrosse over the last 15-20 years, there is a large group of people trying to capitalize in the industry. A few of the tactics, systems and methods I’ve seen that I don’t really believe have any positive impact and may actually hurt athletes are:

1)    Any weighted “lacrosse specific” exercise. Probably one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever seen. Why are we going to strap a 20lb weight vest to a 10 year old who can’t properly execute the skill or physical mechanics as is? The best way to shoot harder as a young player is to learn the proper mechanics and execute it properly during your practice time.

2)    Any banded/weighted/resistance exercise specific to running technique or footwork. I’m not completely against resistance methodology that add bands to weights or certain exercises for top level athletes; college athletes or professional athletes who are physically prepared to execute fundamental movements properly with the added load. However, when you see younger kids working predominately with bands when, again, they can’t execute a proper body weight squat, proper running technique or transfer weight properly during change of direction, it’s hurting them more than helping them.

GP: Several of our readers are parents of young athletes. From your perspective as an accomplished athlete and collegiate coach, if you were a parent of a young athlete what specifically would you be looking for in a trainer/strength coach/physical preparation coach? 
As a parent of a young athlete I would be looking for someone who is going to be honest about what my kid needs to be doing right now. If he’s a young athlete, don’t sell me on training him like a professional athlete; train him like a teenager. Get him basics first; proper movement techniques, foundational strength, correct deficiencies that could lead to injuries and maybe more serious things in the future. As a parent, it’s easy to get attracted to weight room numbers. However, what does it mean if those numbers don’t produce a better athlete on the field? Bodybuilders care how much you bench; college coaches care how you perform on the field. That’s what I’m looking for as a parent!

Thank you Andrew for taking the time to share your thoughts and insights from the experience you have gained not only as athlete, but now as a coach and the role you take on in player development. We hope our readers find this as informative as we do!

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Thursday, May 30, 2024

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