Welcome to “A Lacrosse Weekend,” my weekly compilation of thoughts, ideas, history, stories, myths/truths about the great game of lacrosse! I hope you find it enjoyable.
Since arriving to Canada on Memorial Day Friday we have played a lot of lacrosse! This has been the ultimate in authentic development and fun. Playing with friends and figuring stuff out. Shooting on box goalies never gets old! Here’s what we’ve done in the past 3 weeks:
7 St Kitts box games
8 St Kitts box practices
5 pick up games (two on Darris Kilgour’s reservation)
8 backyard skill, footwork, or TRX work outs
7 shooting sessions on a box goalie
Summer Genesis tourney
FCA Weekend Training Camp
Needless to say, we’re taking the weekend off from lacrosse! All our friends left on Thursday for the weekend and the only thing on the docket for Lucy and me is a Harry Styles concert up in Toronto tonight with my good friend Sean Allen and his daughter.
Seanny Allen bleeds double blue. His dad was a Hall of Famer, his son is a ’98 (everybody refers to kids by birth year up here) and and he was that dad/coach who gave his time and expertise to so many kids through minor lacrosse and made a massive difference in the lives of so many!
My son spent five summers up in St Kitts with Seanny as his coach beginning at age 12. Sean was responsible for developing a ton future stars through minor and up into Junior A lacrosse. Players like Latrell Harris (Toronto Rock/Ohio Machine), Carter Zavitz (Princeton), Johnny Wagner (Marquette), Brett Erskine (Detroit), Alex Simmons (Denver), Owen Friesen (Canisius) to name a few played for Seanny…. Pretty good youth lacrosse team, eh?
The great news is Seanny jumped on the staff of the St Catharines Midget Girls Box team! How lucky are we to have a guy like that teaching our girls! He’s the best! And he can literally imitate anyone… he does an impression of me that makes me very uncomfortable! I like it better when he does good Steve Kraus imitation! “Hey Seanny, tell Michael he’s a puss!”
f you haven’t heard Seanny’s Pedro Guerrero story… I unfortunately can’t tell it here, but suffice to say Seanny gets calls at all hours of the night from friends who put him on speaker from bars all over the world and say, “Hey, can you just tell the Pedro story for me and my friends!”
So my goal with this summer was to try and get my daughter around great people and in awesome lacrosse environments.These environments were to be as fun as they were to be developmentally sound, with a mixture of box and field, structured and unstructured play. Finally, a lot of hang out time in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario with friends new and old! So far it’s been solid.
One of the coolest things that happened this week was I got to meet Matt Hasselbeck, who by the way is a super nice guy. I asked him if I could pick his brain about QB footwork and next thing you know he’s working up a little sweat demonstrating drop back techniques and showing me nuances to the foot work, like Joe Montana’s subtle deceleration step on his five step drop…. It was fascinating!
One of the stories Matt told that stands out most for me was about Jerry Rice, who Matt played with at the end of Jerry’s career. Rice, who was never a burner anyway, was not very fast by NFL standards when he got older. One time someone said, “Jerry, that DB covering you this week is so fast, how are you going to get open?” Jerry replied, “He’s only going to run as fast as I let him run.”
That comment is all about controlling your man and that he has to run at your speed. It reminds me of the Kevin Donohue saying about dodging: the race starts when you want it to. So smart!
Matt went on to say that Jerry often used his a head turn back for the ball (a look back fake) to set up his cut which would give him instant separation. That got me thinking about setting up changes of direction with subtle pumps or looks. Not that I hadn’t thought about this or even taught this, but sometimes it takes a new view to really resonate.
How To Get Recruited
Selfish vs. Unselfish
I actually hate this topic of conversation and messaging.“You need to be more selfish” moms or dads will say, even coaches will say! I think this hits the nail right on the side. The topic should really be “smart” vs. “not smart!”
