A Lacrosse Weekend 9.4.21

Uncategorized Sep 04, 2021

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!

Podcast This Week

Mike Murphy, Head Coach UPenn

In this podcast, I talk to Coach Murphy about how excited he is for the return of Penn Lacrosse after not competing since early 2020.  They had one of the best teams in the nation and were coming off a heartbreaking 2019 quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Yale. Penn was a top 10 team in 2020 before the pandemic set in, and he's poised to get the Quakers back up to the top of the rankings in 2022.

Despite the fact Penn couldn't compete in 2021, Murph was excited that his team made huge improvements in many areas of team and individual skills AND had fun.   The Penn staff creating a highly competitive environment with which allowed for competition itself, winning or losing the rep,  to do the teaching rather than the coaches correcting mistakes in real time.,  We also discuss how film is a huge value add to this "Game like" practice setting.  Learn implicitly in realtime, find solutions in real time, and see what actually happened on film later.

One of my favorite parts of this conversation was about how Coach Murphy & his staff use principles they learned from the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" in their coaching.  This book has been a game changer for me and my JM3 Athletes.  Is there anything more important than your athletes playing "In the zone?"  It's impossible to be in the zone and to think at the same time.  Thinking of how a coach wants you to execute a certain skill or thinking about where to be on the field during a complex offense are examples of why Penn has simplified what they do, how they practices, and all of their schemes.  This conversation flowed right into a discussion about  the free play model, which is near and dear to my heart!  Murph's 12 year old son has a great Free Play crew at the end of a culdesac which sounds amazing!

We discuss what Penn Lacrosse will look like in 2022, his vision for the Quakers on offense and defense, sub games, how he's using the undulation model for practices to prevent burnout,

This podcast was recorded on the day before September 1st, so it was fitting that we would finish up with a great chat about recruiting, what Penn is looking for in a player as well as how so many prospects  need to do a better job prioritizing rest, recovery, and sleep. 


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The Hesitations of Stephen Rehfuss

One player I've been absolutely mesmerized by this summer is former Syracuse star and current PLL Cannons midfielder, Stephen Rehfuss.  He is the absolute model of how I teach dodging.  The way Rehfuss uses hesitations, pop outs,  changes of direction, combined with physicality makes him literally impossible to guard by a short stick and equally difficult to slide to!

When I do Zoom calls with my JM3 Athletes we talk about hesitation moves and their applications in depth.  Below is a list of some of the interesting applications we talk about and you will see them all in the video below! 

Initiate a dodge with a hesitation move:  most players do this when they split or wind up for a hitch and go.

Set up a change of direction with a hesitation: the concept here is instead of trying have your change of direction faster than your opponent's change of direction, use a hesitation move to make your man stop and then late on your go, and therefore make him over run you!  So many players rely on changes of direction without mixing in hesitations and it's very predictable.  

Using a hesitation move after you get a step: this is the most counter intuitive application of hesitation moves because once a player gets a step, they feel they have to sprint to the net and using a hesitation would allow the defender to catch up, but this is not the case.  When you put on the brakes, your defender will put on the brakes after you (they have to).  They will be stopping when you're going, allowing you to retain your step.  Second, when you put on the brakes and use a head and shoulder turn (Rocker) which is faking a roll back, your defender will put on the brakes more than you and you will not only retain your step, you will get a bigger step.  If you watch Rehfuss, he often gains more separation with his hesitations than with his initial moves! 

Use a Hesitation Move on your pop out: using bounces, pop outs, Z dodges are incredibly important they create new angles to attack, the retreating nature of the move forces defenders to come out and approach you if you're executing your pop out in a dangerous area.  And of course dodging approaches is easier than dodging a set defender.

Using a Hesitation Move in a Hostage Dribble: you'll notice in one clip Rehfuss gets a step on his man, cuts him off and slows down right in front of his man, creating major separation when he released.  This is typical skill used in basket ball that allows a player to buy time for decision making,.

Hesitating in a post up: you will see Rehfuss use Hesitation Moves to initiate contact with his defender which allows him to get in on his man deceptively.  You will also see Rehfuss use Hesitation Moves on the Island to get his hands free to shoot.

Multiple Hesitations: similar to the concept I talk about with my JM3 Athletes, of Multiple Hitches, Multiple Hesitation Moves is deadly effective.  Watch how Rehfuss keeps his man and the defense off balance by Bouncing and hesitating constantly!

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How To Get Open When You're Being Face Guarded

In men's and women's lacrosse, a common defensive tactic is to Face Guard or Shut off an opposing team's best player.  Often times this creates problems for the rhythm of an offense because the player being face guarded panics, works hard to get the ball but is seemingly never open, and then eventually pulls herself out to the side allowing her team to play 6v6.  Often times, if a player does finally get open, it is not within the flow of the offense, which creates a stagnant Iso. Certainly, when you are being face guarded setting picks is a good idea because in theory your man won't switch and you can get a teammate open, and that is perfect way to play within the flow of the offense, but the focus of this piece is how to get open when you are being face guarded within the flow of your offense.

