Lax Factory Athlete Development Model™

Lax Factory Athlete Development Model™


Lax Factory is proud to announce the Lax Factory Athlete Development Model™. Our athlete development model is geared towards developing elite male athletes, the right way. In response to the current lacrosse landscape of sport specialization, early recruiting and rising incidence of youth sports injuries. we have implemented a model that has our athlete’s best interests in mind. One of the most devastating mistakes that any young athlete (and their parents) can make is specializing in one sport too early. Early sport specialization almost always leads to “short term success” at the sacrifice of long term achievement, especially when it comes to team sports. At a young age, it is important that athletes develop Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) and Fundamental Sport Skills (FSS) that build a strong foundation for future success.   

In other words, playing multiple sports is NECESSARY to develop elite level athleticism. Further, early specialization leads to increased probability of burnout (e.g. athletes quitting when they’re older), poor FMS and/or development of overuse injuries. More importantly, early specialization prioritizes the wrong things and does not allow kids to just be kids.


Lax Factory’s Athlete Development Model™ is designed to produce elite athletes through well-researched and proven methods that allow steady and continued development throughout the athlete’s career. Traditional methods create high level athletes at relatively young ages (e.g. middle school and high school) that fail to progress beyond that point. These methods typically include a lack of attention to FMS, over-emphasis on competition, early sport specialization and poor levels of instruction. Athletes following a traditional method of development often do not develop a large enough foundation, which in turn limits their ability to maximize their potential and compete at the highest levels of sport (NCAA Division I and professionally). In fact, it is because they rushed the development process that they’ve actually limited their full potential. This flawed process is a classic example of sacrificing long-term achievement for short-term success. Our Athlete Development Model is based on an understanding of both psychological and physical development, the latter of which is driven by research demonstrating sensitive periods, or “Windows of Trainability” for the development of specific athletic qualities within an athlete’s maturation process.


Lacrosse Athlete Training Model


This graph shows the sensitive periods, or “Windows of Trainability”, for the development of specific athletic qualities based 
on chronological age and peak height velocity (PHV). As athletes mature, their chronological age differs from their developmental age and it is important that we take this into consideration.

This is a well-researched and proven system for developing elite level athletes. It is intended to serve as a guideline of progression for athletes in our program and a resource for coaches and parents who have been misinformed about proper youth athlete development.


Lax Factory Athlete Development Model™ Stages


U9 (FUNdamental)  **Try Everything and Own the Basics**

> Play as many sports as possible (sports such as gymnastics and martial arts are highly recommended)

> Minimal emphasis on formal competition

> Emphasis on Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) which include the ABC’s of Athleticism, Locomotive Skills, Manipulative Skills and Awareness Skills   **This is KEY**

U11-U13 (Learn to Train)  **Golden Age of Learning**

> Participate in 2-3 different sports with distinct off-seasons

> Emphasis should be on proper instruction and training, with less emphasis on competition. 

> Conversion of Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) to Fundamental Sport Skills (FSS)

**HEAVY emphasis on instruction of proper FSS. This is the “Golden Age of Learning!”***

13-16 (Train to Train) **MAJOR fitness development stage**

> Participate in 2-3 different sports with distinct off-seasons (Playing 2 sports is okay)

> Skill development is still an integral part of this stage, even with increasing levels of competition

> Emphasis should be on developing overall athleticism and sport-specific skills

> Begin athletic development training program (1-2x/week in-season, 2-4x/week off-season), emphasis on learning efficient movement patterns and proper lifting technique

> Instruction on topics such as nutrition, sports psychology, recovery/regeneration and injury prevention

> Prior to Peak Height Velocity (PHV), athletes should train to build their aerobic base

**During this stage, it is likely that PHV will occur. At this time, it is suggested that an athlete choose two sports to allow more off-season time geared towards the anaerobic system and strength development.**

17+ (Train to Compete, Train to Win) **For the committed athlete ONLY**

> Specialization in one sport is accepted at this point

> Emphasis on maximizing sport-specific and position-specific skill

> Participate in athletic development training program (2-3x/week in-season, 4-5x/week off-season) with increased emphasis on maximizing strength, power, and conditioning

These age groups are general guidelines based on children’s physical and psychosocial development. To paraphrase athletic development expert Mike Boyle, it’s important that we don’t apply adult values to youth sports programs. Youth have a different set of rules and need an appropriate environment in order to achieve success. This environment is imperative to ensuring that they will enjoy the activities that they choose and will keep them coming back for more. The importance of having fun should not be overlooked in the development process, and, in fact, should be the primary priority at most youth levels!

Previous article: Training Hard and Recovering Harder

Josh Funk, DPT, CSCS is the Founder and President of Lax Factory (, which is a comprehensive lacrosse program based in Western Maryland. With Lax Factory, he specializes in individual player development and is a club team coach throughout the year. Outside of skill development and coaching, Josh works as a physical therapist and performance coach. With his background he is able to work with athletes on a broad continuum of rehabilitation, training and skill development.

Josh’s lacrosse career began in Montgomery County, Maryland where he starred as a midfielder at Poolesville High School. After earning County Player of the Year Honors, Josh took his talents to The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, Josh earned All-Conference honors and was a captain on the 2008 team that went to the Elite 8 for the 1st time in school history. He then continued his playing career in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) where he played 2 seasons for the Minnesota Swarm. While playing professionally, Josh was a graduate student at the University of Maryland-Baltimore and earned his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.


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