Evolution of a coaching philosophy: Insights from lacrosse coach Randy Cox

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – In a recent video conversation, I talked with Randy Cox, a former lacrosse player and current Northwood high school lacrosse coach. We discussed his coaching philosophy and his days as an athlete. The discussion provides insights into Cox’s approach to coaching and sheds light on the experiences and lessons that shaped his coaching style. During the conversation Cox highlighted his coaching philosophy, his journey as a lacrosse player, and the impact of his experiences on his coaching career.

Coaching Philosophy

Cox begins by outlining his coaching philosophy, emphasizing the importance of building relationships with his players. He believes that strong connections based on trust and respect are the foundation for a successful coach-player dynamic. Cox stresses the significance of creating a positive and supportive environment that fosters personal growth, both on and off the field. He believes that coaching extends beyond teaching the technical aspects of the game, and it should encompass mentoring and guiding players to become well-rounded individuals.

Randy Cox was a multi-sport athlete at Sachem high school. He played lacrosse, football and wrestled.

As a young athlete, Randy Cox developed a passion for lacrosse. Growing up in a community where the sport was highly revered, Cox quickly honed his skills on the field. From his earliest memories of playing lacrosse, Cox recalls the importance of discipline, dedication, and teamwork. These fundamental values became the pillars of his coaching philosophy later in life. He emphasizes the significance of understanding the game from a player’s perspective, allowing him to empathize and connect with his team on a deeper level.

Drawing from his own experiences as an athlete, Cox emphasizes the significance of understanding the unique needs and strengths of each player. He believes in tailoring his coaching approach to suit individual players, recognizing that what works for one may not work for another. Cox also emphasizes the importance of instilling a sense of accountability and discipline within the team, as he believes these traits are crucial for success.

Journey as a Lacrosse Player

Reflecting on his days as a lacrosse player, Cox shares anecdotes and lessons learned from his experiences. He recalls the challenges he faced and the perseverance required to overcome them. Cox discusses the role of mentors and coaches who played a pivotal part in his development as a player and inspired him to pursue a coaching career.

Cox emphasizes the significance of his experiences as an athlete in shaping his coaching philosophy. He recounts the highs and lows of his playing career, including the lessons he learned from defeats and the satisfaction he derived from victories. These experiences taught him the importance of resilience, teamwork, and continuous improvement, values that he instills in his players today.

The Power of Individual Development

While team success is crucial, Cox also recognizes the significance of individual development. By tailoring coaching strategies to meet each player’s unique needs and goals, Cox has seen remarkable transformations in his athletes. He emphasizes the importance of personalized feedback, skill development plans, and mentorship to unlock each player’s potential.

Cox further explains the role of sports psychology in his coaching philosophy. By cultivating a positive mindset, teaching effective goal-setting techniques, and instilling mental toughness, Cox equips his players with the tools to overcome challenges and perform at their best in high-pressure situations.

Adapting to Changing Dynamics

In an ever-changing sports landscape, coaches must adapt to various dynamics, including the influence of technology and analytics. Cox recognizes the benefits of incorporating data-driven insights into his coaching strategies. By analyzing performance metrics, studying opponents’ gameplay patterns, and leveraging technology for player development, coaches can gain a competitive advantage.

However, Cox emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between data-driven approaches and maintaining the human element in coaching. While analytics provide valuable insights, they should never overshadow the intuitive understanding of the game and the individual needs of the players.

Building a Strong Team Culture

For Cox, building a strong team culture is paramount. He believes that success is not solely measured by wins and losses but by the character and growth of the players. Cox instills values such as resilience, sportsmanship, and accountability, creating a cohesive unit that supports and encourages each other both on and off the field.

To foster team unity, Cox emphasizes open communication channels, active listening, and fostering a sense of belonging. He believes that when players feel valued and heard, they are more motivated to give their best efforts, leading to improved performance and overall team success.

Impact on Coaching Career

Cox credits his experiences as a player and the mentors he encountered along the way for influencing his coaching career. He discusses how he integrates the lessons learned from his coaches into his own coaching style. Cox emphasizes the importance of constantly evolving as a coach, staying updated on the latest strategies and techniques, and adapting to the changing dynamics of the game.

Over the years, the field of coaching has experienced significant changes and advancements. Cox highlights the importance of staying up to date with the latest strategies, technologies, and methodologies. In a sport like lacrosse, where competition is fierce, coaches must constantly adapt and innovate to maintain a competitive edge.

Cox emphasizes the shift from a traditional, authoritative coaching style to a more collaborative and player-centered approach. This transformation recognizes the unique strengths and abilities of each individual athlete, fostering a culture of inclusivity and empowerment. By embracing this evolution, coaches can create an environment where players thrive and reach their full potential.

Furthermore, Cox discusses the role of his coaching staff in creating a cohesive team environment. He acknowledges the contributions of assistant coaches and support staff, highlighting the collaborative nature of his coaching approach. Cox believes in fostering a culture of open communication and empowering his staff to make valuable contributions to the team’s success.

It is clear from our discussion that Randy Cox’s experiences as a student-athlete have played a significant role in shaping his coaching career, as he draws from those experiences to guide and mentor his players. Through his coaching philosophy, Cox aims to create an environment where his players can develop not only as athletes but also as individuals. It is very clear from watching him coach and the success of the Northwood lacrosse team that he is dedicated to continuous improvement and collaborative coaching.

You can view the YouTube video Randy Cox talks about his coaching philosophy and his days as a lacrosse player – 6.9.22

00:04 Randy Cox discusses the benefits of being a multi-sport athlete

  • Playing multiple sports works different parts of the body and introduces athletes to different coaching styles and cultures.
  • Being a multi-sport athlete puts less stress on individual body parts, allowing the body to last longer.

07:20 Playing multiple sports benefits athletes’ bodies and allows for team success.

  • Playing multiple sports allows for the use of different muscle combinations and prevents overuse injuries.
  • Team success can lead to individual success and attract attention from college coaches.

14:45 Randy Cox’s success in lacrosse and football was due to his determination and discipline.

  • Refused to lose and never lost a sprint.
  • Discipline built through starting sprints with foot behind the line.

22:04 Emphasis on one sport has negative implications on the body

  • Parents push kids to be the best in one sport, but only a small percentage make it to Division 1 or professional level
  • Playing multiple sports can help prevent wearing out the body and allow for recovery time

29:34 There is no one right path for student-athletes, and it’s important to ask what they want.

  • Student-athletes should be open-minded about their options, including D1, D2, and D3 schools.
  • It’s important to evaluate what region of the country a person wants to be in, what they want to study, and if they want to play at that school.
  • Following up with coaches and treating people with respect can help navigate changing circumstances.
  • Academic performance can make a difference in attracting scholarships, especially for D2 and D3 schools.

36:51 Randy Cox reflects on UNC lacrosse team’s success and tight-knit family culture

  • UNC lacrosse team won a national championship in 1981 and gained media attention to educate North Carolinians on the sport
  • Team emphasized family and had strong bonds, which led to success and special memories for the players

44:40 Belief system and commitment make a difference in winning and losing

  • Discipline and positive energy are necessary for success
  • Mindset and bringing positive energy can lead to luck or not being denied

52:56 Playing for Team USA was a special experience

  • Selection for tryouts and the process of making the team
  • Being part of a great group of players and winning a World Championship