A Lacrosse Weekend 4.6.19


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!

Phi-Lacrosse-ophy Podcast with Brodie Merrill

This was a great interview with a guy who is known as the G.O.A.T. for Long Stick Midfielders, even though he never picked up a pole until he was 16 or 17 years old.  Six years in a row he was MLL Defensive Player of the year while also garnering Defensive Player of the year, Transition Player of the year, and Rookie of the year awards in the NLL.  The '05 Georgetown graduate grew up playing box lacrosse in Orangeville, Ontario and has worn the "C" with most teams he's ever played on.  Brodie is one of the most down to earth, humble people you will ever meet.  We discuss the creation of The Hill Academy, a prep school in Ontario which has become a lacrosse powerhouse, founded by Merrill, his brother, and his parents in 20.  Brodie also talks about his mentors like the late great Dave Huntley.  I think you will love this podcast!

Click here for Brodie Merrill Podcast

Coaching Lacrosse

One of my all time favorite drills is 4v3 Popcorn.  A pretty high level drill, this is a classic "Box on the Field" type of drill with a pass down pick down ball side and a cut the middle and cycle on the backside.  I am a firm believer of integrating man to man / 6v6 concepts of dodging/carrying, picking, off ball movements with ball pressure and rotation into uneven situations.  Playing your "Un-evens" like they're "All-even" allows you to work on more skills and concepts than the traditional man up style of playing uneven situations like this 4v3.  The movements, dodging and ball pressure create a more dynamic situation that creates an awesome developmental environment.

As you can see from the video, this is a great drill for pregame warm ups!  It's challenging on the offense to deal with long poles playing them aggressively while they use a pick and need to throw the ball across the top under pressure.  The dodgers learn that sometimes it's easier to get your hands free by getting into your man rather than trying to create separation.  Defensively, it teaches how ball pressure covers up for off ball deficiencies.  

For more info about coaching lacrosse check out the JM3 Coaches Training Program, Click here!

College Lacrosse Recruiting 

Today's topic is on repeating, re-classing, red shirting in Kindergarten, taking a PG year....There are a lot of different versions of this practice and whether you agree with it or not, it's a reality that impacts recruiting.  PG years have been going on forever at the New England Prep Schools, where the extra year of academics propelled kids into a better school even if they had a slow start to their academic career in HS.  Likewise, New England Prep schools have always had incoming students repeat freshman, sophomore or junior year for as long as I can remember.  The practice of redshirting your kid in Kindergarten was popularized in Texas football, but happens in lacrosse regularly as well, albeit more with boys than with girls.   In all of these examples, there is a full commitment to taking an extra year and there is no denying the advantages academically, athletically, and maturity wise.

The "Re-classing" concept is newer.  When I was recruiting Canadians to the University of Denver, they were usually older.  Geoff Snider for example was a 22 year old freshman.  This was before DI was recruiting Jr A Box Lacrosse as extensively and before early recruiting. Canadians like Geoff were often times chasing the hockey dream or not necessarily even planning on US college.  When you recruited a Canadian and asked him, "What year are you?" they might reply, "What year do you want me to be?"  The point is, if the coach wants you and you want the school, you can figure out a timeline that works.

I remember when ND attackman Ryder Garnsey was a junior in HS in the fall of 2012 and early recruiting was accelerating.  Ryder had slipped through the cracks a little bit, but Notre Dame recruited Ryder if he was willing to take a PG year and commit to the class of 2015 instead of his regular grad year of 2014.  Ryder committed to ND and eventually attended Phillips Andover for a PG year.

Soon thereafter kids began re-classing regularly.  I remember the recruiting class of 2015's first commit was UVA's Ryan Conrad  which occurred in June right after his freshman year.  The feeding frenzy of early commitments caused spots to be gobbled up quickly leaving good players without a home.  The solution for those 2015 kids who got missed?  Re-class to 2016.  The advantage was you could repeat without the commitment of repeating.  These 2015 kids would simply sign up and play as 2016's on club teams or showcases with the intention of a PG year if they got recruited by the right school.  And if they didn't get recruited by the right school?  Then they would just apply to colleges in their original grade.  No harm, no foul.

