A Lacrosse Weekend 11.26.22

Uncategorized Nov 26, 2022

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.




Alex Sarama Podcast

Alex is the Director and Head Coach Italian National Basketball Academy, Player Development for Paris Basketball, who play in for the Euro-cup which is like the Champions League for hoops, Creative Director for Basketball Immersion, Former NBA Europe, does consulting for NBA and NCAA schools.  

I first discovered Alex Sarama when he published a blog, "Do players really need fundamentals before they can play the game", which is one of the best articles I've ever read breaking down the concepts of Constraints Led Approach and Non Linear Pedagogy which differs significantly from the way most coaches think.   Amazingly, Alex is only 26 years old!  Alex creates the best coaching / playing content in basketball on the web.  Check out this incredible Luke Doncic Pick and Roll vs Drop Coverages breakdown.  It's incredible!



Normally, I do not go back and listen to my own podcasts, but in this case I listened for a second time on a bike ride this week and realized I needed to listen again and take notes!  There are so many good nuggets of info that I will share in this blog.

Listen to more of the Phi-Lacrosse-ophy Podcast with Jamie Munro >>> www.PHILACROSSEOPHY.com <<<


I kicked off the podcast asking Alex what he's been doing lately that is interesting and he immediately started on a great conversation about various constraints he's been using.  Sarama has been constraining space in 2v2 and 3v3 drills using coaches or extra players as a wall.  In lacrosse I call it "Human Boards" and is a great alternative to cones.

Constraining space creates more pressure on the offense and forces them to make quicker decisions and attack with more urgency.  

Another constraint Alex has been using is a shot clock on every possession of every drill.  I love this and have been using a goalie count down shot clock regularly for all of our drills and pick up games for the past 8 months and it's been a huge upgrade!  The shot clock forces faster play, penalizes sloppy play, and forces players to figure out how to get a shot off.

Alex loves adding as calls them "Plus ones" meaning an extra picker, an extra feeder or even an extra defender.  Adding these constraints changes the affordances offered by the situation and therefore the players have to learn and adapt.  If we add another defender to disrupt the pick and roll pass, the player must learn to feed the feeder for a Nations Look.

Outnumbered is a cool constraint Alex has been tinkering with.  He mentioned last year he had spent a lot more time doing uneven drills and games, but now feels strongly that the unevens are too easy and is doing more all even and outnumbered games.  A 1v2 situation forces players to find solutions in their ability to get to the basket.  I have experimented with 1v2 drills and they're fantastic.  Not only because to win a close game players have to be able to handle a double team, but the amazing learning that takes place when trying to evade two defenders.  In lacrosse, I've done 1v2 to the goal as well as 1v2 in space where the dodger simply has to maintain possession.  It's amazing to see the the way players deploy different moves and speeds when they're forced to!  Check out the backyard 1v2 Area 1v1 drill we did during Covid lockdown. 

Another really cool constraint Sarama uses that I have translated to lacrosse is 3v2 outside the 3 point line, which forces the players to learn spacing on the perimeter.  Alex likes to have the offense go for one minute straight while shuttling in new defenders, creating different individual constraints during the offensive reps.  I have begun using this concept in our JM3 Pick up games with the "Outside the Arc" rule.  For example 3x outside the arc forces outside shots, drags, overloads and spacing that resembles the 3 on 2 that can happen on man up in a 33 set vs a box and one.  While the  perimeter play in drags, carries, overloads, 2man games and ghost screens is great learning, the most impactful part of this game is the kids learn to use hitches to set up screen shots.  It's truly an outside shooting game.  In both women's and men's lacrosse players look to drive more than they look to shoot.

One very interesting constraint Sarama has implemented in his small sided games is if the defense get to neutral after 2 triggers the rep is over no matter where the shot clock is, This forces the offense to act on affordances while it rewards the defense for stopping two consecutive actions. 


One big topic for Alex and me was on the importance and focus on deception.  "It's very easy for the defense to cover a trigger if you're just walking into it" says Sarama.  

A really cool example of how Sarama teaches deception in his offense is in setting picks, where he asks his players to have Triple A Rating: Always Arrive Alone, meaning run a trigger where the defender is trailing the play..  When the picker's defender is in position to communicate and execute a defensive coverage, the two man game is far less likely to create an advantage.  Players must use different types of deception to gain a Triple A Rating.  Using fake cuts, changes of speed, triggers before triggers like Rams, re-picks, or backdoor cuts will cause defenders to work hard to cover a fake action making it impossible to cover the second action.

BE SURE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL! We have been uploading a ton of content that will help you shift to the next gear.


We are in the process of ramping up the content on our JM3 YouTube Channel with videos, webinars, breakdowns, training clips, men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse, box lacrosse, podcasts and more!  Over the past five years, I have produced endless instructional lacrosse content and now I'm going into the JM3 archives and sharing some of my all time favorite stuff!  Hopefully this will give you a thirst for more!  Please note that the YouTube content is the tip of the iceberg.  I literally have 15,000 videos on my Vimeo and am creating new ideas, new drills, new games, and advancing new concepts on a weekly basis.  Please subscribe to the channel and if you want more, become a subscriber to the CTP!


We talked about the way Steph Curry uses deception to get open?  He looks like he's doing nothing and then, "Bam" he makes a cut and is using a pick to get an open 3!

