A Lacrosse Weekend 5.8.21

Uncategorized May 08, 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!

Reading The Defense

I've written a lot about the incredible benefits of the Principles Based Offense with none more important than the opportunity for coaches to prioritize and focus on arguably the most important part of any offense: Reading the Defense.  In traditional offenses, coaches must spend time, installing, teaching and repping, all of the different sets, motions or plays in the playbook.  Once the players know the offenses, the coaches can begin teaching the various "Reads" of how opposing teams will defend against each set/motion/play.   The advantage of the Principles Based Offense is a coach can invest more time in teaching how to read the defense because there is no wasted time in remembering sets/motion/plays and therefore taking it to higher levels.

Below are some video examples of what I mean.  These girls are taking reading the defense to higher levels!  Our offense at ThunderRidge HS is is simple: pick for the ball, pick off ball and move the ball.  The simplicity of this offense allows us to focus on teaching our players how to read the defense in 2man games.  One of the biggest keys in reading the defense in 2man games is first to recognize whether the defense is switching or staying and  second, if they're staying, are they going under or over the pick.  Most players just cut hard, shoulder to shoulder, looking for the ball al the while.  The problem is when players don't read the "D" and just cut hard looking for the ball is they usually run right into defenders.

If in off ball 2man game, if the defense is not switching and going under the pick, the cutter should Flare Cut (pop) and if the defender is not switching but is playing you tight, then you want to Curl Cut by inviting them over the pick.  The next step after teaching players to read the defense is then to manipulate and control the defense.

We practiced these reads and control in a 2v2 + Feeder situation and were able to implement them in the game.  As a team, we have a long way to go, but the ability of players to read and control the defense is our upside!  What good is an offensive motion of any kind without a deep knowledge of how to take advantage of the defense.  Further, as you'll see in the videos below, 2man game mastery creates unfair advantages for the offense.  The other cool thing is that the reads, postures, hesitations, concepts etc are exactly the same in on and off ball 2man situations.

When players first start setting a lot of picks in Principles Based Offenses, they tend to get in the habit of slipping everything, which works great against switching defenses, but so much against the no switch or late switch 2man defenses, which is one of the reasons more athletic defenses try not to switch and fight over / under picks.  It is critical for offensive players to understand how to take advantage of teams that are trying not to switch..

Watch the girl below demonstrating the no switch reads and control.  When she recognizes the defender is going under the pick, she sells cut and uses a Flare Cut.  When the defender bites on her invitation to play her over the pick, she Curls.

 Here in a game, you can watch the same girl from the drill, set her man up for both a "Flare" cut and a "Curl" cut.  The first clip, the defense goes under, she Flares and was wide open to receive the ball in space like Steph Curry for a 3 point shot.  In the second clip, you will see how she invites the defender over the pick and gets a pretty clean Curl cut. 

 There are so many nuances to reading and controlling the defense in 2man and 3man games it must be a major emphasis.  Running a 2man game won't work in and of itself.  Learn the reads!

Top 10 Lessons Learned from Pickup Lacrosse By CNU Head Coach, Mikey Thompson

In the summer of 2019, I started Amped Lax Pick up in Virginia Beach. It's a super informal group of local kids, high school players, college players, and coaches. We simply post a time and place for games (usually public tennis courts to keep the ball in play), bring the small nets and tennis balls, throw our sticks in a pile to pick teams and play. Some version of 3x "3 by" is normally the game of choice. No parents (unless they want to play), no $, no refs, no coaching, and to use the Amped Lax motto, "no excuses." It's competitive, it's fun, it's a great workout, and the skill development opportunities are endless! Here are the Top 10 Lessons Learned playing in this free play environment. 
1) We have to finish with our sticks to the middle to create angle. Alley shots with our sticks to the outside are no good. 
2) We learn to look off passes (no-look passes). Look through the on-ball defender and deceive the off-ball defender with your eyes!
3) Ground balls still win games! Pick it up and move it right away. 
4) Using 2 man games will suck defenders out away from the cage which opens up more space. Be creative with picks, slips, and off-ball seals. 
5) We use fakes to manipulate the on-ball and off-ball defenders. Learn to release passes and shots from different angles. 
6) We trust and reward our teammates for being in the right spots! If they are open, we throw them the ball. Catching is the hardest skill and they will improve with live reps. 
7) Constant communication on defense. Are we staying on drags and carries and rotating or passing them off/ switching? 
8) Playing goalie improves your finishing! Learn how to manipulate a goalie and throw it around him. 
9) We learn to be proactive and take initiative. Help set up the cages. Text a friend and tell them to come out and play. Clean up the courts! 
10) Learn to compete! All of those one-goal games give us experience in pressure situations. Learn to grow from failures.    

Have a great weekend!



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