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!
This week I had a great lacrosse conversation with Northwestern Women's Assistant Coach, Scott Hiller! Scotty and I came up through the ranks together: he was a 4x All American Attackman at UMass while I was playing at Brown, he coached at Harvard while I coached at Yale, and we both played in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League for the Boston Blazers. Scotty and I reconnected about 7-8 years ago as I started coaching girls lax and my daughters' teams, and we have kept in close touch over that time with frequent and often epic lacrosse conversations.
This conversation will not disappoint as we touch on his lacrosse journey from men's lacrosse to women's lacrosse, the development of women's lacrosse in terms of rules and stick technology, and some great conversations about philosophy of offense, player development, and 2man game. Scotty is truly one of the best people you will meet in the game of lacrosse and a brilliant lacrosse mind. Click here to listen and I hope you Enjoy!
Advocacy in College Lacrosse Recruiting
Today I'd like to write about the role of "Advocacy" in college lacrosse recruiting. Advocacy is a misunderstood word and I would like to shine a light on the realties of recruiting advocacy. You will hear parents say, "So and so club is really good at marketing their players," or "If you don't play for this club you will be blackballed because college coaches will call so and so club director about players (from this city) and you don't want him to give you a bad reference," or "So and so club organization said they will get me recruited and the other club will not."
Read the thread below where USC Women's Assistant Coach Deemer Class and legendary coach and former Maryland Head Coach, Dave Cottle chime in on a tweet where a seemingly disgruntled parent is complaining about the way club teams "Promote" players. .
The one major truth that both of these guys are stating that I totally agree with is,
"Player's abilities get them recruited." This is a fact. By far the most important part of the recruiting process is getting better or being good enough. There is now way marketing or promotion will make a college coach want to recruit a player that is not good enough. Period!
Relationships And Advocacy
Let's establish the fact that relationships do matter in all areas of life and this holds true in college lacrosse recruiting. College coaches have a network of HS and club coaches, alums, and friends that they leverage in the process of finding out about prospects. Without questions coaches will put more stock in some opinions than others and they will also value some relationships more than others.
For example, if a club or HS coach hard sells a player who turns out to be sub par, that club / HS coach will likely not be trusted in the future. On the other hand, if a club or HS coach is consistently, honest and accurate with evaluations, a college coach will go back to that well for information and players.
Further, the director who runs a top tier club organization will often times get more respect and attention from college coaches because coaches want access to that club's players.
If a club director doesn't have relationships with college coaches, if they simply don't take the time to build relationships or reach out on a player's behalf, it can be a disadvantage to the prospect. It won't matter at all if the prospect is a physical freak... those kids never have to worry about getting recruited!
Let's say a college coach is deciding between two players that are very similar. That coach will be more likely to take the player recommended by someone they trust and someone they want to do business with in the future.
Will a relationship guarantee recruitment? Absolutely not. A HS or club coach can no more guarantee recruitment than they can blackball a player and hurt their recruiting. Back to the concepts of the Tweets above, the player must get the attention of the coach by his or her play on the field.
This pic is of me and UVA Head Coach, Lars Tiffany just after wining the 2019 Lake Placid Championship. LT and I were captains of the '89 Brown squad.
The Realities of Advocacy
As Head Coach at the University of Denver I recruited three recruiting classes ranked by Inside Lacrosse Top 10, I brought multiple teams to the NCAA Tourney, and was Founder / CEO of the biggest club organization in the nation where we had sent hundreds of players to Division I. I have as good of a resume in this business as anyone, but this doesn't mean I can get someone recruited.
Here's what I can do based on the Laws of Advocacy.
To be clear, the reason I can probably get a college coach to take a look at a player is because I don't waste their time with players that are not at their level (yet). I use the word "Yet" just like I use the words "Right now" (I don't think UVA is going to recruit you "Right now" because...."). The words "Right now" aren't just a nice way of saying you're not good enough, they fit in to the number one law of recruiting, "Being good enough" and "Getting better"
This fall one of my JM3 Athletes committed to Princeton and is the perfect example of the power of getting better and of the "Right Now" phenomenon. Players are like stocks and when they get good enough there are buyers and their value goes up. This particular athlete had a good summer, but I just knew it wasn't the right timing to talk to the UVA's of the world about him, Then came fall and this kid's game just popped! His skill set and confidence were unmistakeable. It was then that I sent his film out to the big boys.
This fall nine JM3 Athletes, boys and girls, committed to the following schools: Duke, Harvard, Cornell, Brown, North Carolina and Princeton, Williams, and Mercer. I can tell you unequivocally that they were all recruited because they were really freaking good! Their games "Popped" at right time. I can also tell you that the role of advocacy factored in and often times from multiple advocates.
My number one responsibility with JM3 Athletes is to put them on a trajectory for being "Really freaking good" at lacrosse. My second responsibility is not just to be an advocate, but to connect my athletes with other credible advocates. I have found that when a player is good enough and coaches are hearing great recommendations from multiple, reliable sources, it is impactful.