I think you will find this incredibly simple!  First you must slow down!  Sprinting all over might get you open but you won't be open at the right time or distance for the feeder to get you the ball.  Next, get inside the 8 where you are a real threat to score on a cut to the net.  Defenders will naturally give up your pop out if you threaten a dangerous cut to the goal.  Post up your man off ball by turning your back to your defender and use Rocker Moves or Dead Shoulder type of Hesitations to threaten that cut to the net and get open at the right moment within the scope of your normal offense.  The first three clips of the video below illustrate this easy technique!

You'll notice on a couple clips the face guarded girl using a slightly different technique.to get open but with similar concepts:   She's on the move and not posted up, but  what is similar is she's right on the elbow of the 8, she's hip to hip with her defender cutting her off slightly to the middle and initiates a little contact, and times her pop out perfectly making it impossible for the defender to deny her the ball.  to continue to run an offense and be. 


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!



September 1st Preparation: A Letter From Colleen Magarity

Colleen is the Head Coach at Penn Charter School and founded and runs HHH Girls lacrosse.  She works with me and JM3 Sports and provides incredible insights to our JM3 Athletes in coaching and recruiting as well as amazing content for this blog!
You must understand that 9/1 is the START of the recruiting process, not the culmination. If you do not hear from a school on the 1st, it does not mean that the door is closed at that program. We have had multiple players commit to amazing schools like Stanford, Bucknell, and Colorado and they did not speak to them until the Spring after her junior year. 
There will be a lot of  players on our roster that will not receive a phone call this week, and there will be a handful that do get a call. If you do not receive a call it does not mean that you are not a talented player and you will not have the opportunity to play college lacrosse. It simply means that you are not currently on the top of the list for a school right now. You will have plenty of opportunities to get to the top of a program’s list in front of you. If you do receive a call, be polite and willing to contribute to the conversation. College coaches are professionals on the phone and will lead the conversation. They are also understanding that you are kids so do not freak out and get nervous- just be yourself. Make sure the coach you are speaking to understands that you are willing to work your tail off in college- REFRAIN from asking where you will fit in and how many players you will have to compete against for playing time. Do not tell a program that you are not interested (unless it is a military academy and you have no interest in serving the country). My advice is to not tell any program “no” until you are going to tell a program “yes”. I can walk you through how to stay engaged with a program that you are not very interested in without blowing them off. 
Lastly- the seemingly complex question “what do I need to do to get recruited?” has a simple answer- work on your fitness and skill. Signing up to as many prospects days and showcases is not the answer. Playing well in front of coaches is far more significant that playing often in front of college coaches. Working hard to get better is imperative and it includes building strength, building skill, and building endurance (working hard in the classroom goes without saying). Strength/muscle mass, skill level, and endurance are all major factors of this process. Do not neglect any of these factors. I will be frank and let you know what you need to focus more on while we are working together at practice, whether it be fitness or just simply wanting to get better through hard work and a desire to be the best.
Coaches love to watch the 2nd half of our 3rd game during recruiting events or at the end of a long play and if you are on the sideline gasping for air while others are on the field playing at a high level at that moment, that doesn’t help your spot on a list. Any player that has aspirations to play in college should be able to run a mile in under 7:00 and middies under 6:30 mins. Make these goals, and if you don’t get that phone call you want on Sunday don’t get upset.  Focus on what you can control and work hard to make them notice you the next time you are on the field in November whether it’s via film or in person. 👊 
List of questions to Ask:
1. What is your coaching philosophy?
2. What is a common major on the team?
3. Do you have an academic advisor for your team?
4. What is a typical day like in the fall and spring?
5. What kind of offense and defense do you like to play?
1. Will I get playing time? 
2. What do I do to get playing time?
3. Any questions that make you seem self focused and you don’t put the team first.
-If they ask you your X factor have an answer - What separates you from the rest of the recruits? What makes you better than another person? Work ethic? Coach-ability? Passion ? Drive? Ability to score or finish? Feeding? Draws??
-What do you want in a program?? Good answer: A program that challenges me to be the best I can be, supports one another, and academically is challenging as well. You will do whatever it takes to help the team be successful. Something along those lines.
Know about your top schools you are interested in:
-How did they do last year?
-Top players on their team
-Biggest rival in the conference 
-Big wins from last season 
-A little bit about the coach
Answer to a program you like but are not that interested in:
Thank you so much at this moment I am exploring all of my opportunities and I look forward to continuing the process with you. 
Answer to a program you really are not interested in: Thank you for your interest at this point it is not on my list but I will be sure to reach out if that changes.
Top program you love: You can tell them it’s your top choice etc. They will tell you what the next step is and if not you can ask them.
Let me know if you have any more questions!!!!!! Enjoy the week. 👊

JM3 Recruiting Portal [LEARN MORE]

Go to: www.LacrosseRecruitingSecrets.com

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!

  • 34 Men's Lacrosse video excerpts from The Phi-Lacrosse-ophy Podcasts
  • 9 Women's Lacrosse Video excerpts from The Inside the 8 Podcast
  • 3 hour long video interviews with Ty Xanders on college lacrosse recruiting
  • Girls Lacrosse Recruiting interviews with Colleen Magarity
  • "Re-Classing, Repeating, and Red Shirting" with 3d New England's Matt Rowley
  • Recruiting Webinars: "So you Want to Play College Lacrosse" and "Lacrosse Recruiting Secrets"
  • 25 Recruiting Blog Posts covering everything from how to write an email to a coach to recruiting videos to what coaches are looking for most!

Go to: 


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Have a great weekend!


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