If you are making “smart” decisions this is good! If you're making “not smart” decisions, this is bad. Passing up a good shot is as “not smart” as taking a bad shot. Not dodging when you have a great match up or opportunity is similarly “not smart” to hanging on to the ball too long or trying to dodge through double teams.
I will say that your chances of being recruited as a “not smart”/selfish player are probably better than the “not smart”/unselfish player simply because the coaches can only see what they see which is either something or nothing. So….. if you’re “not smart” you might as well be selfish.
How NOT to get Recruited
Summer club tourneys and recruiting is in full swing. It’s getting incredibly competitive as there are more and more kids playing and training at high levels. Normally I give advice on what to do, but this time….
1. Don’t dodge much
2. Never pass
3. Do a ton of “Give and stand-theres”
4. Dodge full speed right into slides
5. Play primarily on the “Wrong” side of the field as opposed to your “Natural” side of the field
6. Stand in your teammate’s way when he’s trying to dodge instead of clearing space, picking, or “Fading/Drifting”
7. Show how fundamentally sound you are by switching hands a lot… especially on man up!
8. Don’t initiate contact on your man when you dodge
9. Just run to your strong hand, one speed, one direction, don’t use multiple moves
10. Do a lot of palms up when your coaches tell you something
11. Wait until you get the ball to figure out what you’re gonna do
12. Shoot like you do in the back yard practicing on no goalie: staring down your corner!
13. Have your dad drop knowledge on college coaches on the sideline whenever possible
14. Shoot side arm alley shots
15. Stand up tall on defense and watch the ball
16. Play with a huge whip so you hit your teammates in the nuts when you feed
Best Kept Secret
The JM3 Video Assessment Tool is worth the look! What if I tell you that if you sent me 3 game videos I’ll guarantee to make you better! You will know EXACTLY who you are as a player, how to take advantage of your strengths, and put yourself in position to be more productive? Check out this video: https://vimeo.com/272801272
How to Coach Lacrosse
Thursday I did a “Game Breakdown” with Utah Head Coach Brian Holman of the Yale-Albany Game to give coaches a taste of the JM3 Coaches Training Program (CTP).137 coaches tuned in live to check it out and I’m telling you it is SO FUN! First of all, just watching that level of lacrosse is a blast, but to get the perspective of Coach Holman and hearing him relate what’s happening on the film to what he’s doing in a “Start up” situation at Utah is fascinating!
I spent a truckload of time putting together the CTP presentations from February through May on every topic imaginable! I have a problem of over-delivering…. For example I had 125 video slides in my presentation on Youth Lacrosse Coaching and Practice Planning! Why is it a problem?It’s not for you, it’s just a problem for me when I spend 12 hours on a presentation and I don’t have time to…. Mow the lawn!
“Game Breakdowns” provide a learning environment for coaches where they can watch a game in it’s flow, receive the entertainment value of in depth analysis, and learn how to find and leverage the relevant content of skills/drills/concepts from the membership area of the CTP.
I am planning on doing a “Game Breakdown” of box games in the near future…. I think this is going to be incredibly interesting!
How about this idea: do a “Game Breakdown” of a youth lacrosse game? See what’s really happening at varying levels of youth lacrosse. I’m going to stat the game for possessions, passes, dodges, off ball movements, see what the teams are running on both sides of the ball, and relate it all back to the drills/skills/concepts in our member area for the CTP.
The “I know what I’m doing” effect
Throughout my career from the early Yale days through the Denver days, the Mountain Vista HS days, my time with the Atlanta Blaze, and right up to now with the amount of learning I’ve done through producing the CTP - I’ve always felt pretty confident in my knowledge base and coaching competency. I’ve taken pride in being a student of the game and tried to put my time in accordingly.
The funny thing is anytime I look back at what I was doing, say, five years ago, I cringe! What was I thinking? Oh my gosh, I had no clue! But now, I’m good…. I know exactly what to do! You know what I’ll be thinking in five years!