A Lacrosse Weekend 10.3.20

Uncategorized Oct 03, 2020

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! 

Phi-Lacrosse-ophy Podcast

Jono Zissi, Head Coach Torrey Pines, Director West Coast Starz.  Jono is one of the finest HS coaches in the nation and is an absolute pro when it comes to club lacrosse and college lacrosse recruiting.  In this podcast,  we chat about Jono's lacrosse journey, his years at Tufts, being a part of the early years at Adrenaline Lacrosse and West Coast Starz, ten years at Torrey Pines High School, his evolution as a coach, his PLL Redwoods assistant coaches Jules Heningburg and Garret Epple, player development, offensive concepts and finally a deep dive into recruiting in 2020.  Click here to listen!

Jono is a subscriber to the JM3 Coaches Training Program.  Listen to him talk about what a huge impact the CTP has had on his program and even and how it has helped him win championships! 

In particular Jono references, the AT Play, which I consider to be the the greatest play of all-time, named after PLL Chaos Head Coach Andy Tower.  I used this play for 15 years and our teams scored big time 4th quarter goals with it over the years at Denver and Mountain Vista HS. 

Mike Boyle, world renowned Strength and Conditioning Coach, author, and owner of MBSC, an incredible online S&C option!  This podcast spends a solid 35 minutes on the topic of SPEED!  Mike's philosophy is practical and simple: Push something, pull something, do something for your legs and time your sprints!  Learn why if you're not timing yourself with an electronic timer, it's not speed training.    We finish the podcast talking about the weight room and why Mike doesn't believe in back squats, in interesting fact about one legged exercises, and why he prefers "Hang Cleans"to "Power Cleans."

Skin in the game: one thing Mike and I talk about is that what we recommend or teach in the weight room or on the lacrosse field is EXACTLY what we do with our own children.  Mike's son is a 2023 midfielder and I've got three DI kids.  I work with Mike's son Mark on film review and my kids work in his program through Mike's TrainHeroic App and the MBSC online program and it has been phenomenal for their development!  

Click here to listen to the Mike Boyle Podcast!

Mike Boyle / JM3 Collaboration

For a limited time only, if you go to LacrosseAthlete.com you can sign up to work directly with Mike and his staff of pros (exactly how my kids work with them)  AND get access to JM3 Academy content which includes the JM3 Attack/Midfield Academy, JM3 Defense Academy, JM3 Girls Academy and the Backyard Curriculum.

Everyone needs expert strength and conditioning to achieve their athletic goals and everyone has the same pain points:

  • Hard to find a good gym nearby
  • Hard to know if a program or coach is good
  • Lack of time with multi sport practices, school, SAT prep, etc
  • Speed Coaches charge $50-$100 per hour

The MBSC online model is the solve!  Working out at home provides athletes with the most efficient use of time.  They can bang out their lifts twice per week exactly when it fits in their busy schedule and they are guaranteed world class instruction and feedback. 

Through the app athletes can ask questions, send in videos of them doing a lift, or get any feedback on anything for the fraction of a cost of an in person trainer!  Plus you get the JM3 Academy rolled into the offer!

If you have questions, you can email Mike himself at [email protected]

Teaching Lacrosse Fundamentals

I've been exploring the power of keep away games for a couple of years and the more I do it, the more I'm blown away by the environment.  A few weeks ago in my blog, I took a deep dive into the word "Fundamentals" since I had just published a Flying Solo Podcast on the topic. 

The main take away from this podcast and blog is this: fundamentals are not techniques, fundamentals are concepts. 

Taking this idea one step further, when a coach deems any skill or technique a "Fundamental" he/she is really just creating a "Fake Fundamental" which is defined as: a fundamental that isn't true, accurate or correct.

Think of any technique that one might consider to be a fundamental, such as: overhand passing, two hand ground balls, move your feet, stick vertical, be equal left and right, create separation, dodge with speed, etc.

5v5 Keep Away

If you watch the 5v5 Keep Away video below, you will see what I mean when i say there is no way any so called fundamentals would even come close to universally applying to this high level and realistic game environment. 

Passes are being thrown at all angles and rarely overhand because of the ball pressure, slowing down is actually the biggest key to navigating pressure and double teams, players using their strong hands so effectively (you will actually see more turnovers from switching hands too much) and deceptively, their sticks are very often parallel to the ground while protecting their stick and looking to pass.

By the way, can you see which player has new Gait stick with the revolutionary Laxpocket.com technology!  The pocket actually expands with centrifugal force, but snaps back to legal when it's still!  

There are a TON Fundamental Concepts that occur in this 5v5 Keep Away game.  Rules: we play in a 13 yard x 13 yard space, count completed passes as a point, double teams as two points, and we play it until a change of possession or the ball goes out of bounds.  The game is to 21.

Fundamental Concepts

  • Possess the ball
  • Ball pressure
  • Deny passes to off ball players
  • Defensive double teams and rotations 
  • Dodgers handling and baiting double teams
  • Playing with head up
  • Passing and catching under pressure
  • Getting open
  • Epic ground ball scraps
  • On ball and off ball 2man games
  • Stick protection
  • Baiting and deception
  • Off ball seals
  • Draw and dump
  • Slowing down under pressure

Women's coaches: if you like this content, you will LOVE the JM3 Women's Coaches Training Program.  It is the deepest and richest coaches education on the internet.  And, your players will all receive JM3 Girls Academy subscriptions if your program subscribes!

