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.
Practice Planning 101
I am very excited to announce that we recently uploaded one of my favorite webinars I ever produced, Practice Planning 101, to our YouTube Channel. This is a comprehensive look at how to plan for your season and covers literally every base: assessing your personnel to determine how you want to play, an installation plan, technology plan, practice philosophy, drills, set up and facilities, priorities, and every drill you will need for every circumstance you will encounter.
One amusing part of this planning process is once you dial in the list of everything you want to install and begin to plug in into practice plans, working backwards from the first game, you will realize there's no way you can install everything on the list and you will cut it in half!
Stick Work: The truth is, winning and losing boils down to skill and IQ, therefore making sure you prioritize skill development is paramount. While I believe that working on stick work in isolation is not as impactful as working on stick work in context such as in keep away drills or live small sided games, I do believe that for intermediate and beginning level players there is still a need to refine the coordination of passing and catching in various situations. The stick work drill I do most by far is simple on the run 2man and 3man weave/no weave passing and catching with prescribed distances. Ramping up the speed at which the players handle as well as being very intentional about the distances between players or how long the pass is. I like a minimum of 10 yards and sometimes will extend to 15 or even 20 yards. We also believe in learning how to throw the ball very hard. The only skill cues I give are "Hands high" for the on the run passing and "Fire it" when they're working on crank passing with a wind up, hitch, or drag where we literally shoot the ball at each other to get used to firing passes and handling hard passes.
The amazing thing about these simple stick work drills is your players will slowly but surely get rid of the excess whips in their sticks. I used to have to "police" the pockets players used, making them play with less whip, but once we did this much crank passing and 2man / 3man on the run at speed and distance whips simply didn't work for them and they all evolved their pockets to accommodate the way we play!
Ground balls: we work on ground balls for 5 minutes per day in small groups and always have an aspect of picking the ball up and immediately moving the ball known as "Ground Ball Offense." In our classic 1v1, 2v1, and 2v2 ground ball drills we have an outlet for players to use to get the ball moving off the ground. This is one of the most important coaching points in this whole webinar, pick up a grounder, move it as quickly as possible and move it one more time!
Individual and Small Group Offense: every day we allocated 25 minutes to small group offensive development where we utilized all of our resources of balls, goals, goalies to create high rep opportunites for learning the key skills of the game. Shooting on goalies, dodging, Big-Little 2man game, 3v2's, and Small sided Games
Shooting: We shot on goalies a lot, but we always use tennis balls so we don't beat up / injure our goalies. The ability to learn how to score on a goalie using deception is critical for every player. Our shooting drills are very simple but the skills we work on are cutting edge. Working on all of the shots: time and room, on the run and inside finishes you will learn how to teach Teeter Totters, Leaners, Low-High Wind ups and more!
Dodging: we worked a lot at the different parts of dodging: how to get a step with slide dodges to the hesitation moves coupled with roll backs as well as post up moves, wrong side alley dodges, and dodging approaches with wind ups and screen shots.
Big-Little: is a huge part of our offense and mastering the Big-Little Invert was a huge emphasis for us. We would do this with attack and mids (no poles) and we would script the defense (primarily no switch) and designate who had the pole and who had the short in order to practice the coverage solutions to what we expected to see from our opponents, which was mostly no switch and get under the picks when the ball was was behind.
3v2 Motions: we liked to work on various attack or midfield motions in 3v2 situations that initiated with a 1v1 but turned into a backside hitch and shot or finish. For example, this gives us a live version of our dodge follow, float where we could work on all different elements of the dodge, the re-dodge, the throw back the one more and the backside shot, hitch or finish.
Individual and Small Group Defense: Each day we designated 25 minutes to our individual and small group defensive development. I learned this model of scaling defenders reps from Gerry Byrne (GB), former Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator and current Harvard Head Coach. I am a self proclaimed disciple of Gerry's defensive teachings. With a menu of great drills designed to help the skills, 1v1 play, communication and team defense, we will whip through 6-8 drills in our 25 minute session by keeping the groups small and leveraging the space in the middle of the field. Our players lead each drill and the coach will oversee but allow the players to quality control the drills once mastered. The key to the GB drills is a focus on the key principles (habits) of your defense: communication, posture, stance, ball pressure, reading the quality of defense on the ball and more.
