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!
How To Be A Great Shooter
If you want to learn how to be a great shooter, listen to the Darris Kilgour Podcast from a few months back. Darris is hands down one of the smartest lacrosse minds I've ever met. A Native American who grew up on the Tuscarora Reservation just outside of Buffalo, Darris grew up playing backyard lacrosse at home and box lacrosse just over the boarder in Ontario.
One of Darris's most brilliant concepts is the idea of learning how to be a deceptive shooter by shooting on a goalie with no ball. Does this sound crazy? I've tried it and found this method of teaching deceptive shooting extremely effective because scoring as your measure for a good shot is removed from the equation. The entire goal is to score the "Air Ball" by moving the goalie or making him late.
Below is a video of my daughter and her friends playing a little pick up at Darris's house. This was a weekly activity last summer (and hopefully this summer too!). Darris is a SICK box goalie and before we play our games, he has all the kids do finishing drills on him and he teaches them as he talks smack and robs them of goals!
This past week in the JM3 Coaches Training Program I presented to our subscribers the topic of Zone Offense. Every team has to have a plan for zone offense because you never know when you're going to see one! One of the big challenges in coaching is there simply isn't enough time to do everything you want to do. If everyone had 15 minutes to devote to zone offense everyday, I'm sure we'd all have a great zone offenses! The reality is you only have around two hours (minus warm ups) of practice time per day and the list of things that have to be worked on is LONG!
Check out the list below and as a quick exercise, write down how many minutes you should spend each day on each category. (The skills alone could suck up half your time!)
After having completed this exercise, you will quickly realize there is so much to do and so little Time! This is why I teach the concept of, "Killing three birds with one stone." A great example of "Killing three birds" would be doing the 3v2 Keep Away drill below. Here we are working on carries/drags, throwback techniques such as pull passes/reverse pull passes/questionmarks/btb passes, roll-offs for zone offense / EMO, all types of faking, and twister passes
Another example of Killing three Birds" would be using your motion offense as a look in Zone Offense. First of all, one of the biggest mistakes many coaches make in their zone offense scheme is they don't dodge! When teams play zone, many times it's because they don't think they can stop you 1v1. If you move to a zone offense where all you do is carry, roll off, move the ball and take outside shots, you're playing right into their hands. Practice running your regular motion against zones and you will find a ton of success while saving a ton of time!
Here are some examples of Duke running their man to man looks versus zone.
The first look is Duke's standard 132 motion. Dodge the short, mirror with the crease, fade the backside midfielder, the ball side attackman clears through while the backside wing attackman reads the situation and either cuts the middle or steps behind.
The second look is Duke running their classic Pairs look where you will see a dodge and mirror with one pair, a fade and a cut the middle with the other pair, while two players are low on the pipes.
The third look is Johns Hopkins running a straight 141 and dodging the wings. You can see how open the backside gets when the defense has to slide and help to the dodge.
The fundamentals of man to man offenses as well as the actual motions themselves are found within zone offenses too. Examples of such fundamentals: dodging / drawing a slide and making two passes to the backside, lateral spacing with follow and float spots, and two players inside either double cutting, high low, or picking inside. I'm not saying you shouldn't have some great zone offense looks as well, I'm just saying that using your man to man offense versus zone is super effective and time efficient. Give it a shot!
College Lacrosse Recruiting
In this blog, I would like to write about highlight videos. Everyone knows highlight videos are critical to the recruiting process, but I don't think most folks know the details of what' should be in a great highlight video.
Good competition: If you put highlights that are clearly against weak competition, it degrades your film. Don't bother
Good Highlights: if your video has to have clips of shots that aren't goals, or passes that aren't assists, you probably don't have enough content for a great highlight video and you're better off waiting until you do have enough.
Groundhog Day: if your highlight video resembles the movie "Groundhog Day" meaning, it shows the same play over and over.... the same lefty finish or the same alley dodge every time, it is less impressive than the highlight video that has an wide array of skill usages.
Skill: how skilled are you AND how many skills do you use in your highlight video? How many different types of dodges do you use? How many different feeds, finishes, shots do you employ? How many ways do you know how to get your shot off? The top offensive recruits in the nation are using a ton of skills.
