A Lacrosse Weekend 2.27.21

Uncategorized Feb 27, 2021

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! Click here to read my blog.

Podcasts This Week

Inside the 8 Podcast with USC Head Coach Lindsey Munday and Colleen Magarity was an awesome conversation with one of the great players of all. time who has become one of the best coaches in Division I women's lacrosse!  I think you will love learning about the way she blends team culture and the development of the mental side of the game, the USC zone defense, offensive principles, what "Game Like" means, and college lacrosse recruiting.  Click here to listen!

A Lacrosse Philosophy Podcast with Inside Lacrosse Terry Foy, the smartest guy in lacrosse, will be a great listen as we touch on Division I men'a lacrosse story lines in 2021, Michael Sowers, how the Ivy League failed their student athletes, DI rosters and the transfer portal, and the state of college lacrosse recruiting and how IL's events have become important!  Click here to listen!

The "In Season" Podcast with PLL Chaos Head Coach Andy Towers is back!  We are so pumped to be talking lacrosse again and you will get to hear AT and me breakdown the DI landscape and tell funny stories!  I hope you enjoy as much as we do producing them!  Click here to listen!

The Principles Based Offense 

I have spent my adult life studying the great game of lacrosse and one of my favorite aspects of the game is team offense.  In both men's and women's lacrosse I am on a quest for the ultimate motion offense, an offense that is read and react, that takes advantage of Box Lacrosse concepts, and relies on principles and efficiencies that will provide the best opportunity for success through creativity, unpredictability, and fundamentals

Below are my offensive principles:

  • Deceptionthis is the over arching concept that makes an offense work.  The opposing coaches are scouting and the defense is reading everything you're doing 100% of the time.  
  • Possession: the offense must be able to retain possession versus pressure, and understand that possession wears down the opposing defense as well as provide rest for your own defense.  Further, turn overs often create transition opportunities for the other team.
  • Shot selection: relative to angle, distance, feet set or on the run and the idea of trying to shoot with your stick to the middle.  Shooting % is higher 10/10 times with your stick the middle as opposed to stick to the outside.  Further, bad shots that a goalie catches will create transition scoring opportunities for the other team.
  • Assisted Shots: score at a higher percentage than shots derived from isolation.
  • Leveraging the Natural Side:  With shot selection in mind, playing on your Natural Side allows a player to get their strong hand while dodging left or right.
  • Attacking from wings and behind: These angles have higher efficiencies than dodging from up to due to shooting angles and the power of the Natural Side. 
  • 2man game: have higher efficiencies than isolation (1v1) for several reasons.  First, there is a higher stick to the middle shooting percentage and second, there is a higher assisted shot percentage.  The concept of "Addition by subtraction" is in full effect with 2man games: if a defense slides to a 1v1 dodge, it leaves 4v5 off ball, yet when a defense has to slide to a 2man game, it leaves 3v4, more space bigger skip lanes etc.
  • Big/Little Picks: in men's lacrosse, where match ups are important for defenses, mixing shorts sticks and long sticks in 2man game creates serious challenges.
  • Ball Movement: spreads the defense out, changes the defensive responsibilities and creates new angles of attack and feeding, as well as assisted shots.
  • Facilitating ball swings: Swinging the ball from one side of the field to the other puts major stress on a defense that is predicated on sliding, crowding and helping ball side.  That said, the off ball players must facilitate ball swings by recognizing when a player with the ball might want to swing.
  • Moving the ball in the middle of 2man games: this is the most exciting topic I've come across in sometime because it turns on ball 2man game into off ball 2man game that like Nations Looks and GIve & Go's which not only create scoring chances, but disables the defense's ability to instantly play help defense upon the ball moving.
  • Picking off ball: off ball picking is both difficult to defend and makes playing team defense exceptionally difficult.   Picking, slipping and sealing while facilitating ball movement is the key.
  • Spacing: the concepts of opening up the middle, giving space for dodgers, space between off ball players to work together or not allow one defender to guard two are critical.
  • Be a threat: offensive players on and off ball must play as close to your defender as possible or be in shooting range when attacking.
  • Read the defense: players off ball must look away from the ball and recognize how the defense is playing in all situations, players with the ball must refrain from looking at your on ball defender!  At a minimum, ID the slider, see your outlets before you dodge!
  • Engaging 2 defenders: not just drawing slides with dodges, but engaging two defenders in 2man games on and off ball, on cuts, in gaps of switches and zones, 
  • Draw & dump: the defense wants to play "Monkey in the middle" the offense wants the defense to commit one way or another
  • Hang up at X: Someone is going to have to back up shots behind the net and be an outlet behind at times.  Using the goal as an a pick and hanging up your defender not only is difficult to guard, it eliminates a defender from the slide scheme. Watch the video below of how Grant Ament did this at Penn State. 

