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!
PLL Championship Series
All I can say is wow! The PLL Championship Series been such an oasis in a desert of quarantine and cancellations. The quality of play has improved with each game along with the team play! The Redwoods defense vs Whipsnakes once they settled down was almost as incredible to watch as the Chaos Box-On-The-Field offense once they benched Fields and started sharing the ball.
I'm fired up to see a Chaos win tomorrow! Head Coach Andy Towers and I were teammates in college and has been a great friend for over 30 years. I have learned a lot of lacrosse from AT and I'm not surprised he has his team peaking at the right time. Andy is as competitive as anyone you'll ever know, but has thee gift of making people feel good, want to be around him, and he can do this while sticking to his principles.
but I'll be sad when it's over! Maybe the PLL can have a December Championship Series? Please?!
The Nardella Factor
I think these teams match up pretty evenly everywhere except at the Face-Off X. Nardella has been dominant and while Thomas Kelly has improved in the playoffs, it's hard to imagine he will be able to go 50%, but I think the Chaos would only need TK to go 40%. Losing the face off battle can be overcome, but if Nardella goes 80% it will become a real problem.
The two attack units are interestingly similar. Which one do you like? Both units have power dodgers with NLL experience. Both units have an off ball finisher extraordinaire! Zed's the leading goal scorer in the tourney, but it's impossible to pick him over Dickson, Byrne is a freak athlete with wizard like skills, but it would be impossible to pick him over Rambo, and Carlson has been super productive but Miles Thompson is one of the best righty box finishers in recent memory!
The Chaos run two distinct lines of midfielders: an NLL lacrosse line of Dhane Smith 2015 NLL MVP, Austin Staats 2018 NLL ROY and Kevin Buchanan 10 yeaer NLL vet where the team literally plays box on the field with their 3 NLL Attackmen. The Chaos also run an American midfield unit of 2019 First Team All-PLL Jake Froccaro, Eric Scott, and speedster, Sergio Salcido which is a more traditional speed dodge/two handed unit. The fact that the Chaos can give two totally different looks is an advantage.
The Whips's midfield is incredible. First of all Brad Smith, a 2nd year pro out of Duke has become in my opinion one of the top midfielders in the league. He's 6'3'' and has a feel for dodging and probing that allows him to toy with defenses. He had five assists vs Redwoods, yet he's a threat to score five goals anytime out! Channenchuck impresses me more every time I watch him. He shoots the shit out of it. We know that! But he also is a great feeder and dodges with a great feel for holding slides and getting clean shots off. John Haus is simply one of the best two way midfielders in the game. His ability to shoot, dodge, feed, play with out the ball on cuts, picks and seals is world class and he can play defense and play on wings of face offs.
Tough to pick a unit, but I wold say the Chaos have more offensive depth with two distinct lines of mddies.
Blaze vs Bernlohr
Blaze worked with me and my JM3 Athletes during quarantine and I got to know him as a person, so I'm definitely biased! Blaze is a great guy and man, what a championship series he's having! He's making insane saves look routine. Bernlohr is right there. Another lefty, he's made the amazing look routine as well, but I'm going with an edge to Chaos and Blaze!
It would be hard not to pick the Whipsnakes as the top defense with a line up Matthew Dunn, who could win the PLL Defenseman of the YeAR in the PLL, Bryce Young and Tim Mueller but the Chaos defense has been excellent. Although Jarod Newman is the reigning Defenseman of the Year, I think Jack Rowlett has established himself as not only the best cover defender on the Chaos, but maybe the best in the game! Towers added Canadian National Team and NLL veterans in Dan Coates and Jason Noble and this team plays great team defense with serious toughness.
LSM's and Shorties
Michael Ehrhardt is a game changing LSM for the Whipsnakes, who can bomb 2-pointers, play lockdown 1v1 defense, and play great team defense! Flanked by Comizio and Warner, this group is tough to run by and plays very physically. On the other side, the combination of Troy Reh, Matt Rees, Tyson Bell, Glacini and Patrick Resch are a formidable group that can defend and score.
