Friday, June 25, 2010


My son had Lacrosse performance training today, and as I sat there and watched the coach put the small group of boys through their paces I started wondering (as usual) if any of this could be applicable to the education of my dogs.

The kids sure looked like they were having fun.

Though covered in sweat and breathing hard, they all had big grins on their faces as they dodged, spun, then shot the ball into the net... or not... depending on their skill level and the parameters of the particular drill.

As much as my son loves Lacrosse, he is not the exercising-for-the-sake-of-exercising sort, so to see him working that hard and having a great time doing it is pretty rare.

Which is why I started thinking about my dogs, and the way I teach them, and wondering if it really is rather dull. Sure, there is (usually) variety in the program (the quizzes help that) and I try to keep the repetitions short (although they don't actually seem to care one way or the other on that point, being Goldens) and there is always cookies.

Plenty of cookies.

But is it fun? Really fun? No, I don't actually think it is.

But could it be?


And then I sat there and started wondered what it was about the Lacrosse drills I saw today that "worked" for those boys? (Yes, I suppose I could ask my son, but a shrug and smile is probably all I would get. Teenagers.)

I'll spare you the deep introspection and just blurt out what I came up with:

  • Short repetitions: A dozen or more reps per drill, and then they moved on
  • Fast pace: The coach kept the boys physically moving, no time for their brains to idle or drift
  • Well Organized:  The coach had a plan and he was able to keep the program moving briskly. He gave breaks at fairly even intervals and used the time they were re-hydrating to reconfigure things for the next batch of drills, so the boys were never just standing around waiting on him.
  • Clear goals: No, not those kind of goals. The drills were easy to explain and their point was clear. The boys weren't wandering around the field looking lost.
  • Less Talk More Action: Just a few words to explain what they were doing, perhaps a brief demo, and then he let the boys loose to try it.
  • Competitive: Lacrosse is a sport, played against an opponent, so competition is obviously built into the game, but the coach was clever and interspersed competitive drills throughout - and what boy can resist that?
  • Cooperation: Two against one drills, and having all three working together to accomplish something kept things congenial - important when they all came from different (competitive) high schools and all were carrying big "sticks".
  • Positive, immediate feedback: If they did well, he told them. If they did poorly, he showed or explained to them what went wrong and how to do better next time.
I'm not sure how I'm going to fold this into the education of my boys, but I'm going to try. It was just too positive an experience to ignore.

Stay tuned to see what I come up with!


katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

yay! Hurry and figure out how all this fits in for our pups it is great stuff. I was thinking about fast paced-for us this could really be helpful cause I sort of get lost in between sessions figuring out what to do next so if I had more fun and games in between and kept it moving I think it would really help me!

If it would be okay can I put some thought into these ideas and their application? If it s ok i would maybe like to link to or quote the ideas?

BZ Dogs said...

Think away!

I actually tried a simple change tonight based on what I learned. I'll try to post on it tomorrow, but initial results looks promising.