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.
Lake Placid Lacrosse
Sorry for not publishing "A Lacrosse Weekend" over the past few weeks, but it's so tough to do when I'm traveling in the summer. On Saturday two weeks ago, we drove up to Lake Placid where I had the opportunity to coach my daughter and the Northwestern '22 and '23 commits! What a privilege to get to know future Cats and coach with current players Carleigh Mahoney and Sam Smith who's sisters played on the team! We ran the Northwestern Wildcat Offense of pick actions occurring on and off ball simultaneously combined with great ball movement. I had coached this group at NU camp a few weeks ago in July and this was our opportunity to take the concepts to real games in an iconic lax event. My goal was to make it fun and to prepare the girls for fall ball. It was a great week!
PS there are som ballers you'll be hearing about soon!
We also brought a HHH National team of '26's and 27's to the youth event coached by Mike O'Neil and my daughter Lucy. Check out this video of the coaches talking to the girls after game one. I think you will find the tenor and content of the post game speech impressive.
Tufts Head Coach Casey D'Annolfo on Recruiting
The Phi-Lacrosse-ophy Podcast is back! Yesterday I did my first podcast with a college lacrosse coach since before the start of the '22 season and I intend to get podcasts cranked up between now and February! I had a great lacrosse conversation with Tufts Head Coach, Casey D'Annolfo, on his lacrosse journey, building culture at Tufts, playing fast, pressure defense and 2man game. I will drip this podcast early next week, but check out this excerpt from Casey as he talks about recruiting!
JM3 Athlete Highlight Video
For those of you that read my blog, you know I am always talking about the Constraints Lead Approach, the power of Free Play, and repetition without repetition. Today I'm highlighting a JM3 Athletes who embodies the kind of player this model can produce. 3d New England 2024 attackman Pete Buonanno from Moses Brown School has been doing this stuff in our Narragansett pick up games for years, but now his play is on center stage. Pete's dad and I played high school and college lacrosse together at Moses Brown and Brown, respectively, and I started working with Pete in June of 2020. Pete is a three sport athlete (soccer, basketball, and lacrosse), hasn't had time for for private lessons, endless reps on a wall or shooting an hour a day, and grew up playing a lot of 3x and continues to play a lot of pick up lacrosse with small nets and tennis balls.
Below is a video from earlier this summer. Pete's the lefty with the red hat on backwards and if you watch this video you will see him joyfully playing the game in different environments, reading and influencing the play and getting decision making reps just about every key situation of the game: dodges, shots, feeds, on and off ball 2man games, defense, communication and loose balls. One trait Pete has due to his ability to read plays and recognize the affordances offered to him by his opponent is leverage the power of deception.
Deception, Deception, Deception!
Deception in every situation is a key topic of conversation on Zoom calls with my JM3 Athletes. Deception creates and / or amplifies advantages. Ponder this: your man, as well as all the off ball defenders, (and even the goalie) are literally watching and listening to everything you do while trying to stop your team from scoring. Therefore, concealing, misleading, or distracting your opponent from your intentions is critical. Would you rather have the defense challenge your dodge / shot / feed or challenge your fake dodge / shot / feed? Incredibly, the defense will (eventually) bite on your deception because they have to defender what they think you're doing. And when they bite with a check, a show, a recovery, or a reach, etc, it creates a window of opportunity for you to make a play. Thus, you have the power to influence the defense into being early and or late, but not on time!
Yet so many athletes have become institutionalized in the structure they've trained in; Repping skills on air, dodging cones, ripping shots on empty nets, and practicing in environments devoid of context. The result of this type of training is most players do not leverage the power of deception and literally stare down almost everything they do.
The power of deception goes far beyond sports! Deception such as camouflage is literally a matter of life and death for both predator and prey in the natural world. Deception has overtaken society and threatens democracy with fake news and conspiracy theories, and of course as the ancient Chinese General, Sun Tzu says, "All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near."
If you want to see deceptive and comedic brilliance look no further than Monty Python's Trojan Rabbit in their quest for the Holy Grail.
Watch the the highlight video below and look closely at the nuances of vision, reading the defense, deception, 2man on ball and off ball and manipulation of opponents. Pete uses look offs, hesitations, hitches, pumps, passing angles and more all in the context of reading the defense. You know deception is at work when an athlete makes it look easy or is getting all the way to the net!
I've watched this video at least 20 times, looking for all the details of the plays!
The Advantage of A Cutting Edge Club Program
I give 3d New England a ton of credit for providing an outlet where a player like this can shine. 3d NE runs offenses where there is an emphasis on team play, passing, picking, and where creativity is encouraged. If Pete were in a club program that was reductionist in their view of skills like "One move and go" "Do it like this, not like that", or in a program that doesn't believe in on ball and off ball 2man game, his development would be stunted and coaches would not be able to see the unbelievable upside in his skill and IQ.
Path of Least Resistance Animals
By Mikey Thompson, Head Coach Christopher Newport University