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!
Putting Your Big-Little Invert On Steroids
Rolling a 3rd player behind the net on Big-Little Inverts is a simple and incredibly effective way to create a very challenging situation for the defense. In this 3man action behind, the law of "Addition by Subtraction" is in full effect, opening up the middle and leaving a 3v3 in front of the net.
3man actions create complexity of communication and decision making for the defense yet are surprisingly easy for the offense. Think about this, you're on defense, your man is picking for the ball and you say, "Johnnie, pick right" and then immediately someone is telling you, "Pick right!" This Spain Pick is one of many mind twisting situations that are hard even to think about much less process and communicate in realtime!.
Another great reason to roll a 3rd player behind, either into the play or backside, is because it allows for better flow, ball movement, and ability to swing the ball behind the net and attack the weak side. Bobby Benson ran these types of actions for years at Hopkins and his offense was always incredibly efficient.
Below, are some clips from Deerfield Academy where their instructions were to send a 3rd player behind during B/L inverts, either into the ball or behind the ball while the off ball players continued to pick, slip, and seal. The looks created are awesome!
Colleens Corner: Penn Charter Pressure Defense
Penn Charter Girls Lax is on a roll. We have continued to stay undefeated and moved up in the national rankings to #19. This past week we had a great defensive game vs. Lawrenceville. We played high-pressure defense with our second and thirds slides ready everywhere. A lot of times high school girls are too scared to pressure out or too scared to get beat. Our defensive unit all bought into the high-pressure defense and we made mistakes but we had each other's back so it did not even matter. When a defensive unit clicks and is able to see the 2nd and 3rd slides it is really fun to watch.
As a team, we are going to keep building on our principles of fundamental defense and communication. Playing solid 1v1 defense, slowing the girl down, and then forcing them to help. Play with your feet at all times, the check will present itself when you do all of the little things right first.
Check back soon for the video!
Creating Game-like Environments
Leveraging concepts from Free Play and the Inner Game of Tennis: The coach’s role in practice is to create environments where the players learn the principles and “Fundamentals” of the game and of competition, implicitly and intuitively through playing. Try not to tell your players what to do, what not to do, or how to do it. Instead, let them find the solutions in the environments you create.
The key component of a practice environment is to make your practices “Game-Like.”
What does Game-like actually mean? First, is creating a situation that occurs in a game. However, many coaches get so caught up in the “Part-Whole” method of development trying to master small parts, that they lose sight of the importance of the context that actually makes a situation Game-like.
For example, is a 1v1 Game-like? The actual dodging and defending is realistic (kind of) but without the context of defenders trying to help stop a score and other offensive players working together to produce a score, it is not Game-like. Without sufficient context, an environment cannot be Game-like.
One key for coaches in creating Game-like Environments is finding the balance between context and reps. Of course a full field game would be the ultimate in context but there aren’t enough chances for players to touch the ball. On the other hand, wall ball can provide the ultimate in reps, but it lacks all context and therefore can’t make you better at playing the game. Each coach must dial up and down the context depending on the skill level and age of the team.
The sweet spot of context and reps for HS teams is 4v3, 4v4, 5v4, 5v5, 6v5, and 6v6. This does not mean I will never do drills/games with more or fewer players, but this is where I invest the most amount of time.
Here's a video or a Rumson-Fairhaven, NJ 5th grade team running a 5v4 competition. RFH Youth Lacrosse is a subscriber to the JM3 Coach Program and we have a weekly Zoom call to teach their coaches to create Game-like Environments!
One last way to level set context and reps is through constraints of space, time, or goal size. Part of the reason a 3v2 West Genny is lacking in context is because it is too easy to score. Yet, a 3v2 using a box goal allows for a Game-like Environment to exist along with. A 3v3 drill using a 6x6 goal would not be realistic and too easy to score, whereas a 3v3 on your Natural Side would be an excellent environment. Last is the constraint of time, such as a 10 second shot clock in a 4v3 game.
The important part of creating The Game-like Environment is to make it competitive and to have minimal interference from the coach. Lacrosse games are not controllable situations. Lacrosse games actually seem to spin out of control sometimes, they slip away from you (the coach) and when it comes down to it, the players must make the plays and execute the decisions in games mostly by themselves.
We must make our practices Game-like through both context and competition.
All coaches know very well that athletes love to compete, but too often coaches prefer repping drills because competitions are often messy creating the feeling the team could accomplish more in a drill where the coach can perfect the situation. Unfortunately, when we (as coaches) perfect the rep with our voices or our scripting, it is like Fool’s Gold.
How many times has your team successfully executed in practice, but failed to to do so in the game?
The Game-like Environment approach is simple: morph any drill into a game by creating a scoring system that rewards the winner and or has a consequence for the loser. In the Practice Drills/Games section below you will find many examples that will help you build your own Game-like Environments.
Not only will your players love competitive situations, but you will be amazed at how the hard-to-teach elements of leadership, communication and team play will naturally emerge. Allow the winning or losing of the game to motivate and teach your players fundamentals and principles of lacrosse.
Morphing a Drill into a Game
Check out the video below of an Uneven Build-up drill morphed into a competitive game. This is build up of: 2v1, 3v2, 4v3, 5v4 box & 1 set up, & then 5v4 again with a motion (pick on and off ball). The offense wins with four goals, the defense wins with four stops and 3 goals is a tie.
You may wonder why we are not strictly following the context concept in using a 2v1 and 4v3. The reason is sometimes I will compromise context for fun. Kids love 2v1's and 3v2's so I will sprinkle them in here and there. You will notice we have two reps of the 5v4's which gives us great context on both sides of the ball.
On this day, In the 5v4 reps, we used two different looks, a Box & 1 set up and a motion set up with picking on and off ball. I chose the Box and 1 because it creates a scenario where the off ball defenders, particularly the backside defender, must cover the crease. The motion set of picking on and off ball is just a way of creating an "All Even" look in an "Uneven" situation
Have a great weekend!