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
The Huberman Lab Podcast
This podcast, by Dr Andrew Huberman, is a fascinating look at the science behind the power of free play. In the past five years I have been on my own journey with Free Play as a coach, as a player, as a dad, and of course with my JM3 Athletes. I have witnessed countless athletes blossom in amazing and even unexpected ways through the power of Free Play.
Huberman explains that play is an "important, fundamental, homeostatic-ally regulated aspect of our nervous system, which is a mouthful of nerd speak to say, play can change your brain for the better, and that is true for every stage of life."
Listen to this one minute excerpt from the podcast:
As Huberman says, true creators in all arenas of tech, arts, sport, business and science have engaged and continue to engage in versions of play, tinkering, and free form experimentation. "The themes are novelty, exploring contingencies, keeping the stakes relatively low (no adrenaline) and these are the gates to the holy grail we call neural plasticity"
Neural plasticity, can be defined as the ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections
One of the most important and counterintuitive concepts related to the power of Free Play is that "low stakes" games are where the most growing occurs. The biggest complaint I get from parents about Free Play is the game wasn't serious enough. This isn't to say Free Play can't be or shouldn't be competitive. Most good players would rather play in a competitive pick up game. The point is, amazing learning happens when players can explore the contingencies and "Tinker" with them which doesn't happen when you "Play up" with the best competition or coaching.
Watch the varying levels of Free Play from the video below as well as the world class skill on display!
Click here to listen to the Huberman lab Podcast on The Power Of Play.
The Backyard Curriculum
In the spring of 2020 during Covid Lockdown, the Munro family played a lot of backyard lacrosse. We were all depressed over not playing our various HS and college lacrosse seasons, so we made the best of it in quarantine. I was fully committed to the Free Play model of learning at that time, even though I didn't know the science back then, and I developed an entire curriculum based on what you could do at home with just a few people. I created games for me and my three kids to play utilizing small nets, tennis balls and no equipment. Games like:
Now that you've listened to the Huberman Lab Podcast, you know that the "Holy Grail called Neural Plasticity" can be found through playing pick up games in Free Play! Your kids can literally develop world class skill in the backyard. The Backyard Curriculum will show you how!
4v3 Crank Keep Away
This past week, down in Delray Beach, FL, I had the opportunity to work with Hotchkiss girls lacrosse! Hotchkiss has a great program run by coach Anna Traggio, and a slew of talented players including commits to UNC, Princeton, and Richmond. It was an amazing opportunity for me to teach Principles Based Lacrosse to a new group of athletes!
Below is one of my favorite keep Away games and i think the kids love it too! 4v3 Crank Keep Away! Boys and girls have a tendency not to throw the ball really hard when making passes and are therefore not used to catching passes thrown very hard or "Cranked" at each other. I used to have kids do Crank Passing drills where they would play catch at 20 yards apart and pretty much shoot the ball at each other. Then I thought of turning a stick work drill into a keep away where there is a defender on ball and off ball defenders looking to pick off the passes. This opens up amazing learning opportunities for reading and influencing the defenders through deception.
We have the girls crow hop and drag while they are looking to see who they're going to crank the ball to! It's super fun and great for your offense and your clearing game.
The Feel Good Move
Back in the early 2000's I was really into teaching and learning about hitches of all different types: wind up hitches, open hitches, closed hitches, pop out hitches, etc. In the fall of 2003, my Denver team was playing at a fall ball event at Yale and i can remember vividly one of my midfielders, Jeff Biggs, do a move and use a hitch in a way that I hadn't considered.
Biggs wound up, face dodged, and then did a hesitation move or hitch from a face dodged position which got the defender to bite hard. I guess because it really looks like a Face dodge Roll back.
My assistant at the time was Mike Law, our first DU All American, who literally hitched his way on to team USA and was a First Team All MLL Midfielder, tried the move out and was like, "That just feels so good." So that's how the Feel Good Move came about!
This move can be done with a face dodge, a spin move, or a split dodge. This move is just doing a rocker or hesitation with your stick in a position that looks like you're coming back to your strong hand.
Here's a Feel Good Move after a Face Dodge.
Here's a Feel Good Move after a spin move!
Here's a Feel Good after a split.
Have a great weekend!
An impressive Free Play Highlight Video!