Welcome to "A Lacrosse Weekend" my weekly compilation of thoughts, ideas, stories, myths, truths, about the great game of lacrosse. I hope you enjoy it!
A Year in Review
Everyone is happy that 2020 is over, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out 2020" they'll say. And I agree, in that there has been so much suffering and so much loss of life, jobs, and opportunity. In the Munro family, we were lucky only to lose lacrosse seasons. While it was heartbreaking to see the Georgetown season come to an abrupt end and the ThunderRidge HS girls' team that I coach and my daughter plays on, barely get started, I have to say that 2020 had much to appreciate and be thankful for.
Family Time: The time I spent with my wife and kids during March, April and May were precious. We hunkered down, played sports in the backyard everyday, ate together, hiked, and took an epic RV trip across the nation with the destination our bubble in Narragansett, RI where we met friends, family, and some JM3 Athletes for the month of June. On our RV Trip, we played a 2v2 game in every state along the way. Below is a picture of our kids after a 2x game in front of the covered bridge from The Bridges of Madison County, Iowa.
Friends: I am so thankful for the friends in my neighborhood, my friends from the month we spent in our bubble in Narragansett, the friends who joined us in Delray Beach this past December and all the amazing people I grew up with or met just recently. The relationships and good times spent in 2020 were like no other. I think we all spent so much time in isolation, the opportunity to be with friends was more precious than ever. Thank you friends!
Backyard Lacrosse: The pandemic wasn't going to get in the way of kids who wanted to play lacrosse. At the Munro household, we figured out endless ways to have fun and get better in the backyard with such games as "Shooting on Dad" "Area 1v1's" and "Passer, Picker, dodger, Defender." We probably played more hoops than lacrosse with a couple epic 2v2 series of first to 20 games!
Remote Coaching: There has never been a time where remote coaching has been more impactful than in this pandemic. Kids had a ton of time and needed / wanted to play, get better, learn, and use their time effectively! The best part is it's fun and it works!
Timed 10's: The world renowned Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Boyle introduced me to the power of REAL SPEED TRAINING! "It's not speed training if you're not timing yourself" Mike says and in 2020 my own kids and my JM3 Athletes have begun to harness the power of sprinting a 100% a few times per week.
I put this in the blessings category for 2020 because contrary to popular belief, an athlete can get actually faster and they don't need a coach to make it happen. This is a backyard model that incredibly effective and practical!
JM3 Athletes: I am so grateful for the kids I work with and their families, I can't even express it in words. Thanks for the opportunity to work with your sons and daughters, to let me help them find their way of learning the game and to help them learn how to use lacrosse as a medium to refine so many important life skills!
2020 By The Numbers
In 2020 I cranked up the number of podcasts I produce to three per week during quarantine in March, April, May and then again from August through October for a total of 70 Podcasts! I am so thankful for the great guests of men's and women's lacrosse who joined the show as well as my co-hosts PLL Chaos Head Coach Andy Towers on the In Season Podcast and Colleen Magarity for the Inside The 8 Podcast focused on women's lacrosse.
48 Phi-Lacrosse-Ophy Podcasts: these podcasts have similar outlines each time: We start with their lacrosse journey, then we talk about philosophy: culture, offense, defense, player development, 2man game. Finally, we always talk about college lacrosse recruiting. These are the same conversations I've been having with the top coaches and players in the world for the past 30 years, only now I'm recording them! One of my personal favorites was with PLL Defender Eddy Glazener who in my opinion is a brilliant lacrosse mind and could easily be a DI defensive coordinator at the highest level!
Coming soon: I'm creating a book and an E-Book, similar to "Tribe of Mentors" (Thanks David Greenspan for the idea) where all of this incredible knowledge will be available!
14 "Inside The 8 Podcasts" with Colleen Magarity: I love doing podcasts with Colleen and our incredible guests! Our shows are quite conversational, full of improv and humor! The format for the show: Catch up on the now, building team culture, offensive philosophy, defensive philosophy, developing players and favorite drills, transition and substitution, and finally college lacrosse recruiting. Our Podcast with Northwestern Head Coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller was incredible and has the most listens of 2020 with over 11K!
