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A Lacrosse Weekend 8/3/19

 

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!

 Podcast with Colgate's Matt Karweck

Check out my latest Phi-Lacrosse-ophy podcast with Head Coach of Colgate Lacrosse, Matt Karweck.  The 2nd year head coach has an exciting and refreshing vision for the Red Raiders centered on the student athlete experience, helping his players and staff become "Their best selves" and  an up tempo / push transition style of play combined with pressure defense.  I would love to play for this guy!  Click here to enjoy the Matt Karweck Podcast.

Podcast with Arizona State University Head Coach, Tim McCormack

This podcast will drop next week!  Tim is a former 3 year starter for Greg Canella and the UMass Minutemen, who was ready to take the assistant men's position at Holy Cross when UMass legend Scott Hiller called to see if he would have interest in working at Northwestern with him and his wife Kelly Amonte-Hiller.  Simply one of the best guys you'll ever meet, Tim is also thoughtful, eternally curious, and a tireless worker.  This podcast will drop on Thursday!

Lake Placid

Next week I will be resurrecting my playing career in Lake Placid, joining the defending champions, Brown State.  The last time I played up there was nine years ago!  I'm so pumped to see guys like Tom Dwyer, Sam Jackson, Dave Kotowski, Gary Nelson, Chris Bayer, Lars Tiffany, JP Williamson and Dave Evans to name a few great dudes!  I spent pretty much six weeks of the summer playing pick up games with my girls so my skills will be in good shape.  Two years ago I traded my long distance running for interval sprint work outs, so I can run.  Here are my biggest concerns heading into the week: pulling a hammy on day 2 or 3 due to post game libations induced dehydration and going to the rack and having some goon knock me into tomorrow.  I'm 52 playing in the 45+.  I can tell you all that I am a much worse athlete at 52 than I was at 45.  Luckily, Dave Evans is on our team and he is probably the best player in the tourney.  

Fake Fundamentals

The list below is full of classic youth lacrosse coaching axioms which aren't necessarily all wrong, but are often times way over emphasized.  Tell me what you think of my list!

  • "Never Rake": how many youth coaches or leagues have a no raking policy?  Obviously, there are times to scoop through on a ground ball, but when your are in a scrum and you need to pull the ball towards you, raking is a critical skill.
  • "Change Planes when you shoot."  We hear announcers say "He changed planes" after a goal or "He didn't change planes" after a save as if changing planes is all you have to do.  The bottom line is the key is to shoot deceptively.  Whether he. knows it or not, the goalie is reading your body language and if you project where you are shooting, the goalie will often times catch it.   Watch this SICK high to high Leaner by Randy Staats!  Click here if you want to learn how to teach shooting!

  • "Bounce the ball!"  This is a trick to score goals in youth lacrosse where the nets are too big and the goalies are too small.  Bounce shots are great shots when executed with certain intent, but to have kids shoot at the earth doesn't teach them how to shoot.
  • "Everything should be in the box area."  There is definite value to your stick being by your ear, particularly when giving a target and catching, but there are other postures and positions that are equally important such as what I call "Double Threat," a dodging posture where your stick is low at your waist.  In fact, I believe this posture may in fact be the most impactful posture in the game.  Check out this video analysis I did two years ago on Austin Staats after the 2017 Minto Cup.  It was at this time I truly learned the value of the Double Threat Position.  Click here if your son or daughter need cutting edge coaching!

  • "Everything overhand."  Shooting and passing overhand is clearly an important skill and should be practiced.  However, it is equally important to be able to pass and shoot around sticks a people.  Played must be able to throw at all angles including behind the back and twisters.  Where side arm is never better than overhand would be shooting with your stick to the outside going down the alley, but this is pure angles, not technique.
  • "No one hand ground balls!"  Have you ever watched Trevor Baptiste or Greg Gurenlian pick up a two hand ground ball after a face-off win?  Almost never!  Two hand ground balls are no more fundamental and critical than 1 hand ground balls. There is a time and place and if you make the wrong decision on which technique to use you likely won't pick up the ground ball.
  • "Fake high, shoot low." This is the common teaching point on finishing and it can work, but I can tell you that this is the number one situation where goalies steal what should have been a goal in a 1v1 finishing opportunity.  Goalies will react to the first fake, but can recover to the shot. Watch these kids street finishing!  When they double fake they score!