Prediction: Chaos 13 Whipsnakes 12
Austin Staats Foot Stomp / Multi-Hitch goal
Ok, this might be one of the all time sickest goals I've ever seen! I talk about Multi-Hitching all the time with my JM3 Athletes and this is the ultimate example! While Multiple Hitching is not actually a difficult skill to execute, it takes a high level of poise and patience to pull it off. Also, notice the way Staats does a Foot Stomp move to put his man on the ground and get this whole sequence started.
Why is is that box lacrosse players Multi Hitch all the time and field players don't? I think it's because box players are using hitches to set up screen shots whereas field players are using a hitch to shoot on the run.
Ament Skip Passes
Watching Grant Ament feed is a thing of beauty! His deception and different swing angles make his passes hard for the defense to read and knock down or pick off. He uses many different techniques. Watch the video below and you will interesting examples of deceptive feeding!
Have you ever thought about the fact that deceptive shooting uses the same principles as deceptive feeding? Swing angles, where your looking, body posture and hips open/closed are keys to shooting and feeding! If you think about the way you swing sidearm to pull it nearside against a goalie, that is an exact way to pull it past the stick of an off ball defender.
Schreiber On The Run Hitch
I'm seeing this move used more often than ever and with phenomenal results! I first notice Jeff Teat, Connor Fields and Ryder Garnsey hitching on the run when they came topside on their man. The Underhand Fake caused their defender to make one last ditch effort with an over the head check, a slap or a reach while keeping their stick protected. This move can be done in many ways, but essentially, once the dodger has topside position on his defender he can begin faking!
In the case with Schreiber in the video below, because he had a lot of separation on his man, he didn't need to be as underhand. Watch how the defender stops running just after his last reach. This technique is incredibly effective and should be added to your repertoire! The Underhand hitch and the Hard Pump are in the JM3 Top 10 Skills my athletes need to know!
Austin Staats Underhand Hitch and Sick Curve Ball
Every time I watch Austin Staats play, I am mesmerized. I just wish we got to see more of him! I so wish we could have seen him play in college. Watch the clip below and see an other example of the power of the underhand hitch! In this case the defender bit hard and swung for the trail check as Staats ran in faking until he finally threw a beautiful Curveball past Ghittleman. Watch Ghits's move to the nearside as the inside out swing angle of a Curveball worked like a charm!
By the way, did you ever notice how Staats regularly fakes out the camera man?!
Pannell's Fake Questionmark
This move was a beauty! Everyone knows Rob Pannell loves his Questionmark Move. Here, RP3n uses the subtlest of step outs and a quick fake punch out with two hands to entice his defender into opening the gate to the topside. It should be noted that this move would probably work better for Rob on this side of the field than the other because the defender does know Rob wants his right!
Eric Scott's Subtle Re-Dodge
This move is very similar to the RP3 Fake Questionmark in terms of the footwork executed. Watch the way Scott uses a subtle step out re-dodge to throw his man off.
Curtis Dickson's Feel Good Move
The first time I saw this move I was watching film of my '04 Jeff Biggs In the fall of 2003, from our scrimmage at Yale. This was a time when I was in a serious experimentation mode with hitches and hesitations. "Biggsy", a captain for us that year, caught a ball up top, hitched and face dodged, and just when it looked like he was going to roll right back to his right hand, he hitched again, and left his man in the dust. My assistant at the time was Mike Law who was Denver's first All-American. Mike literally hitched his way right on to the US National Team in '02 and then hitched his way to being named First Team All-Pro with the MLL Denver Outlaws, and to the NLL All-Star Game! Mike named this move of a face dodge / fake rollback the "Feel Good Move" because it just feels so good!
Rowlett's Reverse V Hold
Jack Rowlett has developed into one of the finest defender's in the wolrd in my opinion. He plays with great toughness, quickness and a feel for how to take away the strength of a dodger. One technique he uses very well is the Reverse V Hold. A technique coined by Harvard Head Coach Gerry Byrne. This technique is common among short sticks and is a little more difficult for poles to execute, but it can stop a dodger who's going left on right in his tracks! The key in this clip is he was able to use the Reverse V Hold to stop the topside move but still be able to react to the under move. Pretty awesome!
