A Lacrosse Weekend 8.14.21

Uncategorized Aug 14, 2021

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!   

If you are a men's or women's lacrosse player, coach, or parent, I think you will love the weekly content, videos, and analysis!

Thank You Mikey Thompson!

For the last few months I have taken a sabbatical from writing this blog and I want to thank Christopher Newport Head Coach Mikey Thompson for filling in every Saturday and keeping the great content flowing!  Mikey brings an incredible perspective and thoughtfulness to JM3 Sports and his expertise in and passion for sports psychology and mindfulness has had a massive impact JM3 Athletes, and readers of this blog!  

Chase Fraser Insane Hard Pump / Face Dodge

Last night I was watching the Chaos - Archers game and I saw one of the most insane plays!  Chase Fraser caught a pass from Wes Berg with an approaching defender and used a very deceptive move that I call a Hard Pump / Face Dodge.  This move sells shot and follow through and acts as a face dodge simultaneously.  


In my "Flying Solo" Podcast titled "Fundamentals" I explain in how the word fundamentals is misunderstood by many people with the result being coaches are really teaching "Fake Fundamentals."  Most people define Fundamentals as specific techniques that a player needs to know in order to be successful on the field such as over hand passing.

Fundamentals turn into Fake Fundamentals when they are not true.

How can overhand passing be more fundamental than any other swing angle that gets the ball from point A to point B in a game situation?  The actual fundamental is not the technique but rather maintaining possession / creating a scoring change by completing a pass in the context defensive presence or pressure on the passer and the receiver. 

How are kids taught the fundamental of passing: "See your target, Turn sideways, point your butt end towards the target, step, push/pull and follow through overhand"

Next, coaches are frustrated that their players are telegraphing their passes LOL

An on ball defender will put a stick in the lane of a passer literally every time and therefore most passes in playmaking situations are actually at angles around sticks or bodies.  In a lacrosse game there are always off ball defenders reading the play and anticipating where a pass will go, therefore deceptive passes like backhands, BTB's, Levers No Looks, are critical to buy time for the receiver.   

The fundamental isn't about the technique as there are endless situations a player will encounter in a game that will require different techniques, which are solutions.

Therefore, the fundamental isn't about overhand but is about possessing the ball, handling the pressure, angles, reading the play, deception, communication and ball movement which involve dozens of factors occurring at one time.

Keep Away Teaches Fundamentals

This  5v5 Keep Away drill / game in my opinion is the  ultimate way to work on the fundamentals of possession and ball movement vs pressure as well as possession and ball movement in the context of our Principles Based Offense which involves on ball and off ball picks occurring simultaneously coupled with ball movement.

I will be doing a men's and women's lacrosse webinar on Principles Based Offense in our Virtual Lacrosse Summit coming up in October!

On this particular day the emphasis was on ball 2man game vs pressure and no switch, jabbing and splitting to our weak side to keep the defense honest, as well as 3man off ball action with picks, slips, seals and pick the picker actions.

Reading and Influencing a Play

I have come to the conclusion that ultimate fundamental for any player in any sport is also simplest way to define what makes a player great: his or her ability to "Read and Influence" a play.  Reading the play is recognizing and understanding a situation while anticipating what might happen next.  Influencing the play happens simultaneously with reading the play and can be done in several ways: Players can use deception to influence an opponent to do something beneficial for their team,  communication can be used to influence one's teammates to work together to have success in the given situation, and tempo can be used to to influence your opponent to play faster or slower.

Many people would argue that a player must have a set of skills before they should begin working on Reading and Influencing or that refinement of skills is just as important as Reading and Influencing, but I disagree.  The Reading and Influencing of a play and the skills go together and should be practiced together whenever possible.  

Further, Reading and Influencing can only occur in "Game-Like" situations.  I define Game-Like as situations with the context of offense and defense combined with "Limited Coach Control" and ideally is competitive (this really keeps coaches from influencing the play).   The context piece is obvious, if there is no opponent, there is nothing to Read or Influence.  The "Limited Coach Control" part has to do with allowing the players to find solutions on their own.  In other words, it's not about the coach reading and influencing the play, it's about the players learning to read and influence the play.

I am not suggesting players should never do wall ball, shooting on their own or work on foot work of dodging / defending vs nobody.  I'm suggesting for players and coaches to prioritize, whenever possible, situations  that can build on the ability to Read and Influence plays.  This is truly every player's upside.

Influencing Plays With Posture

I talk a lot with my JM3 Athletes about various postures and how they to influence plays with postures and changing postures.  Your defender will almost always mirror your posture and whether you know it or not, you're being read by the defense whenever you have the ball.

  • Dodging Posture, bent at the waist and low cradle will back a defender off, slow an approach and cause the off ball defenders to look at you with sticks low.
  • Passing Posture will cause your man to lift up their stick and for off ball players to find their own man
  • Shooting Posture, or a wind up or Hitch causes players to get in or out of the way of the shot while off ball players tend to watch.
  • Post up posture causes the on ball defender to dig in and push while off ball players watch the ball and get ready to slide
  • Retreating Posture causes the on ball player to attack and the off ball players to find their man.

Here is a great example of Jesse King using a Double Threat Dodging posture to influence his defender to dig in and brace for a dodge when King was looking to shoot.

I say this to my JM3 Athletes all the time: your opponent will defend everything you are trying to do.  If you do not fake, they will defender your shot, your dodge and your feed with a cross check / push,  a trail check, a slap, a lift or a reach.  If you fake, the defender will defend your fake, opening up a window to shoot.

Watch the way Jeff Teat below subtly indicates to his defender that he is going to take a RH shot, inducing the defender to trail check, opening up a window for Teat to shoot with his strong left hand.

If you want to see one of the best examples of Reading and Influencing in the history of the sport, watch this highlight reel of Pat Spencer from his 2019 Loyola season. 

Have a great weekend!


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