Tag: Willie Cromack

WYC 081 – Building Culture – John Doss talks building a program with awesome culture

John just finished his first year as the the Brownsburg Lacrosse High School Head Coach after 2 years as the 7th/8th grade coach.  John played collegiate lacrosse as a goalie at San Jose State University. He was named a West Coast Lacrosse League (WCLL) All-Star 3 times.  Coach Doss also played 3 years of post-collegiate lacrosse with San Francisco Lacrosse Club and still remains active as a player with DOGS Lacrosse in Indianapolis.

John previously joined us in WYC Episode 52, but I asked him to join us again to share the awesome ways he has built an incredible culture into his program.

Twitter: @laxcoachdoss

Websites: brownsburglacrosse.comindyelitelacrosse.com


Listen Now:

Listen on iTunes: iTunes link

Listen on Stitcher: Stitcher link

Listen on Google Play Music: Google Play link

Starting a High School program

  • Communication
    • High school kids don’t check email much – so you might have to text or use a social media group
    • Own it – if the kids aren’t understanding something, that’s on me, not them
  • Everything starts with trust – ‘Build a relationship so strong that it bears the weight of honesty’

Mission 2 Assist

  • How do you have kids value assists as much as goals?
  • John used system described by Willie Cromack in WYC Episode 63:
    • John worked with 3 of the team captains to let them take ownership of it
    • They partnered with an adaptive sports wheelchair lacrosse program
    • They used the walk-a-thon type forms to fundraise – but used assists as the pledge criteria
    • By the end of the season they have raised almost $10k for that organization
    • Link to Go Play Better: GoPlayBetter.com

Culture and pre-game routine

  • They have helmet stickers with 3 chain links. In their pre game they link arms and talk about how strong a chain is and how they are there to play for the person on their right and left
  • The second part of their pre-game routine they share with each other what they are grateful for
  • The final thing they do is visualize, as specifically as possible, the success they are going to have in the game

Post-game talks & the 24 Hour Rule

  • John has converted the 24 hour rule that he uses with parents (parents don’t talk to me about issues for at least 24 hours after a game)- he now uses that same rule to not point out issues to his players immediately after the game. They usually aren’t in the mindset to listen or learn, so he saves it for the next practice.

Communicating with players – the ‘0 for 2’ Rule

  • When communicating instructions from the sideline – be careful not to go 0 for 2 – meaning your communication had a negative tone, and had no instructional value. Yelling ‘play harder’ or ‘catch the ball’ are examples of 0 for 2 communication.

Free Play Saturdays

  • This summer John is telling parents they can drop off their kids from 4 to 6 every Saturday and there will be pick-up games. Their will be 2 or 3 coaches there to make sure everyone is staying safe, but other than they the coaches are staying out of the way and letting the kids figure out teams, resolve arguments, pretty much do everything themselves. This is great not only for developing their skills, but it also teaches them conflict resolution and many other great life skills.

Parting Advice

  • John asked one of his kids: ‘If I told you that if you practiced wall-ball for 25 minutes 3 times per week that I would guarantee you start and play 100% of the time next season, would you do it?’ – The kid answered ‘Yes’, then John asked him ‘Then why aren’t you doing that now?’ John uses this challenge to let kids know that things in life aren’t guaranteed, but if you prepare with the mindset that you are going to outwork your competition, most of the time you are going to have great success

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WYC 063 – Youth Soccer – Willie Cromack talks creating Better People, Better Players via ‘Go Play Better’

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What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Willie Cromack shares stories and discusses his journey to becoming a successful youth sports coach.

Cromack is a former collegiate soccer player who left the game after college to run the family bike shop. During his time at the shop he became heavily involved in charity bike rides, raising money and awareness for everything from cancer to education to the homeless. Cromack noticed something about the participants in his charity rides. They were motivated by a higher purpose that gave them the energy and motivation to complete daunting rides. They focused on a purpose much higher than winning the race, such as raising money by completing a feat of endurance and perseverance. Most importantly, simply by completing their goal, they won! Then Cromack thought “why can’t we do this with my youth soccer team?” Thus Play Better was born.

Play Better is an online giving platform that can be run through a simple phone app. Teams create a team page that handles all the administration of charitable receipts, collects reward donations and allows supporters to leave comments or compliments for players or the team. As Cromack says, “It’s like a benevolent team Facebook page!”

website: goplaybetter.com – Watch the 3 minute video on the homepage to hear what it’s all about!

Twitter: @goplaybetter & @willcromack

Facebook: /goplaybetter

Featured article on Changing the Game Project: changingthegameproject.com/a-higher-purpose-than-winning/

Listen Now:


Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link



‘Who is going to be brave enough to try this new move during the game this week?’

Coaching your own kids

  • Boys are very different than girls.  Boys tend to be more aggressive, girls have the tendency to be more passive and be just as happy passing the ball.

My Cringe & ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments

  • Teaching is complicated.  You have to break things down to the simplest form and start with the basics.
  • Don’t coach for the result, instead coach to get the kids better.  ‘It was all about me early on.  Then I realized it was all about the kids.’

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

  • Simplicity is key
  • Skill acquisition is what keeps kids coming back – the thought they are getting better.  And sports has the quickest feedback loop to whether the kids are learning and improving.

Self-Confidence and teaching kids to achieve peak performance


  • Set goals to try a new move during a game that you have been working on in practice: ‘Who is going to be brave enough to try this new move during the game this week?’
  • Your demeanor and body language is more important than anything you say.  If you look relaxed like you could be sitting in a lounge chair on the sidelines – the kids pick up on that.

Culture – Discipline/Rewards/Teambuilding

  • Culture – The one word we are going to define our team with is ‘Brave’
  • Coach your parents on what you are asking the kids to do – so they aren’t freaking out and telling the kids to do something different than you are teaching them

The One that Got Away

  • Coach Cromack shares a story of a very talented 11 year-old boys team getting whipped the day after Halloween – it was a reminder to him that they are just kids, don’t take it too seriously

Best Stolen Idea

  • ‘Better people, better players.’

Recommended resources

Go Play Better – HUGE IDEA #2

  • website: goplaybetter.com – Watch the 3 minute video on the homepage to hear what it’s all about!
  • It’s a way to replace win-at-all-cost attitudes with creating grateful attitudes and working for a cause bigger-than-themselves
  • You set a lofty goal (make 100 passes in the game), then instead of rewarding with ice-cream or a treat – they reward with donations to a charitable cause

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