If you want to learn more about college lacrosse recruiting, check out the JM3 Recruiting Portal where I have compiled my content from blogs, podcasts and webinars in one place!
The Role of Speed In Recruiting
Without question, coaches are looking to recruit speed! Coaches want all kinds of athletic traits and they also want kids who have experience in the weight room, but above all else is speed.
If you want a model that will G-U-A-R-A-N-T-E-E your son or daughter gets faster, listen to this podcast with world renowned strength and conditioning coach, Mike Boyle. The model is amazingly simple: Timed 10 yard sprints with a Brower timing system. Email Brower at [email protected] or call Dan at 801-572-5540 and mention "Lacrosse."
As Mike Boyle says, "If you're not timing yourself, it's not speed training."
Why? Because the only way to get faster is to run your fastest. And if you're not timing yourself how do you know? The difference between an average time and a personal record is the difference between 98% and 100%. When you run 100% there are neurological responses that don't happen at lower levels of intensity.
These timing systems aren't cheap, but neither is paying for speed training. In the long run you will save money and get faster with this model!
For so many of us, we have no idea if what we're paying for is a good strength program. Is it safe? Is it working? Not to mention, we're in a pandemic and not too many people are pumped for their kids training with randoms.
Go to LacrosseAthlete.com if you need a strength and conditioning solution! My kids have trained remotely through Mike Boyle's program for the past year and it's been a game changer! Plus, you will get access to JM3 Academy and Backyard Curriculum if you sign up now!
Thoughts from a Hitch Connoisseur
This past summer I noticed a very interesting technique being used by many of the best players in the world from both the PLL and MLL. This technique was being utilized by Canadian / Native box players as well as traditional field players; The technique is called "The On The Run Hitch."
I would call myself a connoisseur of hitches and hesitations and I find this hitch to be unique and effective! Let's dive in!
The best players in the world use hitches (a shooting posture) to control defenders. Hitches will alter the approach of a defender, manipulate the goalie, bait their man to check them, (opening a window of opportunity) or make one last ditch effort to defend a shot when they're not actually shooting.
Look at this epic Austin Staats exhibition of Multi-Hitching. In this case, Staats is setting his feet to fake shots and keep the defenders guessing, jumping, reaching, etc.
Watch how Miles Thompson not only alters the approach of a defender, but how the goalie reacts! This element of hitching, making the goalie move, is totally underrated!
Check out the video below (watch the girls!!!!!) from this past summer where you will see kids doing Multi Hitches! When I'm on Zoom calls with JM3 Athletes, the topic of Multi Hitches comes up a lot! The concept isn't hard to understand, the skill itself isn't hard to do either, but we honestly don't see much of it in field lacrosse. We see a ton of Hitch and Go moves, but rarely Multi-Hitches. I wonder why?
If you want to learn how to get this going in your neighborhood, I highly recommend you subscribe to the Backyard Curriculum! It will be the best $19 you ever spent!
The Underhand Hitch
I've been smitten with this hitch for a while, executed by Connor Fields below, because it allows a player to set their feet to shoot or fake a shot and simultaneously protect their stick by holding it low. Once the dodger has leverage, are physically engaged with their defender or in close proximity, where an overhand posture would result in a trail check, the underhand posture is safe and effective. This posture puts the defender in a difficult position: If they try and trail check, the dodger can tuck it, if they try to check on the dodger's gloves, the dodger will have "open window" of time to shoot or continue to dodge.
Below are some pick up game examples of Underhand Hitches from this past summer playing with family, friends and JM3 Athletes!
The Jump Shot Hitch
Just as there are different ways to shoot the ball, there are also different ways to hitch. Many players shoot Jump Shots, which is a very effective shot because of the ability to release the ball slightly late, holding a goalie up a little longer and therefore handcuffing them. The Jump Shot Hitch is a phenomenal skill that will literally leave defenders reaching and watching! Watch this JM3 Athlete making defenders look silly!
The Up The Hashes Jump Shot has a pretty slick Jump Shot Hitch opportunity too. Check out this pick up game example.
The On The Run Hitch
This Hitch has slightly different applications because unlike the hitch examples above, you can execute this move without having to slow down, break stride and set your feet. This hitch will cause defenders to check, reach, and make one last ditch effort to stop a shooter from shooting on the run.
To understand how this hitch works, you must first understand how shooting on the run works. Watch the way this player loads to shoot on his Jump Shot Foot (his left foot) and then shoots from his right foot. This load allows the shooter to generate power as well as create a subtle hesitation.
Watch the video below of players loading up on their Jump Shot foot only to fake! The fake is often times very subtle, but you can clearly see the reaction of the defenders who check, trail check, reach, stop their feet, make one last ditch effort to stop the shot, etc!
If you like the content in my blogs and podcasts and want to learn more about how to teach or learn skills / concepts like these, I highly recommend you check out the Coaches Training Programs or the JM3 Academy. There is not a deeper and more practical model for men's and women's coaches / players anywhere on the web.
Have a great weekend!