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!
Pandemic's Impact on Recruiting
At the outset of the pandemic, the NCAA enacted a Dead Period for DI coaches which means coaches are not allowed to have on or off campus contact with prospects. Coaches can't evaluate prospects, can't run or attend camps, and are restricted from meeting with prospects or prospects' families on or off campus. The Dead Period has been extended to the end of August, which has completely eliminated the summer of 2020 from a "Live" evaluation perspective.
Film has become critical! With good quality film and a good camera angle, coaches can actually achieve a more accurate evaluation on film than they could watching live play because they can pause and rewind. That said, coaches can't feel 100% comfortable with a prospect from film alone because it's impossible to see the speed, quickness, size or competitiveness of the of the athletes until you're on the sideline watching up close. Unless coaches have already seen a 2022 prospect from last fall or completely trust the opinion of a HS or Club coaches evaluation, most coaches will have to wait until they can see a prospect live.
Another thing a coach can't see on film is a prospect's interaction with teammates and coaches, how players conduct themselves before games and in huddles, or figure out who's parent is the obnoxious bull who rips refs, players and coaches on the sideline. Coaches also love to listen for kids who can really communicate on defense or be vocal leaders all over the field. On film, coaches will have to see if kids are pointing or gesturing to see if they're good communicators.
Seeing prospects live will have wait until fall, unless the NCAA pushes back the Dead Period again. Let's not forget how much coaches hate fall evaluations! Most feel that the quality of play is diminished by weather, out of season rustiness, and such a short recruiting window of three November weekends. With fall sports in jeopardy at so many schools, it's hard to imagine prospect days occurring at most institutions.
It will be interesting to see what the NCAA will do regarding the September 1 date for the class of 2022. My prediction is this date will be pushed back 10 months to July 1st 2021. I've heard this idea is under discussion and to me it makes sense. There is no way coaches are going to be able to meet with kids / invite them to campuses this fall in any kind of a safe manor. Furthermore, some schools are going to be open while other schools are going to be closed, which creates serious inconsistencies. Couple this with the fact that coaches haven't been able to evaluate kids, it just makes more sense to wait until next summer.
Skill Stacking: How To Become The Best In The World At Something
While the pandemic is changing recruiting timelines and interrupting the ability for coaches to watch players play live, the fundamentals of getting recruited remain exactly the same. By far the most important fundamental, with everything else a distant second, is being the best possible prospect.
I find this article on Skill Stacking, titled, "How To Become The Best In The World At Something" particularly relevant in the college lacrosse recruiting process. The article teaches that rather than trying to be the best in the world at one particular skill or attribute, where the law of diminishing returns will have a real impact, try to become a unique combination of skills that can make you the best in the world at your combination!
The mistake that so many players and parents make is to focus too much on one skill rather than create a multitude of skills that can give a player more versatility and make the player more attractive to coaches!
Not all schools value all of these qualities equally, but you can see how a coach like Lars Tiffany at UVA might be looking for a tall, quick, super skilled, tough as nails, lefty pole with a 1300 SAT who plays in a good program and doesn't need scholarship money.
If you want to learn more about college lacrosse recruiting, check. out the JM3 Recruiting Portal. I have compiled three years worth of blog posts, interviews, webinars, videos and podcasts to create a source for great recruiting information.
I have done podcasts with dozens of DI men's and women's coaches and have edited out the excerpts on recruiting. Find out what Lars Tiffany is looking for in a player. Understand how Kelly Amonte-HIller thinks about recruiting character!
One of the exciting things about this product is that I will continually add new and updated content as I produce it!
Watch this video for a quick tour of the content:
How I Use Skill Stacking with my JM3 Athletes
The JM3 Development Model leverages the "Skill Stacking" concept, creating players who will have strengths in multiple areas, and a great combination of qualities. I have been developing players like this for many years and which is why the the teams and players I have worked with all have similar traits of slickness and IQ.
To clarify, in the JM3 Athlete Development model,
1. EVERYONE learns to play like an attackman: the smartest and most skilled player on the team, EMO skills, comfortable on wing and behind, a mastery of all three phases of dodging, and big picture IQ of the X's and O's of the game.
