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.
The Ultimate Way To Get Really Freaking Good at Lacrosse!
Summer is a chance for players to get a lot better, but instead of working hard, and worrying about showcases and shooting reps, how about just go out and play! And play a lot! Below is information I sent to my JM3 Athletes and Parents earlier this summer.
Playing pick up lacrosse (or any sport!) is by far the most impactful way your kids can spend their time this summer. Check out this podcast on the science of play and how it it literally creates neural plasticity. It will blow your mind!
If you are serious about learning how to help your players be the best they can be, you must dive into the concepts of the Constraints-Led Approach to development. The blog post below written by the brilliant coach, Alex Sarama, of Basketball Immersion is titled, "Making Sense of the Constraints-Led Approach in Basketball". It is phenomenal and critical information for all parents and coaches!
Free Play Optimization
Every week I watch hours upon hours of pick up game videos on zoom calls with JM3 Athletes where we study and learn from these various environments. Here is key feedback to help make your pick up games more fun and more impactful! You must constantly change the constraints within the games to create more and varied opportunities for adaptation. I recommend not playing more than two games in a row without changing the constraints.
Below is a list of ways I change up our Free Play Environments:
Goal Size: The biggest key to a good environment is when it's not too hard to score and not too easy to score. For pick up games, we primarily use these 3'6'' x 3'6'' goals from Hotbed Lacrosse for the majority of the pick up games we play with JM3 Athletes. The 3x3 net is just too small for any games larger than 2x and 3x. If the net is too small, the defense packs it in and the middle is never open. A bigger net allows players to shoot from the outside with screen shots, deception and touch which opens up the middle for cuts and 2man games. We will use 6x6 nets with goalies in on field environments, but we typically try to do larger numbers or constrained space to foster team play (passing and picking.)
Shot Clock: is a constraint that speeds up the game, creates faster ball movement, forces players to figure out how to get shots off at the end of the clock and doesn't reward turnovers with another possession. We have been employing a goalie count down shot clock regularly this summer with JM3 Athletes in Narragansett and it's awesome! For example we use a 15 second shot clock for a 4x game.
Boundaries: using sidelines and restraining lines constricting the space makes for a more challenging game. Another powerful space restriction is to restrict play to one side, using the far pipe as a boundary. Playing on one's Natural Side in games such as 3x on a side or 3v3 + goalie on a side creates amazing learning! We play a ton of Natural side games in Narragansett. We start out with 3x on a side, move to 2v2 + feeder on a side, and progress to 3v3 + feeder on a side.
Goalies: The goalie is a key constraint. Not using a goalie stick with your 3'6'' x 3'6'' net makes it too easy to score while using a goalie stick in 3x3 net makes it too difficult. Another great constraint is to utilize a goalie suited up with a helmet and cup which allows players to shoot more realistically and from the outside, opening up space in the middle for cutting!
Goal crease: This is a critical constraint because the most fundamental element of finishing is gaining angle and not going in the crease! When we use our Hotbed lacrosse 3'6'' x 3'6'' nets we always use a 1/2 crease (no crease rule behind) with a 9 foot radius. The crease is a defensive advantage balancing out a bigger net size so it's not too easy to score. We don't allow dunks and we play box lacrosse crease rules where you can run through the crease on offense off ball, you can reach in the crease for a loose ball, and you can land in the crease (if you jump) as long as you score before you land.
Numbers of players: Ideally you will have multiple nets at a session so you can play games with bigger and smaller numbers. Smaller games give a lot more touches while bigger games like 5x or 4v4 + goalie are more realistic for ball movement, simultaneous actions etc. In Narragansett this summer I lead off with small games on the Natural Side and build into bigger games to finish up the day.
Add a Feeder: when you're playing games like 2v2 on a side or 3v3 on a side, adding a feeder on the opposite wing creates the ultimate opportunity to learn both on ball and off ball 2man and 3man games.
Uneven vs All-even: Uneven games create more draw and dump, feeding, hitching and screen shot opportunities while all-even games create more on / off ball picking and dodging situations. It is critical to give your players a chance to explore all of the contingencies in these different games.
Boys Sticks, girls sticks, longer sticks, shorter sticks: I encourage everyone to change up what kind of stick they're using in pick up. For girls, using boys sticks is critical for learning skills they would otherwise probably not learn (especially with a tennis balls in pick up). Because of their smaller pocket, girls are less likely to learn underhand passes, shots, fakes and dodges. It is also much harder to "Reach" with a girls stick and a tennis ball which is critical for screen shooting and finishing. Obviously girls do learn soft hands, quick release and accuracy which is why, boys should experiment with girls sticks where new skill solutions emerge!. Even using a longer stick, a 46 inch stick, is an amazing way to learn new skills. For long poles this will give you the feel of your pole while playing with a shorter stick. Players become amazing at knocking down passes by keeping their stick tight and coiled, ready to strike and extend to intercept or deflect a pass. In addition ground ball play as well as dodging, feeding, scoring skills are very similar to playing with a pole! I've even had girls experiment with a stick of this length and it's interesting to see the adaptations. Note: if you use the short-long stick you aren't allowed to stick check at all.. no can openers, V holds, lifts etc.
Mixed ages and abilities: playing with older and more experienced players can raise the level of play while playing against younger and less experienced players allows for "lower stakes" and more chance for creativity. Mixing boys and girls creates a constraint that is great for both the boys and the girls developmentally, but even more impactful is the helps socially as well.
Check out the video below from our first week of JM3 Athletes playing in Narragansett, RI. We play every afternoon, sometimes pick up only and sometimes on the field with full equipment. If you watch this video closely you will see all kinds of nuances of the game that simply cannot be taught! See how many different constraints we create for our athletes to play and adapt in!
JM3 SPORTS uses the FreeLap speed timing system with our Athletes along with Tony Hollers Atomic Speed Workout and the results are phenomenal!
Start seeing speed gains in weeks! Get your FreeLap speed timer >>>CLICK HERE <<<
If you want to get Tony Holler's Speed Training for Lacrosse go to this link >>>CLICK HERE <<<
Getting the Most Out of Your FreeLap Timing System >>>CLICK HERE<<<
If you want to learn a more in-depth approach to all of the drills in this blog check out our premium content. Thousands of athletes, parents, coaches, and programs are subscribed to one of our memberships and have joined the JM3 community to take their lacrosse skills and IQ to an entirely new level.
Check out some of our game changing programs below.
Here at JM3 Sports we are opening up a hiring process for interns for social media, editing, content creation, and videography. We are extremely excited about the JM3 team and mission and are expanding to serve even more athletes and programs. We need your help!
Email me atjmunro@jm3sports if you have the skills and would like to become a part of our team.
Social Media Interns:
JM3 Sports is looking for a social media team that will help run the day to day operations of all of JM3 social media - Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Facebook
JM3 Sports is looking for editors that: -Can recognize relevant lacrosse plays on offense and defense in both boys and girls lacrosse -Can identify and keep track of a player or players throughout a game -Are able to screen record on their computer and have general knowledge of how to use Imovie -Are able to communicate through text/phone effectively -Can watch multiple lacrosse games in a day on same day/1 day notice
Highlight Video Editing Intern:
JM3 Sports is looking for editors that: -Have a computer that can screen record/download games -Have Imovie or another video editing software -Have general knowledge about Imovie or other video editing software -Can format title slides -Can identify which clips are better than others and organize them from best to worst -Can use freeze frames and arrows/circles to identify players -Can communicate effectively through email and text message