One interesting part and probably the hardest to teach about GB's drills is the need for the player on offense and defense to work together to create the right looks. In other words, in a half speed (not full contact) 3v3 drill like skip survivor where we're working on slide, second slide, recover, skip pass and dodge again, we need the dodger and defender to create the slide decision in a half speed but realistic way.
Transition Offense / Defense: Working on your transition is key to your success, but I would put more emphasis on your transition defense first. Locking down their ability to play 4v3, 4v4, and 5v4 situations, learning how to get a midfielder to the point when that opportunity presents itself, learning how to slide off a clear through in a transition alley dodge, and how to keep it tight and rotate while buying time to get the midfielders in. This is not to say I never work on our transition offense concepts, but I prioritize the defense and the looks they will see.
Team offense / Team Defense Drills: we spend two segments of each practice on all even team offense and defense. We also make sure to create a high level of pressure in the form of pressure ball and adjacent pressure and double teams for at least a little bit every day. We try to "Kill 3 birds" with one stone in these drills by trying to simultaneously practice our offensive looks, our defense, and any and all skills that need to be emphasized.
Ride / Clear: not the most fun part of practice, but critical for your team's success. Focus first on your clearing which means giving yourself basic riding looks to clear against. I provide some great ways to practice your ride and clear with a small roster if you can't go full field. Don't forget to sub in your riding clearing portion of practice. It's not clearing and riding without subbing!
EMO/EMD success is a function of skill level and IQ. Throughout all of our practice we are working on the ability to move the ball quickly, to fire passes, to draw and dump, to handle, shoot and finish. I do cover some key man up and man down principles but it's the drills that make you great on special teams.
If you are interested in learning more about the way we teach lacrosse at JM3 Sports there are few ways you can engage with us:
JM3 Athlete Program
The JM3 Athlete Program is a unique and powerful model designed to put your son or daughter on a new trajectory of development and exposure. Through a combination of regular Zoom calls, JM3 online content, video analysis, opportunities for in person coaching / playing, and getting on a great strength and conditioning program, JM3 Athletes become the best they can be in the most effective and efficient way possible.
The JM3 Athlete Program focuses on these four principles:
If you want to learn more about the JM3 Athlete Program feel free to fill out the application to take the next steps. Go to Application
Coaching Girls Lacrosse
Mike O'Neil, former 4 years starter at midfield for the Cornell Big Red as well as a veteran of the MLL and PLL at defensive short stick, has become one of the finest girl's lacrosse coaches you will find! O'Neil is the head girls lacrosse coach at Kent Denver School and works full time with me at JM3 Sports. Mike's passion, energy and positivity are unmatched which allows him to relate to the players!
You will get a sense for his coaching in this highlight video from the 3d Colorado 2028 girls team he is coaching.
00:00 3v2 Dotted Line Small Sided Game
00:37 5v5 Double Team
02:34 O'Neil talking to the team about "Bears" which is an old Cornell term for double teams and how to be deceptive on defense!
04:31 Full Field / Short Field 9v9: here O'Neil played a 2-3-2 set up with two defenders, two attackers and three midfielders where they could get up and down, ride, clear and play transition as well as run their Principles Based Offense.
05:02. Listen to these girls communicate on offense calling out "Nations, Nations, Nations" during two man games, trying to get the ball moved to the 3rd player / feeder.
If you are interested in learning more about the way we teach girls lacrosse at JM3 Sports there are few ways you can engage with us:
2023 Season is Right Around the Corner! If you are a coach, program, or a player and want to be prepared like never before, the Coaches Training Program (CTP) has cutting edge skills, drills, and strategies to take your game to new heights.
There are membership levels for everyone. Check it out at www.jm3sports.com/ctp
JM3 SPORTS uses the FreeLap speed timing system with our Athletes along with Tony Hollers Atomic Speed Workout and the results are phenomenal!
Start seeing speed gains in weeks! Get your FreeLap speed timer >>>CLICK HERE <<<
If you want to get Tony Holler's Speed Training for Lacrosse go to this link >>> CLICK HERE <<<
Getting the Most Out of Your FreeLap Timing System >>> CLICK HERE <<<
Be sure to get your own Small Sided Box Lacrosse Goal @ BoxLacrosseGoals.com
If you want to learn a more in-depth approach to all of the drills in this blog check out our premium content. Thousands of athletes, parents, coaches, and programs are subscribed to one of our memberships and have joined the JM3 community to take their lacrosse skills and IQ to an entirely new level.
Check out this Awesome Video we produced!
Have a great weekend!