  • "Defenders must Drop step"  For generations coaches have taught the "Drop step" on defense when actually the "Hip turn" is significantly faster and actually happens naturally.  Click here to read a study on hip turns vs drop steps.   Check out the two videos that were put together by Patrick McEwen AKA @LaxFilmRoom demonstrating examples of hip turns and drop steps.  Interesting stuff!

  • "Point your butt end towards your target, step with your opposite foot, and follow through."  These are the instructions that most folks would teach young players to make a pass.  Probably the worst advice to complete a pass in a game. The "D" will see it coming a mile away!   Below is an AWESOME video on passing and shooting!

  • "Step to the ball." The classic teaching point for goalies which just isn't the most important part of being a goalie!  Stance, position, and moving your hands are the priority.  Your feet will follow.
  • "Run through the catch, run through the pass."  or "Move to the ball" as if playing lacrosse is like line drills.  First, you must learn to move in all directions with forward, backpedal, shuffle to pass and receive and second you must be able to set your feet to pass and receive.  
  • "You must be equal left and right." Wrong!  Would being totally amphibious be ideal? of course, but to think this is a must or even something worth putting the time into is not smart.  Let's just say that a player should be able to make a pass on the run and shoot on the run from 7 yards / execute a quesitonmark move with their weak hand.  Watch the best players in the world.  They become more one handed the older and better they get.  You can only play on one side of the field at a time anyway, why not play on your natural side.  Further, I would rather have a player who is a master at getting his/her strong hand than a player that has an equal left and right.  The slickness and repertoire great players have with their strong hand simply can't be learned if you're trying to be 100% equal.  
  • "Never throw off your back foot." The ability to throw while "Dragging" or backpedaling is a fundamental skill.  No better place to learn it than in a pick up game!

  • "Always have your stick to the outside."  This might be the worst advice ever!  This is where the "equal left and right" concept is woven in to the detriment of players.  What should be said is, always try and have your stick to the middle of the field to increase angle.  Whether you are dodging, cutting, or involved in flip plays, I would defer first to strong hand and 2nd to getting my stick to the middle (get to your natural side)
  • "Force them down the alley." With hips turned.  This is a bad posture.  Honestly, you want your on ball defenders to be able to use "Hip Turns" and bump and run, being hard to beat.  If you want to "Shade" to one side or another to take away a part of the filed or the strong hand, this can be done, but getting sideways and turning your hips puts you in an impossible position.
  • "Put your stick away" "No checks" "All you need is your feet."  Of course your feet are critical to 1v1 defense with a long pole and ill advised checking can put you out of position, but your stick is vital for your cushion, your leverage, and your ability to administer ball pressure. Listen to the Gerry Byrne Podcast for more on this!

Video Assessments

People are finally beginning to understand the value of having your game broken down by an expert!  I know I was a little ahead of my time on this, but the volume of people wanting this done is picking up.  If you have a son or daughter who is serious about their game and your are investing in their pursuit of being the best they can be, you are crazy not to get someone to do this for you!  It doesn't have to be me, but if you're not doing this there is NO WAY YOUR KID WILL BE AS GOOD AS THEY WOULD OTHERWISE BE.  PERIOD!

Here is a testimonial from arguably the best high school coach in the nation, Bryan Kelly.  BK has won 3 consecutive MIAA Titles and was the #1 team in the nation.

I do video assessments for girls as well as boys.  Here is an example of a girl who is committed to playing in DI.

Have a great weekend!

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