2. EVERYONE learns to use deception. Deception, on both sides of the ball is a true sign of "Fluency" and is the difference between good and great.
3. EVERYONE learns to play like a Box Lacrosse Player: in-tight skill stick skills, handling in traffic, finishing, deceptive shooting, Post up moves, 2man game, feeding, cutting, and faking;
4. EVERYONE learns midfield re-dodges and slide manipulation, and shooting on the run
5. EVERYONE learns the Notre Dame defensive principles of Off Ball and On Ball defense and communication.
I am a big believer in playing to your strengths and developing your strengths as opposed to focusing too much on improving weaknesses, but I also believe that there are skills that everyone can and must learn to a level of proficiency. Most of the time these skills have more to do with "Feel" and "Fluency" combined with confidence and grit more than sheer speed, size or power.
Stacking skills will allow you to be the best version of yourself and stand out amongst the competition!
When I produced these academies, my goal was literally to teach every variation of every skill to players in a "Do it at home" environment. This 10 chapter course shows you drills you can do by yourself, with a friend, or a small group.
If you wan to check out the academies, check out the video walk throughs below!
A lot of kids are working hard, but few are actually getting better at the game itself.
Read this article by Raymond Verhejein, a world renowned soccer coach: Isolated Technique Training Slows Down Development.
Most of the world is banging out #Reps on the bounce back, #Reps shooting balls on empty nets, #Reps dodging cones. #Reps in the speed ladder while cradling at the same time. While there is value in sharpening skills, these #Reps won't actually make you better at playing the game.
In quarantine with my three kids, I created The Backyard Curriculum which is my greatest creation for player development. My kids and JM3 Athletes need to ACTUALLY get better at the game of lacrosse which means: We have to dodge people; Shoot on humans; Play defense versus live dodges; Manipulate defenders in 2man games on and off ball, etc.
I would say the best way to characterize The Backyard Curriculum is it teaches a "Feel" for the game.
JM3 Athlete Program - Sold out
The way I like to describe what I do is put athletes and families on a New Trajectory of development. This program does provide recruiting advice and advocacy when the time comes and it's going to be more competitive than ever! However, if you're not good enough, there's nothing to talk about. Being good enough is by far the #1 priority. My job is to help kids become good enough.
The results I've had with my JM3 Athletes has been phenomenal on many different levels: recruiting, honors earned, huge improvements, access to better club teams, and a true understanding of the game and their game!
JM3 Athlete Recruiting
It will be more competitive than ever to be recruited to play high level college lacrosse. Things get more competitive every year anyway, but now with the COVID crisis, we have a log jam for the next four years with every college lacrosse player receiving an extra year of eligibility. With out question, this will have a trickle down effect on the current 2021's-2024's. College coaches will plan for the potential of 5th year players by saving money and spots. We will see more re-classing as pretty much all 2021's will become 22's!
With the fact that summer is going to be a least partially if not fully lost, college coaches will be in a position where they simply won't know the class of 2022 as well as they want to and advocates will become more important than ever. If you listen to my podcasts, you will discover how well I know the majority of coaches in college lacrosse. Having an insider in your corner is no guarantee, but it's helpful.
Will Your Kid Be Good Enough?
With the lost season and now the potential of a lost summer, how will your son/daughter keep improving? By doing more wall ball? By dodging cones and doing speed ladder work? By shooting on empty nets. I have create a backyard curriculum to go along with my Sandlot Model approach that has given my JM3 Athletes a huge leg up on the competition! My athletes have made tangible gains in their dodging, shooting, and 2man games.
If you want a taste of the type of detail my JM3 Athletes receive, watch this video assessment I did for UVA All-American Michael Kraus.
Imagine getting this type of feedback every week!
I used to offer Video Assessments as a product for the general public, but now I only do this for my JM3 Athletes.
JM3 Athlete Zoom Calls
I do weekly zoom calls with my athletes where we watch film together:
The bottom line is there are a lot of motivated kids out there that need help optimizing and learning. The kids that do this will have a huge advantage over those that a simply pounding out #Reps.
This program is currently sold out, but you can learn more and get on a waitlist. I will likely have an open enrollment opportunity in July.
Have a great weekend!