Playing Defense Right on Left
I common technique taught to defenders in right on left or left on right situations is a Slap Lift. I used to think this technique was a good idea, but the more I watch, the less I think it's a good idea! Slaps in general give up a window of opportunity for dodgers to make a move, feed or shoot. The lift is a good idea, but when it's done aggressively, the lift tends to miss which opens up even more of a window than the slap alone. Watch the defenders below over doing Slap lifts and getting themselves in trouble.
As Harvard Head Coach Gerry Byrne Tweeted the other day, "The Lead wrap (slap) is patent zero for a lot of goals given up."
Best Way To Develop Your Non Dominant Hand
How do most people work on their non dominant hand? By hammering out weak hand reps on the the wall or bounce back, shooting on the run, and generally just handling the ball with their weak hand. Makes perfect sense as the say, practice makes perfect! Or Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!
Although I think repping out weak hand wall ball isn't bad for you, I don't think it will make you better at playing the game of lacrosse. During quarantine we played a lot of Munro family lacrosse and this became one of out best games for pure fun, but is also maybe the best way to really develop your weak hand.
Anyone can play catch with a wall and execute skills with no defenders or no goalie. Since a 2v1 is one of the most fun parts of the game and FUN-damental parts of the game, what better way to learn your strong hand or weak hand than to play wing 2x. The ability to pass around a defender's stick, to fully draw and dump, to catch and finish coming to the middle is the essence of offense and if a player can do this with their weak hand, they're a pretty good player.
The rules are we start 8-10 yards wide on the wing and the defender starts even with the attackers. On the "Go" of the ball carrier, they all run to the middle and the defender tries to disrupt while the attackers try to score.
Watch the video of these girls experimenting with different passes and shots! It's awesome!
JM3 Athlete Program
In two weeks from today, I will be opening up a registration window for six boys and girls players to sign up for the JM3 Athlete Program. In this program I work with athletes and families and put them on a trajectory of development and exposure that they would otherwise never know. I have created a new model of player development that is so effective and such a breath of fresh air you may not believe it!
This program is not cheap, but it has been wildly effective at helping players and families achieve their goals and follow their dreams.
If you want to learn more, please take the time to read A Lacrosse Life an in depth bio, which explains how my philosophies have evolved through my experiences as a coach at all levels, an entrepreneur, and a dad of three lax players, two girls and a boy.
If you're interested, email me at [email protected] I will be happy to provide references of current and former clients.
Here's a video of the content I use for my JM3 Athletes
Girls Lacrosse Player Development
I am a proud girl dad and because of that I've put a ton of time into understanding women's lacrosse and trying to find the best ways to help girls develop into high level players! I coach girls HS lacrosse and I have worked with a ton of girls in my JM3 Athlete Program with exceptional success on the field, in recruiting, and in a love of the game!
Check out this testimonial from the dad of one of my players. If you think this would be the kind of program you would like for your daughter, feel free to email me at [email protected] . The JM3 Athlete Program is not for everyone and it is not cheap, but the results have been incredible!
Another element of the JM3 Athlete Program for girls that is incredibly exciting is the girls truly learn the game at a new level. A club coach was telling me yesterday that he over heard one of my JM3 Athletes explaining to teammates at a club practice off ball motions that involved her sealing her own man for her teammate to Curl over the top. This type of knowledge and understanding is rare in men's and women's lacrosse! This is the type of IQ that provides a huge advantage both on the field and in a coaches office during an interview!
JM3 Girls Lacrosse Academy
In the video testimonial above, this dad references the online content in the JM3 program. This is the most comprehensive development model you will find anywhere! Check out this video walk through.
The Gait Stick
Make no mistake, the Flex Mesh pocket will change the game of women's lacrosse. The pocket expands with centrifugal force aka cradling and has created the best hold of any women's stick that still throws great!
My daughters play with these sticks and call them, "The best stick they have ever had!" Check out the descriptions below:
If you want to get the JM3 Discount or see more, go to https://laxpocket.com/ and use the coupon code JM3 to get 10% off these incredible sticks!
Have a great weekend!