A Lacrosse Weekend 7.20.19


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!

Virtual Lacrosse Summit

We just finished another epic Summit with some of the best presentations we've ever had.  Click here to get access to this incredible line up of speakers!

A Summer in Canada

My daughters and I spent the month of June in Niagara on the Lake, (NOTL) Ontario that was truly one of the best experiences a father could ever hope for!  I got to play pick up games with my daughters and their friends pretty much every day! This was the second summer that a couple of my buddies and I rented a house in NOTL so our daughters could play girls box lacrosse in St. Catharines, ON and it was the ultimate opportunity for the kids to get better at lacrosse and have an awesome summer!

I purposely gave the girls their space by going them access to my car and working at my buddy Sean Allen's house during the days.  There was a really solid group of girls AND boys who worked out together, hung out together and got better at lacrosse together.  There were a fair number of visitors to, which created a really fun dynamic on and off the sandlot and box arena!

One of the best things this motivated group of kids would do is at 1030am every morning, they would do their own work out: lift, agility, wall ball, yoga, or sprints then they would go to the beach on nice days or go to a mall if it was raining.  They had the freedom to (and my car!) to cruise around and explore.

Then at 330pm every day we played lacrosse!  Some days, if we had a box goalie available we would play box and local St Catharine's Midget age boys would show up making for a really cool environment!   On most days we played pick up games, which is basically box lacrosse with out the pads

The box lacrosse the girls played was a great environment to learn how to play faster, deal with physicality, and how to play with very little space.  Kind of like in the movie Dodgeball, where they said, "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball." if you can score in box lacrosse, you can score in field lacrosse!

This past week I did a webinar for the Virtual Lacrosse Summit titled, "Teaching Girls Box Lacrosse".   Click here to access FREE content from the VLS!  This webinar shows all the drills and explains the concepts behind the benefits of box lacrosse! 

The Sandlot Model

By far the most impactful and most popular activity of the summer were our daily pick up games.  We played many different versions of pick up games with different goal sizes and numbers of players that all provide an excellent environment to learn how to play.  Boys and girls played, middle school, high school and college age kids participated, Americans and Canadians, true box players and field players all took bart each day playing the creator's game!

 This past week Casey Wheel, Head Strength and Conditioning at coach tweeted something along these lines that I thought was profound,  "Learning sport is like learning a language.  You're better of gaining fluency before you study the vocabulary and grammar."  Playing pick up games is how you learn the fluency.  Once you have mastered the fluency of the game you are ready to learn and most importantly incorporate the highest levels of skill and concepts.  


Phi-Lacrosse-ophy Podcasts with Harvard Head Coach Devon Wills

I love talking lacrosse with great coaches and players, and in this podcast with Devon Wills, she falls into both categories: great coach AND great player.  One of the all time greatest women's lacrosse goalies, Coach Wills takes us through her journey of playing and coaching.  From Colorado Academy to Dartmouth, Denver and USC with different and meaningful experiences in leadership and coaching.  Now, finally Devon is the Head Coach of Harvard Lacrosse.  Learn what coach Wills is looking for in a player as well as her offensive, defensive, player development philosophies.  You will love this podcast!

Nations Looks

In this blog, we are discussing a very interesting variation of 2man game called "Nations." First, let's define what the "Nations" is."  A Nations look is a two pass pick and roll.  Meaning, if you can imagine a pick and roll where the dodger feeds the picker, a two pass pick and roll or Nations look would be where the dodger feeds a third player who feeds the picker.  Nations looks are both effective in creating offense but also a powerful tool for developing skill and IQ in players.

 Nations looks are utilized regularly in basketball as you can see from the video below.  One reason why Nations looks can work better than the standard Pick and Roll (PNR) is that the rest of the off ball defense has a harder time helping to the "Roll man" in a Nations look than in a classic PNR because the ball movement forces attention away from the roll man.   See below as the two low help defenders would have easily been ready to rotate the the PNR, but are basically stuck in the middle between between their man and the nations cut as the ball moved to the third player.

 In the clip below, the PLL Chaos run a beautiful "Up Pick Nations" look where Myles Jones dodges the alley, Jake Froccaro sets the pick and Myles Thompson is the feeder.  There are a few notable nuances here.

  • The Chaos run this play using a short to short pick, which is smart because it almost guarantees a switch.
  • The picker sets his pick with his butt while facing the net ad cuts with his stick in his inside hand giving him better angle to finish
  • the Feeder, Thompson positions himself so he's available but as tight as possible without being checked and executes a "One time" quick stick pass.
  • Jones is the dodger and he does a good job of drawing the switch, but is slow to get rid of the ball.  One of the biggest keys to nations looks is the initial dodger getting rid of the ball ASAP giving the picker more time to receive the ball.  In this instance, Jones honestly waited too long and the play worked because Froccaro's back up pick actually tripped the short.
  • You can see the backside defenders are looking to help, but were a little late.  If the Chaos want to run this more than once, they will need to have a little bit more backside movement.


Below you can see the use of an Up-pick Nations look in transition offense of girls high school lacrosse.  This is a great look to run if you have three righty's and one lefty on the attack.  This is basically the same thing that the PLL Chaos ran in the clip above.

Big-Little to an Up-Pick Nations

Here Cornell is running a Big-Little invert vs Yale's COMA slide invert defense.  Cornell kicks the ball up and over to a righty alley dodge with an up pick.  In this case, the aggressive switch is similar to what would have happened even with out the pick: the pole had to slide to the backside dodge.  I like to call it "Mirror Nations" when you basically generate a slide out of a 1v1 and a mirror and look to reverse the ball back to the open mirror man.


Topside Nations: One of the looks I really like is running an up-pick nations look for the topside dodge, but be able to skip it down to the same side feeder.  This against the grain look is an awesome variation that allows players to dodge topside off the up-pick and snap a skip pass down to the righty feeder and throw a nice right to right pass to the nations cut itself.



Re-Pick Nations: In box lacrosse, the re-pick is a deadly technique because it makes the defense play back to back pick and rolls, which is more difficult than playing one pick and roll.  Often times second pick surprises the defense and they don't communicate well.  Here were were working on a Nations look out of our Re-pick look.


Clear-Through Nations: We have discussed how you can run Nations looks on up picks, down picks, re-picks and mirrors.  See below how you can run Nations looks off of clear throughs!  Anytime the defense is sliding or showing off a clear through (similar to a mirror situation) you can take advantage of the Nations look.  See below as USC women's lacrosse runs Clear-Through Nations.


Pick up Games: we play a ton of pick up games in our household and here's a great example of a 3v3 plus a goalie pick up game where the players communicate and execute a Down Pick Nations.  


Teaching Nations Looks: I love this drill for teaching Nations Looks and two man games.  If you are interested in learning more coaching box lacrosse or field lacrosse, men's lacrosse or women's lacrosse, College, High School or Youth, Click here to learn about the Coaches Training Program.  It is by far the richest lacrosse coaching content source on the web.

  • Nations are SO much more than just a good play.  Nations looks teach lacrosse!
  • It teaches the roll man to roll to the net
  • When running Nations looks, sometimes the defense doesn't switch, which leaves the dodger open on a give and go.  This forces the dodger into the very good habit of attacking the middle rather than fading away looking to feed the roll man.
  • The dodger will get in the habit of getting the ball out of his stick quickly.
  • The feeder in the nations look learns to see who's open before he receives the ball because it's possible to read if there was a switch or not as the pick is occurring and before the pass is made.


 Have a great weekend!


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