A Lacrosse Weekend 4.30.22

Uncategorized Apr 30, 2022

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. 

Harvard's 5man Rotation

What is a 5man Rotation anyway?  The way it was described to me 30 years ago by my boss at the time, defensive genius and former Yale Head Coach Mike "Bones" Waldvogel, is: it's just a 4man rotation (locked crease), but when the defense runs out of people and can't get there, the crease guy rotates to the ball and a backside player collapses to cover the crease. 

Watch the way Gerry Byrne's Harvard EMD does just this.  They sit in a Box and 1 with the crease guy trying to play all ball side cutters, but ready to roll off the crease and play the ball rather having a farther player rotate across or down.

Dartmouth EMO Seal Play

Last week I wrote about the merits of the Drop Down 33 or 231 set up citing advantages such as:

  • Lower crease & feeders = closer to the net = more difficult coverage for backside defender in 5man rotation or string guy
  • Difficult longer spacing between wings and top center = longer rotations
  • More difficult rotations when the. ball goes through X = defenders rotate to new spots in 4man / 5man rotations

The look below is a cool little EMO play Dartmouth ran against Penn last week taking advantage of the Drop Down 33 advantages with a slick little seal play.

When the ball goes through X and up to the righty wing shooter, the top center defender has a challenging rotation to that wing.  Immediately, the backside wing has an equally challenging rotation to get to the top center which Dartmouth takes advantage of with a seal for their lefty shooter.  I think this will give you a nice opportunity if you have a shooter who can get it off quickly!

The Off Ball Curl / Pop

One of the most underutilized opportunities in men's and women's lacrosse is the the off ball 2man action where the picker sticks a pick and the cutter cuts hard over the top on a curl cut.  When the defense wants to keep match ups and not simply switch all actions, this hard cut will result in either the cutter being open or in an off ball double team, leaving the picker open for a shot or a dodge versus a difficult approach.

I first learned about this concept when studying Bobby Knight's Motion Offense instructional videos back in the mid 90's.  I even traveled to Bloomington to watch a few IU practices in January 1994.  Coach Knight put a huge emphasis on concepts like "The ball finds the action" and reading screens and the pop  / slip and curl / pop actions became a part of offensive teachings. 

I recently searched for those Motion Offense videos on YouTube and screen recorded this particular clip showing "Cross Screen" technique where the cutter uses a step back to create separation allowing him to cut hard over the pick on a curl or cut hard on a refusal.  In both cases, it's almost impossible for the picker's man not to have to help or the cutter.

I was watching the St. Anthony vs St. Ignatius game with one of my JM3 Athletes and noticed a great example of this curl / pop concept used by St Anthony's!   Notice how the curl cut resulted in a brief off ball double team opening up a great opportunity for the picker to attack a tough approach. 


Girls Lacrosse Small Sided Games 

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For those of you that do not know me, my name is Mike O'Neil, and I'm the head girls coach at Coach at Kent Denver School, where we regularly utilize small sided / small net games that we call "pick up"! 
This past Monday, we had a light day of practice where we played 2x, 3x and 4x pick up lacrosse for 75 minutes. Before we dive in deeper, let's talk about the style of pick up: 
1. Use boys sticks - you will be able to do high level skills that you are able to do with your girls stick and a real ball. if you use your girls stick and a tennis ball, you will not be able to do as much. 
2. Small nets (3 feet by 3 feet or 3.5 feet by 3.5 feet)  - this is SO CRUCIAL! When you play small sided games, it is too easy to score on a 6x net and you will not need to pass as much, you will not need to take great shots, and you will not need to be as deceptive. And, you can scale these games on multiple nets by having your field players play goalie. 
3. You are using a tennis ball - there is no shooting space, 3 seconds, dangerous shots, full speed play - coaches, do NOT be refs, the players manage their own game. 
4. Always compete - winner court and loser courts. 
Now, the game I would like to highlight is called "2x" with a shot clock and 1 shot limit. 
2x consists of "2 on 2" but the defensive team has to put a player in goal. The offense checks the ball up top and has ten seconds to score and is only allowed 1 shot. If you score, you get the ball back, if you do not, it is the other team's ball. 
How is this game beneficial?
A 2v1 is one of the most fundamental situations in all sports! In this game, defenders are going to sit back and try and knock the pass, play two and "slow play" as much as possible. The offense must learn how to draw and dump, making defense the defense fully commit to the ball or punish the defense that doesn't play the ball with a shot.. 
Due to the dangerous shot rules in girls lacrosse, players are rarely taught the Screen shot" where you shoot around your defender. Screen Shots in women's lacrosse are legal and safe if you shot it around the defender's legs.  This game requires players shoot around their man and the pick.
Not only are shooters learning how to shoot around the defense but also shoot deceptively on the goalie and a small net. If you can score consistently on a 3x3 net, you will be a successful shooter on a 6x6 net!
The shot clock and 1 shot rules add different elements of pace, poise, possession, the clutch gene, taking great shots, and finishing under pressure. 
Give this game a shot, feel free to reach out with questions  and send some videos! My email is [email protected]

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Getting Looks, Getting Better, and Getting Rest

The topic this week is about the balance between "getting looks," "getting better," and "Getting rest." From my experience, most families get so caught up in getting looks that it adversely impacts their ability to get better and many times, players do so much, they actually get worse!  If your focus solely on getting looks it is usually at the expense of rest, recovery and sleep, which is arguably the biggest secret to the recruiting success. 

The summer is a huge opportunity for aspiring lacrosse players!  Remember that college coaches will watch you play live multiple times over the summer.   If a coach notices improvement from June to July in seeing you do new skills it can be very impactful. On the flip side, I can't tell you how many times i've heard coaches say they've seen players look tired or slower as the summer wears on. 

The best Division I Lacrosse programs in men's and women's employ a model of constant individual skill development during the season with the idea, the best way to make your team better is to make your players better.

You need to adopt this mentality all summer!

If you are a rising sophomore and younger, I would recommend 3 summer club events and 1or 2 prospect camps.  Spend your summer playing pick up, getting stronger and faster, and just having fun being a kid!  If kids spent even a fraction of the time that most players spend in the car / on planes / at events / in hotels with an intentional plan to get better, you would see massive results.  

If you are a rising junior or senior trying to get recruited , you're probably going to need to do 6-8 events in June and July remember this:

The biggest key to success is allowing for legit recovery between events.  It is a HUGE competitive advantage to be at 100% when most of the competition will be exhausted from over doing it, with back to back events.  

Think about this: if you run a 4.8 forty yard dash but you're only at 95% because of not enough rest, you will run a 5.04.  That is a big difference!

If you're a committed athlete, then your focus should be 100% on the list below!

Top 3 Things To Make Time For This Summer

  1. Get Faster by doing the Feed The Cats Program of timing your 40 yard sprints 2x per week.  Get a FreeLap Timer and if you're properly rested and fresh, over the course of a few months you will get significantly faster and you'll exactly how much faster!  If you're not timing your sprints, int's not speed Training. 

    Freelap Pro BT112


  2. Lift weights 2x per week.  Use this Mike Boyle strength program at LacrosseAthlete.com
  3. Play pick up games: in my opinion, your greatest opportunity for improvement is in your backyard lacrosse games, street lacrosse games, tennis court lacrosse games, and sandlot games.  The hard part isn't learning and mastering cutting edge skills, but rather to have the presence of mind to use those skills.  Pick up games is where it happens!
  4.  Get 9 hours of sleep per night!  Nothing will help your performance as much as sleep!

Note, if you want to play pick up, all you need is a goal!  Go to BoxLacrosseGoals.com

Have a great weekend!




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