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!
Pete Milliman, Head Coach Johns Hopkins
In the first podcast of season 4, I talk to Johns Hopkins Head Coach Pete Milliman about his lacrosse journey from growing up in Rochester, NY to becoming the head coach at Johns Hopkins last year. Milliman also discusses his offensive philosophies, what Hopkins likes to do on the defensive side of the ball, as well as what he looks for in recruits!
One of the most interesting parts of the conversation was before the podcast officially started when we were talking about Jeff Teat. Coach Milliman described him as like a "Bounce back" that made the offense go by simply moving the ball to someone else as much or more than trying to make a play! Every offense needs a bounce back type player to create tempo and get people open through ball movement and off ball movement! Albeit, not every bounce back type player can shoot, feed and dodge like Jeff Teat!
Click here to listen to the Pete Milliman Podcast. I hope you enjoy it!
James Purpura, Head Coach VMI
In this podcast, I talk to 2nd year VMI Head Coach James Purpura about his lacrosse journey, from growing up in Rochester to playing collegiately at Mt St Mary's and SUNY Geneseo, his assistant coaching jobs, becoming a head coach at Arcadia, playing for Coach Whipple & what he learned from him, playing against Blaze Riorden in high school, the culture he is trying to build at VMI, what makes VMI special, his philosophy on player development, how he develops IQ, how he and his staff continue to educate themselves, the importance of watching film, what VMI does offensively, defensively, and what he & his staff are looking for in recruits. Click here to listen to James Purpura's pod! I hope you enjoy!
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Forcing Your Opponent into the Dominos Defense
Have you ever noticed in box lacrosse that during an offensive set you will see spacing where the offense has the defense set up like dominos across the floor? Box offenses start with nobody in the middle and a 2 man side and a 3 man side, but as soon as picks are being set on both sides simultaneously, the offense morphs into the Dominos Defense, illustrated in the picture below.
I had always noticed this Dominos Defense phenomenon while watching Mammoth games or Adanac games over the years, and while I understood how it happens: both sides of the floor are picking and sealing for each other, a circle formation turns into a straight line, it wasn't until recently that I really started thinking about how this could be an advantage for the offense.
The same Domino's Defense occurred this past spring where I ran a box style offense with my HS girls team with two 3man sides picking simultaneously. Check out the picture below!
Last spring break I had the opportunity to install a box style offense with the Deerfield Academy boys lacrosse team and as you can see from the picture below, the defense was getting lined up with the natural movements of the offense.
Check out the video below and you can see how the offense begins to morph from a circle formation into a straight line or Dominos formation with one man at X as the pick action flattens the defense.
When I got back from Spring Break with Deerfield I was thinking about this topic a lot so I texted a few box lacrosse experts like my good friend Bob Hamley, GM of the new NLL Panther City Lacrosse Club and asked him if he had noticed this phenomenon:
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.
Why is the Dominos Formation Bad For the Defense?
Defenses are used to sloughing to the middle and sliding to in two main ways: either from the crease with an ability to surround the "Paint" with have community 2nd slide help or they are used to sliding adjacent where they rotate around the outside with backside helping in. In both cases there is a distinct perimeter and an effort to protect the middle through collapsing.
When an offense gets the defense lined up like this it strings them out in such a way that they can no longer surround the middle, there is no perimeter and the slides all become linear like dominos while the offense can pop up or dive down off the line to get open for a swing pass or a shot.
I will undoubtedly be thinking a lot more about the benefits of stringing a defense out like this and making them play Domino Defense and I'd love to get your feedback on the topic!
If you want to learn more about concepts like these, subscribe to the JM3 Coaches Training Program. There is incredible content for men's and women's coaches and some of the best content we've ever created is coming this fall and it's all about Principles Based Offense.
I often hear coaches talk about how their players have bad habits. How they have to un-teach them in order to make their game fundamental.
What is a bad habit anyway? below is a list of what most coaches would say the following are bad habits:
Check out this Joel White PLL Highlight Video from 2019. It's full of bad habits like one handed ground balls! Watch the first clips and you'll see the only way he was going to be able to get the ball without being checked was to use one hand and reach for it before his opponent could get to him or the ball. You will also see Joel choke all the way up on his stick to scoop ground balls that are at his feet. Which one of these habits was a bad habit? I'd say getting checked when you pick of a ground ball would be a bad habit!
How about this clip of Jeff Teat, it's full of so called bad habits. He didn't get the shot off quickly and he shot sidearm. It's funny how coaches always focus on catching and releasing shots as quickly as possible yet the best players in the world tend to hitch the lights out when they have time. It influences both the approaching defender to get in or out of the way, allowing the shooter to find a screen or go to the net while also causing the goalie to react and have to reset. Coaches want overhand shots as much as possible, and I get why, but sometimes your over hand shot (or pass) will hit your opponent's stick or body and you must throw the ball around them.
How is Lyle Thompson going to throw this pass to Shayne Jackson for an assist if he throws over hand? The defender's stick will always try to check your pass! You must throw a pass around your man and his stick! Getting passes checked or blocked is a bad habit!
Have you ever heard a coach say don't throw underhand or sidearm passes because they are hard to catch? Well, when you watch Grant Ament throwing skip passes, the reason he's throwing them underhand is they're hard for the defense to catch! The receiver has no problem handing the pass, the key is can you skip it past the defender. Just like shooting deceptively on a goalie, a feeder must use deception of swing angle, eyes, posture to fool the defender.
In my opinion, bad habits have mostly to do with Reading and Influencing a play as opposed to any specific technique. The reason why overhand passing and shooting technique is a commonly taught technique is it is quite accurate. However, if a player consistently throws passes into defender's sticks or hits defenders with overhand shots, I would call that a bad habit. The player must read where the passing or shooting angle is and influence the defender with deception in order to complete the pass or the shot and usually it will have to be a technique other than overhand such as sidearm, underhand, a twister, backhand BTB etc.
The bad habit then is trying to use a "Fundamental Technique" at the wrong time.
Trying to pick up a one hand ground ball in pack would not be very effective and would therefore be a bad habit just as trying to pick up a two hand ground ball allowing yourself to be checked rather than reaching for the ball with one hand before your opponent could check you would be a bad habit.
Bad habits then are bad decisions on the use of skills in a particular situation and frankly, most of these bad decisions occur when players try to use the techniques that have been beaten into them by their coaches at the wrong time.
Deception is a good habit! Ability to possess the ball under pressure is a good habit. Shooting with good angle and distance is a good habit. Gaining angle to finish by coming in front of the net is a good habit. What technique you use is dictated by the play itself.
September 1 is Almost Here!
Check out the email below from Billy McKinney, founder of Big 4 HHH Lacrosse to his class of 2023 families about college lacrosse recruiting! HHH is a founding member of the National Lacrosse Federation and has one of the best club programs in the nation year in and year out. Billy also played for me at Denver and was captain of the 2006 team that was our first NCAA Tourney team. The note Billy sent to his families is worth the read!
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!
Get ready for your upcoming season with the power of all the premium content brought to you by Jamie Munro and hours and hours of instruction from other top coaches and pros. Now is the time to get prepared for you greatest season yet. Check out all the great content in our store. www.jm3sports.com/store
- To your success,
Jamie and the JM3 Sports Team
Have a great weekend!