A Lacrosse Weekend 9.12.20

Uncategorized Sep 12, 2020

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! 

Mike Boyle and The Secret of Speed Training

Can we all agree that speed is critical!  That you can't be too fast!  It's like being too good looking or too rich.  All over the lacrosse world people are spending time and money on strength and conditioning programs as well as speed training because they know how important it is.

The sad thing is a huge percentage of folks are spinning their wheels and or risking injury with sub par programs and coaching. 

Watch this webinar I did with Mike Boyle the other night for my JM3 Athletes and families and you will have the education you need to make great choices for your players on strength and conditioning.

  • How to choose a S&C program
  • No Crossfit!
  • If you want to Stink this winter, run cross country this fall
  • Timed 10 Yards Sprints are a Speed Development Game Changer
  • Why Trap Bar is preferable to Back Squats
  • Why Hang Cleans over Power Cleans
  • When is the right time to start your kid in the weight room
  • Why Mike doesn't believe in working on agility or conditioning

 For more information on Mike Boyle's Remote Coaching programs and where you can get the Brower Timers for timing your 10's, go to LacrosseAthlete.com



Phi-Lacrosse-ophy Podcasts

Damon Wilson, AKA Lacrosse Goalie Rat, is a self-made goalie expert.  Damon started playing lacrosse in college and fell in love with thee goalie position.  Damon has his own podcast dedicated to the goalie position in lacrosse and he shared what he learned from interviewing them!  Here are the "7 things he learned from interviewing every PLL goalie".
1. The "Give me the Ball" mindset shift
2. One possession at a time
3. Physical hacks to reset at halftime
4. Practice mindset vs Game mindset
5. The weight room matters
6. Everyone is going to have a slump-how to get out of a slump
7. Everyone is eager to help

Solo Podcast, titled, "Off Ball 2man" 

This podcast was a long time in the making.  Ever since I produced the "Hang up 2man, A New Paradigm" webinar back in early March , I had been planning on studying and reporting on off ball 2man game.   Go to 2manGame.com if you want to see this webinar!

This past June I spent the month in Narragansett, RI with my family, friends and JM3 Athletes playing pick up games every day!  These games, which double as my "Lab", are truly a non-contact version of box lacrosse.  For 30 days I played, experimented and studied on ball and off ball 2man game.  With around 60 hours of film to review, I spent July going breaking it down, editing, and preparing instructional content. 

2man Off Ball Analytics

We know from PLL Stats Analysts and Writer, Joe Keegan, that on ball 2man game has higher efficiencies than 1v1 dodges in large part to these three factors:

  • Higher % of shots with sticks to the middle
  • Higher % of assisted shots
  • Addition by subtraction: when the defense has to send a third player to the 2man situation, leaving three to guard four, as opposed to four to guard five when a defense sends a slide to isolation, which opens up the assisted shots.

How do these stats relate to efficiencies in off ball 2man game?  We will have to get @JoeKeegs to weigh in on this, but I'm going to take a crack at it.

Off Ball 2man will have a similar sticks to the middle shooting percentage to on ball 2man because in "Pairs" type offenses there is already an emphasis getting players to their Natural Sides.  See the example below from the PLL Chaos of awesome example of these efficiencies!


Higher Assisted Shot % obviously fit right into this model, since we are talking about off ball action that will lend itself to assisted shots.

Finally, how does Addition By Subtraction fit with off ball 2man?  Well, this is where off ball 2man has it's biggest advantage!  The defense can't regularly send a 3rd player to off ball 2man games, yet the concept of getting two on one and zero on the other are exactly the same!  

The big picture advantage of off ball actions of all kinds is the defense isn't 100% focused on you when you're off ball!  The defense is focused on stopping the ball!  Combine this concept with surgical precision of 2man game actions and reads, and ball movement and you have an incredibly difficult offense to stop.

This is box lacrosse offense and I believe this is the future of field lacrosse offense in men's and women's lacrosse.

Basics of Off Ball 2man

Simply put, players working together to get open, occupying defenders, trying not to cut into the ball side action, balance the floor, and to facilitate ball swings. Here are the basic actions:
  • Down picks
  • up picks
  • Re-picks
  • Seals / slips
  • Back door cuts, topside cuts and pop outs and step backs
  • Cut the middles and cycles

Engaging Two Players

This is how my Hang up 2man philosophy was conceived: the goal is not to explode off the pick and get to the middle as much is is about trying to get two players on you.  We talk about the hands free advantages of feeding from the "Pocket" when defenders are playing sides in their pre switch, "Bookend" defensive position.  This situation also creates confusion on the part of the defenders when the picker rolls to the net.   We engage defenders with our Double Threat posture or Dodging Threat posture.  We can also use pass fakes to engage and control the defenders bookending the pick.

Pocket passing is a huge part of the off ball 2man game because it allows feeders to have hands free to feed cutters or swing the ball, which generates new off ball opportunities.

Remarkably, Off ball is exactly the same as on ball!  We want to engage two players, we do it with the same Double Threat posture, there is an off ball pocket that forms and it sets up the same type of confusion for the defense of not knowing who will pick up the cutter and who will pick up the picker.