Defense: make sure you know what college coaches want. A highlight of a defensive player stripping a dodger seems appropriate for the video, but if it's terrible fundamental defense, it could get you crossed off a list!
Off Ball Defense: your posture will be noted. If you are standing straight up on your videos and not in an athletic position, sideways to the ball and turning your head, you will likely not be recruited.
Communication: As a defensive player, your highlight video won't usually allow for communication to be recognized, with the exception of "Pointing." Pointing a recovery, pointing to a midfielder to move the ball to the point attackman or pointing a midfielder defensively to the point attackman so the point defenseman can stop the ball will stand out on your video.
Toughness: make sure you have some highlights of hustle plays and toughness plays. A great ground ball, a ride, or a big time slide and "Hold'm up" where you get there with a great approach and slow the dodger down, and let the on ball player strip the ball.
Vision: showing your ability to see the field with quick decision passing, moving the ball off the ground, one-timing a pass on the one more. The ability to deliver great passes and deceptive passes that buy time for your receiver is a part of what college coaches are looking for.
Athleticism: if this is your calling card, then make sure you are properly highlighting it. I remember seeing a highlight video of a super fast midfielder who was a converted pole. The kid was fast as hell, but not super skilled. His speed was obvious in the between the lines situations, great on ball defense, and on ground balls. The problem was, he included a ton of alley dodge clips where his lack of great skill was also obvious. Make sure you highlight your strengths.
2man game: knowing how to play pick and roll is a pre-requisite for most DI offenses in men's lacrosse and is coming on quickly in women's lacrosse. If you have no 2man games in your highlight film it probably shows a lack of fundamental offense that your team is playing. Learn how to play 2man game!
On Ball Defense: pressure the ball! If you are a shorty, get out and try to get a chunk. If you are a pole get your lead poke approach down perfectly and get your stick in your man's gloves. Coaches will have a much easier time evaluating you if you pressure!
Goalies: Coaches want to evaluate your ready position, your technique on saving shots, inside saves, outside shots, come around shots, pipe to pipe, whether or not you false step or dip, your quickness, the quality of shots your saving, your athleticism, as well as your ability to throw a great outlet. Make sure you have all of these bases covered versus great competition!
Shooting: One thing college coaches need as much as anything is great shooters! Time and room shots, on the run shots, and finishes. Sure coaches want to see velocity and accuracy, but they also want to see great shot selection (no bad angle shots or too far out shots), deception (do you move goalies) and finishes where you gain angle coming across the middle. If your film shows you scoring goals where you are "Fading" behind the net it's not great. Can you shoot low high wind ups? Leaners? Screen shots? Double Fake Finishes?
Physical Dodging: there are a ton of quick guys out there who have a great change of direction and can beat players at the high school level. When you get to the college level, dodgers must be physical. When a dodger makes a move either he will initiate contact on the recovering defender or the defender will initiate contact on the dodger to get him off track. Turning corners and initiating contact is what college coaches are looking for! If you're not physical, you're probably not a good enough dodger.
Post ups: there is a time and place to post your man up and the best players do this. Beating your man with speed and quickness is great, but what happens when you get to "The Island" and your man is still right there? It's time to have moves to get your shot off. Squared up Post up, Shuffle Post up, Back in Post up all have an important place at the highest level and whether you're a midfielder or an attackman you need to have this in your repertoire and you will separate yourself from the pack if you film has sick post up moves.
Position-less Lacrosse: Versatility is critical. You need to be able to play out front, behind and on the wings. You need to play on ball, off ball, and in 2man games. Your video should show this. If you are a midfielder, you should be skilled enough to play attack. If you are an attackman, you should be athletic enough to play out top.
Do You Have Questions?
Check out JM3 Video Assessments if you want to see how to leverage your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and get instructions on how to improve your highlight video. The feedback on these assessments has been off the charts. Here's an email I received a couple days ago from a 2020 committed player:
Also, if you're looking for a solution for how to learn the nuances of the game, if you don't have a cutting edge coach that can teach you the cutting edge skills, check out the JM3 Academy, honestly it is SO SICK because it literally teaches every variation of every skill in a totally practical way!
Have a great weekend!