11 Flying Solo Podcasts: in 2020 I started a new podcast where it is my opportunity to think out loud and expound on topics that are important to me. I would tell you, unequivocally, the Free Play Podcast is the most important and impactful content I've ever produced. Some of these podcasts will leave you shaking your head in disbelief like the Handedness podcast or Fundamentals podcast, but I challenge you to open your mind. I have gone through a major metamorphosis in the past three years slowly but surely eliminating structure and it is exciting to me to see how much more effective this model is!
I also did a Phi-Lacroosse-ophy Podcast with MacVan this year that I would say is a must listen, especially if you are an offensive coordinator! Marc's list of great teams and great players he's coached is second to none, and his low key demeanor combined with his intelligence is pure gold!
7 In Season Podcast with PLL Chaos Head Coach Andy Towers: I love doing these podcasts with AT! First, there's just nothing like college lacrosse season! Talking about the players, the match ups, the rankings etc is a blast. Plus, AT's analysis on players, teams and games combined with his stories are the best in the business: honest, accurate and hilarious! We had over 3k listens in Episode 1 of Season 2, but with Covid, like everything else, we had to shut it down! 2021 Here we come!
Podcasts in 50 countries
It's exciting to see the growth of the game internationally and one great way to measure is to see how far reaching the Phi-Lacrosse-ophy podcast truly is!
Eight JM3 Athletes Committed
This year JM3 Athletes committed to the following schools: Princeton, North Carolina, Williams, Brown, Cornell, Harvard, Duke, and Mercer. These outcomes were certainly favorable, but the process of watching these kids discover themselves, work hard, keep the faith, stick with it.... and all during a pandemic was incredible. And of course, this is just the beginning!
2020 Brought Forty-Six "A Lacrosse Weekend" Blog Posts
I love doing my blog, but I have to say that sometimes it's like an anchor on a Saturday morning! However the feedback I get and the readership makes it all worthwhile. I am constantly learning and even though I am sometimes reluctant to share my newest ideas (I want to save them for my JM3 Athletes! or my HS team), my desire to grow the game and present great content eventually always wins!
My blog has consistent themes of content:
Men's and Women's Coaching Content: I want to present the deepest richest content for youth, HS, and college coaches! If you like the content in my blog, you will love the Coaches Training Programs, which are second to none in terms of thoughtful, practical and cutting edge content!
Check out this awesome 2nd slide approach drill from last January when I was able to watch a UVA pre-season practice! During UVA's "Station Work" Lars created a drill that is incredibly realistic for both sides of the ball where a 2nd slider has to approach a skip pass. I like this better than typical approach drills because it creates varied approach angles, often times controlled by the off ball offensive player. Try it! You'll like it!
Men's and Women's Skills Content: I have always been fascinated by skills! Studying what the best players in the world do, I try both to identify why something works and how to teach it to my JM3 Athletes.
Last January I did a podcast, a video assessment, and a webinar breakdown with Kayla Treanor, Assistant Coach Boston College: Kayla is simply one my all-time favorite players, (men or women) to watch. I love her use of all kinds of fakes, post ups, BTB shots, ankle breaking KT Split Dodges! Watch the video below of Kayla posting up right handed (she's a lefty!), hitching all the way up to the Island, then a hard pump to set up her BTB! So sick!
in 2020 we revamped our YouTube Channel! I urge you to subscribe because we are adding all kinds of incredible content. Check out this Dodging 101 video where I breakdown HS and pro clips with a voice over that will teach you how to use one move to build up to the next! It's awesome!
College Lacrosse Recruiting Content: with all the podcasts and the work I do with my JM3 Athletes, I'm always up to date on this topic. Plus, I'm one of the few who have in depth knowledge of men's and women's lacrosse recruiting. The questions I ask of these coaches like, "How do you recruit IQ?" or "What are you looking for in a defender?" will lead you down a better path for understanding the recruiting process! If you want more information on recruiting, I highly recommend you subscribe to the JM3 Recruiting Portal.