  • Balance the field: it is critical that an offense doesn't give up transition by having balance out top off ball (everyone can't be cutting or low).

When Principles Take a Backseat

Most coaches would agree that the principles of the offense are of paramount importance.  However, the paradox is that anytime we choose a set or a motion for the offense, our principles will naturally take a backseat.  So many times we will choose an offense to marry up to certain principles, but in doing so we stymie others.  

An interesting exercise would be to go through the offensive principles one by one with one of your offenses in mind, and see  which principles fit perfectly in that offense and which are lost.

Every coach wants to be multiple, which is why coaches try and have a full play book of options and looks.  "So many good looks, so little time." right?  What if I told you that if you use principle based offense your looks are limitless?!

Ask yourself this question: what is the advantage (for the offense) in running a set and or a scripted motion or choice of motions?  The answer to this question for most coaches, would be, "we know we can create a great look" or "we want a certain look", but this tactic not only eliminates endless motion options but also creates predictability and obviousness.  Beginning with the dodge that initiates the offense, every ensuing motion is predictable until the defense is flying around and coaches say, "Ok, now it's time to play lacrosse."  Why wouldn't we play lacrosse the whole time?

If you listen to the podcast I did with UVA Head Coach Lars Tiffany, you will hear Lars talk about his ability to scheme as soon as he knows what the offense is running.

Similar to player development in Free Play, ehe opportunity to run an offense in this unstructured manner will blow your mind if you dare to give up control.  

I am working this with several HS programs across the country in my JM3 Coach Program  who are running Principle Based offense and the results have been incredible.   I will be doing a webinar on this topic in the JM3 Coaches Training Program!   Stay tuned!

X's and O's With Mikey ThompsonBackside Exchanges 

We all love a good backside exchange as a piece of our offensive sets. It puts the defense in a predicament... do we keep our matchups and jeopardize our slide responsibilities? Or do we zone it up, switch the matchups, and remain in a position to help?

BUT backside exchanges can be even better! Here are a few ideas:

1) Change the levels of your cuts- Have the outside guy dive cut the back pipe while the inside guy pops to the high slot. This makes it much harder on the slider when the defense is zoning it up because now you aren't cutting right to where he already is! 

2) Pick off ball instead of just "exchanging"- We love 2 man game because it makes the defense make a decision. We can do the same thing off ball and get two defenders on one offensive player- freeing someone open. 

3) Make it a Mumbo- Try and seal your own man on the way in and then readjust your pick at the last second to pick for your teammate popping off the crease. If both fight through you might just find yourself wide open. 

*Conclusion- Don't make it so easy on the defense! The harder the slider has to work to help on the ball side of the crease, the more space it will open up on the inside for dodgers to take! 

Here is a 4 v 4 + 1 Drill that is great for working on 2 man, off ball 2 man, and swinging the ball. 


Colleen's Corner: No Expectations

Jamie mentioned above that we had an amazing podcast this week with Head Coach of USC, Lindsay Munday. In that podcast she mentioned her biggest advice on recruiting is "no expectations." This concept resonated with me right away as it is what I deal with every year during the recruiting cycle. Parents and players must have "no expectations."

There are so many amazing players that do not end up at their dream school because it just was not the right fit that year with what the school needed or maybe they went with another player. This process will then really devastate a player and her family if she created that expectation that that was definitely going to happen. You can take the exact same situation and if there was no expectation to receive an offer from the dream school you can easily adjust to another school with an open mindset. 

I know this is a lot harder to do than it seems. But if you can try to be mindful of your expectations and priorities throughout the process you will be more grateful for the process and it will not be as stressful for you or the club coach.

As as club coach I truly enjoy this process to help as a mentor and advocate.  I tell the players and parents where I believe that they can play and where I will help advocate for them. I never will make a guarantee that anything will happen. The process changes weekly as you learn where schools are mutually interested or not and for some it is easier than others. Everyone's process is a different timeframe and structure. 

So remember these 4 things and hopefully it will help! 

1.) No expectations

2.) Don't stop getting better and working on your game once the process starts. A lot will depend on a camp or clinic that a coach will make a decision.

3.) Do not compare your process to ANYONE else's. Your daughter is unique and talented and her process will be the same. 

4.) Make sure you have an advocate or a coach that can help guide you and just be a person to talk through any question along the way. 

 Have a great weekend!



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