In off ball situations the defense will be more likely to switch than in on ball Big-Little situations, so mastering the ability to Engage two defenders becomes almost unstoppable for the defenders!  

Remember, the cutter needs to engage the switch and maintain engagement of his own defender.  Watch closely how that happens!

Invite Them Over

When a defense doesn't want to switch picks or wants to retain a match up, just like in on ball situations, they may fight over a pick.  In exactly the same way as our on the ball teachings, the cutter can then invite the defender over the pick, baiting them into thinking they can cleanly push through the pick, only to leave them in a permanently trailing position.  When this happens either the cutter will be open to the net or there will be an off ball double team because once the defender commits to fighting over a pick, they cannot switch.  Off ball double teams are sub optimal for defenses!


Seal Picks

In on ball situations and off ball situations, the seal pick is incredibly effective and important because the defense often times wants to switch picks and pack it in, jamming up space. A Seal is simply a pick of your own man, creating space for a cutter (or dodger) to use.  Watch this on ball Spin Seal from Randy Staats as Lyle Thompson deftly invites his defender to play him.

In off ball situations, the read is the same.  When the defense is sagging way in, clogging up 2man off ball picking situations, or if they want to switch, we can seal the switch and open up space, for a pocket of space.  If the defender fights through the seal, slip to the net!  Easy reads!

This is both advanced (it's not taught or done very often in field) and incredibly intuitive and simple.  It's easy for even a young player to understand that sealing their own man will open up space.  It's kind of like Man-Ball on ground balls. Watch these girls using pairs offense concepts in a 4v4 keep away game where off ball seals are being employed.

Ball Movement

The most profound thing I learned this summer was how to combine on ball and off ball 2man game through ball movement and Swing Passes.  Swings are wing to wing passes that are deadly for the defense.  Swinging the ball enables the offense to instantaneously go from on ball 2man game to off ball 2man game (and vice versa) which catches the defense with difficult approaches and makes their focus shift.


Just like when you dodge and you should look through your defender to see the sliders,  2nd sliders, cutters and outlets, we must do the same in 2man game.  Seeing the other side allows the ball carrier not only to feed cutters, but to Feed Feeders and turn an on ball 2man game immediately into an off ball 2man game.   Feeding feeders!  What a concept! Watch in the videos below of nations looks and give and goes to see examples of this!

A very important skill I practiced while playing pick up this summer was focusing my attention on the off ball side while operating in on ball 2man games.   I learned that it's nearly impossible to focus on your attention on own on ball 2man man game and simultaneously see the other side, but it is possible to focus your attention on the off ball side while  operating in on ball 2man, feeling the defense like a QB in the pocket with his eyes down field.  If the Defense switches it's actually quite easy.  If the defense pressures, you will likely have to turn your attention to inviting them over the pick or refusing the pick for a moment, but you will have at least taken a snap shot of the other side of the field.  This is an important habit!

"Don't play out your 2man game until the bitter end" is another interesting concept that I learned this summer.  The offense is so much more fun to run when the ball swings and is so stagnant when the ball sits on one side for too long.  This notion also fits right in with another concept I've heard over the years from various NLL coaches: "the best 2man games occur when the ball is in the air as a pick is being set."  I always wondered how this worked, until I started swinging the ball in the middle of a 2man game.  All of a sudden, the defense is playing off ball 2man and dealing with Re-picks when the ball is on their side and are not prepared to play on ball 2man.  

Nations Looks

Everyone loves Nations looks!  They are a two pass pick and roll that occur when a dodger engages two defenders and feeds a feeder in the middle of engaging two defenders.  These looks happen naturally in our pick up games!

Rattler Looks

Give and go looks off 2man are SO THERE!  Again, if you give the ball up in the middle of a 2man game you will have all kinds of give and go opportunities because the defense will often times relax when you throw it.  The other scenario that results in automatic give and goes is when you invite and aggressive defender over the pick and then give it up.  The defense is in a permanently trailing position leaving the cut wide open.  It's a lot easier to score when you give it up and get it back than it is to dodge it all the way in because it's hard to slide to an off ball player!



If you want your kids to learn to play like these JM3 Athletes, with all of the skill and IQ of on ball and off ball 2man game, check out the Backyard Curriculum!  It will be the best $19 you ever spent!


The Backyard Curriculum [LEARN MORE]


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.

  • "Feel" for dodging: getting a step, cutting your defender off, hesitations, re-dodges, post ups, 
  • "Feel" for finishing: freezing a goalie, reaching far, twister near, a myriad of fakes
  • "Feel" for faking: Multiple hitches, drags and pumps, backhand and BTB fakes
  • "Feel" for 2man game: Hang up 2man, inviting your defender over, cat & mouse if they go under
  • "Feel" for manipulating your man: backing defender off, inviting pressure, baiting, getting D's stick up in the air
  • "Feel" for looking a pass off while receiving it when you're seemingly covered or recognizing the D isn't looking at the ball and feeding the seemingly covered player
  • "Feel" for Multiple Hitches and setting up approaching defenders 

All the best players became the best players in the backyard! Get started today!



Have a great Weekend!


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