Free Play Content: I am passionate about lacrosse and equally passionate about the power of free play! I have watched my own children and my JM3 Athletes flourish in this environment where they learn to play without thinking, judging themselves, or being told what to do / what not to do. It's truly mind blowing to see how well Free Play works and more importantly how it creates a love of the game and a camaraderie for both boys and girls, kids and adults, Youth, HS, and college players. The confidence that builds is undeniable and it truly unlocks a player's mind and their game!
Check out the video below from the 4th annual Family and Friends, Beach and Lacrosse Vacation in Delray Beach, FL where we took unstructured play, on the field and in the box to a whole new level! This group was comprised of my kids and their friends, my cousin and his friends, JM3 Athletes and the kids of guys I grew up with or have known for years!
We had four games going on at one time, games to three, shuffle sticks to make teams, if you lose you go down, if you win you move up in a King of the Hill format.
Even our on field work was void of instruction, was Unstructured and therefore has the same power as Free Play. My goal for the players was for them to play, learn, have fun and watch film with me later! This is the ultimate format and is my model with JM3 Athletes!
Watch the girls playing 5v5 with 2man games going on ball side and backside simultaneously. If you're wondering why there's boy out there, it's because he's coming off labrum surgery and wasn't cleared for full contact.
I really wanted the boys to have an opportunity to get a ton of reps in context. We didn't do many straight up 1v1's because it's not as realistic as a 3v3 with 2man games and crease slides. If you watch the level of play it's pretty impressive!
I host Free Play get togethers with friends, family, and JM3 Athletes throughout the year, but the interesting part is there is no sign up, no jersey, no fee, not much coaching, nothing mandatory except being a good kid, and if you're tired or banged up, you don't have to play. It is a Free Will camp as much as it's full of Free Play.
The key to learning naturally is the combination of playing and learning implicitly ideally with very little coaching and competitive situations and then watching the film and learning what actually happened after the fact in a non judgemental way. We need to clearly understand why things happen, then over the course of playing without thinking, athletes gain critical awareness of the game and their game.
40 + Webinars
In 2020 we conducted two Virtual Lacrosse Summits and countless other webinars to stock pile important content for the Men's and Women's Coaches Training Programs! I would have to say the Hang up 2man, A New Paradigm was my favorite and you can see it for free at 2mangame.com.
Don't miss out on January 11-14 Virtual Lacrosse Summit where we have an amazing line up of men's, women's, and box lacrosse speakers! I'll be sending info out on this asap! Register at VirtualLacrosseSummit.com.
Three New JM3 Courses
In 2020 I was worked my tail off creating content!
Pick up Games of 2020
I have counted more than 100 days of pick up games that I played with my family, friends and JM3 Athletes! While the world didn't get to play that much lacrosse, we probably played more than we ever have! Check out the pick up game highlight video from 2020! You will literally see every skill and concept a player or coach could ever wish for!
JM3 Sports Hires Bobby Benson
One of the most exciting developments of 2020 was the addition of former John's Hopkins Offensive Coordinator, Bobby Benson to the JM3 team! Bobby is one of the most respected and connected coaches in the game and is going to have a tremendous impact on the JM3 Coaches Training Program and JM3 Athletes. Bobby will help create content, run office hours and work with our coaches in the JM3 Coaches Program where we work 1 on 1 with HS programs. Bobby's passion for X's and O's combined with his massive experience in the sport's ultimate college lacrosse program will make our Coaches Training Program better than ever!
Bobby will also be working closely with JM3 Athletes both in film review and in recruiting consultation. Our focus in this program is more on helping a player learn how to become the best they can be than anything else! If you're not good enough, there's nothing else to talk about! But when a player is ready to pop, it's helpful to have experienced coaches who know your son's game inside and out, advising and advocating for you.
The Best Book of 2020
Thanks to Mikey Thompson, Head Coach at Christopher Newport and Will Corrigan, Assistant at Harvard for turning me on to what I will call the most important book I've read in years, The Inner Game of Tennis. I read this book (actually Mikey gave me an Audible gift so I listened to it!) and it will become the foundation of how I will try and live my life in 2021 as well as the foundation of my teachings with JM3 Athletes.
Have a great weekend! And have a great 2021!