Players Learning Implicitly

Imagine this: if you run this 5v5 Keep Away you don't actually have to teach any techniques.  The skills and techniques will miraculously occur on their own.  Remember this, "Skills are solutions", but we don't want to give the players the solutions, we want to give them the problems and let them figure it out.  It's call implicit learning and it's powerful. 

"Every time you work on or #Rep a skill in any structure, you are taking away the problem solving opportunity for the players and you are literally teaching them to fit a square peg in a round hole."

The amazing thing I've found from both the boys (below) and girls keep away is many of the so called fundamentals take care of themselves with no coaching and no prompting.  For example, I have never told the players to put their stick in the "Box Area" yet they are giving a target in open space every time!  The environment is truly creating the player.  There is no coaching necessary!

JM3 Athletes, Film, And Teaching The Game

There is a time to teach the game and talk about the game, and in my opinion it's NOT during practice!  The time to teach is after the fact while reviewing film.  When JM3 Athletes and I watch film from games, pick up games, or other prescribed environments, it is the chance for the athlete to see what actually happened.  We find out what worked, what didn't and why.  It is my opportunity to say, "That was sick!  Why did you do that?"  I can also show the athletes video clips of skills that other players use and open their eyes to new things!  I try hard never to use the word "Should" and especially not to use the word "Shouldn't."  

The process of learning implicitly and reviewing later has been wildly successful!  Whether it's watching film from Delray or Narragansett pick up or if I have my editor breakdown an athlete in a video assessment, there is always a ton of interesting content to look at and learn from!  Below is an example of an assessment video with all the athlete's touches, good and bad, as well as off ball opportunities.  This player's IQ and deceptiveness is pretty off the charts and guess what: he plays a ton of pick up!!!!


One of the amazing things my JM3 Athletes acquire through this process is the ability to speak the language of a coach.  Lars Tiffany, Head Coach at UVA once told me he makes his recruits draw up X's and O's on the white board as he evaluates their understanding of the game.  I can tell you that my JM3 Athletes would a test like this as they are well versed from our weekly Zoom calls breaking down video on skills, drills, and concepts.

3v3 Keep Away Full Equipment

Watch the boys lacrosse 3v3 Keep Away in a 12 yard x 12 yard area, where each completed pass is a point, a double team is two points, and we just see what happens.  It's absolutely incredible to see how many solutions these players are learning.  

Remember this: it is just as valuable when the players fail as when the players succeed in this environment.  This is why you don't have to teach techniques at all.  They will figure them out on a case by case basis.

A Girl Dad Coaching Women's Lacrosse

I'm a girl dad and I've fallen in love with women's lacrosse!  It is so fun to play, fun to watch, and fun to coach!  Sadly, I hear many men and women say things like, "The games are totally different" or "This is our game, not men's lacrosse" etc.   I understand the differences in rules between men's and women's lacrosse,  but honestly the games are incredibly similar.  The skills, the concepts, the athleticism, the the fundamentals of offense and defense are exactly the same!  

Here are some thoughts from a Girl Dad:

  • Have your girls play pick up lacrosse with small nets and tennis balls
  • Pick up lacrosse with small nets simulates box lacrosse, which is a skill and IQ accelerator
  • Have girls play pick up games with boys sticks because it will help them learn more swing angles on their passes and shots as well as more fakes and control
  • A boys stick with a tennis ball is very similar to a women's stick with a lacrosse ball and is perfectly transferable
  • Have your girls put pads on sometimes and play box lacrosse or boys lacrosse, they love it and it teaches them physicality that will help them in the future
  • Don't worry about 3 second rules when you're practicing in small area games, worry about defensive concepts of help
  • When you're practicing 7v7 you can worry about 3 seconds
  • Teach your girls everything you would teach your boys!
  • Pick up games with boys and girls is more fun than all boys or all girls!
  • Don't teach girls (or boys for that matter) traditional fundamentals, let the game do the teaching
  • Have girls learn to throw long passes and crank passes

I highly encourage you to consider subscribing to the Backyard.Curriculum,.com and see how I develop skills with my own kids.  I promise, it  will be the best $19 you ever spent!

If you watch the video below from Pick up games this past summer, you will see what I'm talking about when I say the pick up game environments with girls using boys sticks, small nets, playing with boys and girls together is incredible!  

Small Nets

By the way, if you need goals for your Backyard Pick up games,  call Steve Trombley from Hot Bed Lacrosse at 315) 439-9956‬.  The goals you see in most of my videos are a 3'6'' x 3'6'' which I think is the perfect size for free play. 

Check out this video of BTB and Backhand shots from this summer!  I didn't teach any of this!  This was all instinct!


How Does Pick up Translate to Girls Lacrosse?

Watch this video and you will see what a team looks like with very little coaching and a ton of pick up!  We practiced once per week in the off season and did nothing but play pick up games with small nets and tennis balls.  For 75 minutes per week we played different games and literally did nothing else!  This game was played with four days of practice.  It was our first and last on March 12th 2020.  It's sad because we were going to be pretty good!  

  • Notice the 2man games
  • Notice the off ball actions
  • Nations Looks
  • Creative faking, dodging, passing and shooting


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Have a great weekend! 




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