If you want to learn more about this, definitely check out the webinar Colin Munro did on the Virtual Lacrosse Summit this past October titled, "How to be the Ultimate Picker."

One rule Alex employs in his scoring system is in a game to 15, three triple A ratings wins the game despite the point totals.

Remember this: "It's impossible for these behaviors to emerge without opponents without good task constraints,"  Then It's the coach's role to be intentional about the use of constraints:  Informational constraints such as, "Use deception" can take a normal 2 on 2 + one and get the players being creative and deceptive.  Task constraint such as Triple A Ratings can induce deception as well. 

Another interesting comment Sarama made about made about  the use of deception was about teams  that aren't running Principles Based Offense, where the same motions are repeated, with set motions and movements: "If they'r not deceptive there's no chance to create an advantage against a good defense and that goals scored would be when players break script"

Differential Learning

This topic is fascinating!  While the Constraints Led Approach and Non Linear Pedagogy is the ultimate way for players to recognized and act on the affordances being offered in a situation, Differential Learning is a way to work on techniques in isolation.  The concept is repetition without repetition.  The scientific term is Infusing different perturbations on the performer, which means different movements cause the body to adapt.  We're not doing it because we're going to do it in a game.  As Nicolai Bernstein states, it creates "degrees of freedom when the human body has so many ways to move", widening the ways players move and can help them find a better solution,

The worst thing you can do is hammer out the same reps over and over again, which means almost everyone's shooting and wall ball routines are the exact opposite of Differential Learning.  

An amazing story from Alex on this topic was about when he was in the NBA Lakers facility and was looking at the free throw stat board, where top scores in their "100 free throws in a row" were posted.  Dwight Howard posted a 96/100 score, yet his free throw percentage that season was 46%.

For shooting workouts, Alex has his players work on different shots every time, on different surfaces, sometimes with different lighting, or with different balls.  

An example of translating Differential Learning to lacrosse would be doing stickwork but making sure every pass is different: change up distances and angles, how hard you throw, leveraging different ways of throwing and catching.  A great way to leverage Differential Learning in lacrosse is to have the athletes use different sticks: boys sicks, girls sticks, long poles etc.  Boys using girls stick will help their catching as well as create an appreciation for quick release and accuracy, whereas girls using boys stick allow them to be more creative in their use of passing and shooting angles as well as faking. 

Using tennis balls is another great way to create adaptations.  Tennis balls are harder to catch and easier to throw and don't hurt as much when they hit you!

The fact is in lacrosse catching and throwing with a stick is much harder than throwing and catching a basketball with your hands and for beginner and intermediate players repetition without repetition in improving their coordination of catching and throwing on the run at various distances and speeds is critical.  For advanced players, I would do 5-10 minutes of a warm up, but would move right into drills or games with the context of teammates and defenders to work on stick work.

My stick work approach is to do up and down the field 2man and 3man stick work at different distances and speeds to work on the ball handling of transitional situations and then do uneven or all even keep away drills to work on the half field stick work.


In Sarama's Conceptual Offense, Triggers are picking actions used for the purpose of trying to create an advantage.  He has two player actions, "Duets", three player actions "Trios"  and to a four player actions "Quartets".

Sarama color codes the offense in Green, Yellow, and Red.  Green is transiiton where there is no need for triggers.  Yellow is early offense where the defense isn't set and a quick 2man action can get you a quick bucket.  Red is where the defense is set, and the situation is completely neutral and Sarama will run a Trio or Quartet like a pick for the picker look or "Spain" look.  Involving more players in the action there is more likely to be a defensive breakdown.

The brilliance of this offense is your triggers are meshed together creating unlimited combinations and endless opportunities for creating advantages through the affordances which ar provided through the defensive coverage of the triggers.

In lacrosse, one of the biggest problems with running on ball pick actions is looking to score off the 2man game itself, rather than looking for outlets to create Nations Looks or Give and goes.  The entire defense is watching the on ball two man game are are gearing up to help.  When the ball moves to a third player it distracts the defense from the advantage created.  If the slip was open, it will still be open, but with a better passing angle.  Further, by moving the ball in the middle of simultaneous 2man games, your off ball action turns into an "Approach 2man" on ball action while your on ball action turns into an off ball action when the ball moves, allowing the offense to flow and continue to create advantages, whereas holding the ball kills the flow.

If your offense is creating advantages off your nations, don't jam it up with another pick.  On the other hand, if your offense isn't creating advantages on 2man actions, adding the pick for the picker creates more complexity for the defense and you will more likely have a breakdown.


Running triggers is not natural.  Players won't just pick on their own, therefore strategies to get your teams using triggers is critical!  A very simple way Alex gets his players to use triggers is this: you have to run a trigger within 3 seconds or it's a turnover.  I've created a similar rule in competitive 6v6 or 7v7 games: if players aren't running simultaneous actions a 12 second shot clock starts.  I like this because it still gives them them a way to win the rep and allows for free will, but encourages them to use pick actions constantly.

JM3 + Sarama Consulting

One exciting topic at the end of the podcast is the fact that I'm teaming up with Alex to give the coaches I work with an opportunity to have Alex consult with their staff.  Alex brings such a fresh approach that any coach would gain from this coaching version of differential learning! 


JM3 SPORTS uses the FreeLap speed timing system with our Athletes along with Tony Hollers Atomic Speed Workout and the results are phenomenal! 

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Have a great weekend!













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