Obviously, this created more competition for spots in the class of 2016 as the 2015 re-class kids were bigger, stronger, faster because they were a year older.  A domino effect ensued that has continued and as early recruiting flourished, folks were re-classing as 8th graders in order to be a better prospect.

Obviously, anyone and everyone is a better prospect as a repeat or a re-class.  One would think coaches might see through the practice or re-classing and conclude that the great performance of the older athlete was fools gold.  College recruiters do take everything into consideration when evaluating an athlete, but in the end they are looking for the best players they can find relative to the class they are recruiting.  Further, any coach would rather have a 20 year old freshman than a 19 year old freshman, just like NCAA hockey programs who like older athletes too.

Re-classing allows for the student athlete to play out three different tracks.  The first track is simply applying to colleges in your original graduating class (the way we all imagined it would happen when our kids were babies, before college athletics was a consideration.)  The second track is as a recruited student-athlete in your normal graduating class in Division 1, 2, or 3.  The third track is as a re-class situation where if the right school recruited you, you would wait an extra year to go to that college.  

The advantage to the re-class versus a repeat are many.

  • Repeating usually means having to change schools to private school or go away to boarding school. Many families chose re-classing so they can keep their kids at home and at their same school.
  • Repeating is expensive!  Private day schools cost 30K per year while boarding schools are 50K plus.  It's a big financial commitment when there is no guarantee of recruitment, whereas re-classing there's no commitment other than, "if a school like Harvard recruited me, I would take a PG year."  
  • Repeating is a full extra year commitment, whereas re-classing is a full year commitment only if the school that is recruiting you is worth waiting for.  It would be a bummer if you repeated a year only to end up at a school you could have gone to anyway.

If the name of the game is to be the best prospect you can be in terms of academics, athletics, and as a person, then it makes sense why so many folks, re-class their kids.  The interesting phenomena that is occurring is kids are re-classing, their stock goes up drastically, then schools actually recruit them in their original grade.  Whereas, with out the re-class, their stock may not have been high enough to get any attention at all.  I have seen this time and again.

For a great webinar on college lacrosse recruiting, go to Click here.

Communication Advantage

With the new recruiting rules that ban coaches from communicating with prospects until September 1 of junior year, re-classing has its advantages.  Let's say you are a 2020 right now and you play this summer as a 2021.  DI coaches could offer you a spot or a scholarship in the class of 2021 even though they can't engage in these conversations with anyone else who actually is in the class of 2021.

How you and your family decide to approach this topic is up to you, there is no right or wrong decision.  It is nice to know that you have options if for whatever reason your child slipped through the cracks in the college lacrosse recruiting process.

Virtual Lacrosse Summit Q2

The week of April 15 I will be conducting round two of the Virtual Lacrosse Summit!  The VLS is like "Shark Week" for lacrosse and the best part is it's free!  Six presentations per day for four days on a myriad of topics spanning men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse, box lacrosse, field lacrosse, recruiting, business and more!  You can tune in live during the week and there will be a binge session where all the talks will be available for you for free!  Here is a sneak peak of some of the speakers and topics:

  • Jim Berkman, Head Coach Salisbury University, "4 Favorite Drills"
  • Joe Spallina, Head Coach Stony Brook University, "Backer Zone"
  • Billy Olin, Assistant Coach Cornell University, "Goalie Play in Women's Lacrosse"
  • Tom Schreiber, the best player in the world! "How Box Helps Field & Field Helps Box"
  • Brodie Merrill, MLL/NLL/PLL All-Star, "Developing The LSM"
  • Damon Wilson, The Goalie Rat, "Developing Youth Goalies"
  • Ric Beardsley, One of the greatest take away defenders of all-time, "Making Defenders Great Again"
  • Andrew Towers, Head Coach PLL Chaos, 
  • Greg Gurenlian, The greatest FOGO of this generation
  • Spencer Ford, GM Atlanta Blaze, One of the best feeders in MLL history, "Utilizing the 'Hang up' to get more assists"

Have a great weekend






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