This week we will be talking about the position of attack and some of the nuances to improve as an attack-man. As a former college attack-man, I have my views on how the position should be played. As with any sport, take in as much as you can by listening to your coaches and watching as many lacrosse games as possible. Look at players that you admire and try and emulate what they do. It could be an inside roll, a push-off pass to get your hands free, question mark dodge or a toe drag.
NO, I repeat NO attack-man can do these moves without mastering the fundamentals.
Attack is a position that requires a good deal of time and dedication to improve your game. Once a player masters the fundamentals of using both their left and right hand skills (cradling, catching, passing, dodging, shooting, moving without the ball, making the exchange and riding).
Attack-men are expected to have the best stick skills on the team. The ability to play with your off-hand is very important. When a defender recognizes that you’re going to same hand every time, he will force you to go to your weak hand, where he can dictate the situation. By having equal stick skills with both hands you will eliminate this problem.
Work hard to get the off-hand to the same level as the strong hand. Wall Ball is the magic pill to improve your stick work. I spent countless hours over the years to get a better stick. I also used a mirror in my room to see if everything I did looked the same from the both sides of my body. Lacrosse like basketball is one of the only sports where players must have the ability to play with the non-dominant hand to be an effective player. Could you imagine Lebron James or Stephen Curry not being able to dribble with both hands. As a young player I used to dodge trees in my back yard to emulate defensive players.
With the explosion of the Canadian influence in the field game you see more players being one-handed dominate. As a lacrosse purist especially attack I believe you should be able to use both hands.
Dedicate as much or more time to your off-hand as to the strong one. I like to tell young players to use their opposite hand to do simple day to day tasks. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand, open doors, turn on lights, eat and write. Using your opposite hand will give you more dexterity and give you confidence.
There is a 14th century Fransician friar William Ockham who came up with a theory (Ockham’s Razor) that holds true today. What he said was:
“when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.”
Many players watch Lyle Thompson or Rob Pannell make behind-the-back shots, bounce passes, wrap checks and one-handed ground-ball pickups all look easy and they can pull them off. The same can’t always be said when a youth or high school player attempts those maneuvers in a game and gets a different result.
When finishing around the cage, simpler is better. There’s no need to go faking three or four times. One fake and a shot to the opposite part of the cage should be enough movement to deceive the goalie.
The same should apply to dodges. When dodging from behind or on the wing, it should be one move and go! Use your dodge to create space to get your hands free and either pass or shoot. Doing more than one dodge really only gives the defender a chance to recover from the first one. Unless you’ve been taught how to use one move to immediately set up another, your best bet is to use one dodge and then make your move toward the cage.
Everybody needs a Go-To move. Like face-off specialists they usually have one or two moves that help them dominate. Have at least one move that you can go to in a tight spot when the situation calls on you to make a big play for your team. Analyze your strengths as an attack-man and decide which dodge works for you. Speed helps and quick feet but you most always go full speed, change speed and keep your head up. You will play against different types of players. Aggressive checkers, small quick defenders, the guy that does not make mistakes and is always there on your hands. During the game you will have to probe your defense-men and get a feel for how they will play you.
They call the position Attack for a reason…you are supposed to attack your defender.
When playing attack, there are not many opportunities for longer distance time and room shots. Since most attack-men handle the ball around goal or behind the cage, most of the shots they take will be from in close and sometimes at odd angles. This places a premium on being able to finish with accuracy around the goal. Practice inside rolls, question mark and rocker dodges as much as you can.
You should also have a great quick stick and have the ability to make no look passes as well as passing in traffic.
Practice as much as possible (School comes first) and it will take your game up to a higher level, your performances should get better each time out. Don’t slack on the practice field (take it seriously) and get out and hone the skills necessary to be a go-to-guy on your team. Remember, the best players practice obsessively, and if you want to get to that level you better be prepared to do the same. Put in the work, and the results will come.
Over the years before You Tube I watched players like Mike French and Eamon McEneaney and some of the older players on my High School team. I did not have the luxury of technology but I never missed a day of wall ball and that is why I was able to master the position.
Listed below are some current players, who by watching may help you improve your game.
See ya on the field,