Tag Archives: dodge

Keep Moving

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Keep Moving

I learned an important lesson about movement off the lacrosse field. I was sixteen and taking Muay Thai kickboxing lessons at a local martial arts academy. My instructor set up the class in a mob drill. The mob drill teaches students how to get away from more than one attacker.

When I first got into the mob drill I got pummeled. I thought defensively and stayed in one place. This allowed all of the attackers to mass around me, and while they were not punching with full power I realized that if they were I would be in a world of hurt. A few months later it was mob drill time, but before the drill my instructor pulled me aside and told me with very little explanation to go crazy. He wanted me to attack the attackers, find open space and then reengage.

So I was set in the middle of six of my fellow students and when my instructor said go I went a little overboard.

I yelled at the top of my lungs and rushed the person closest to me. I threw a few punches and ran to a corner of the gym. All of my attackers were a little stunned at my brash attack. They tentatively approached me so I yelled out again and ran to the perimeter of the group, punched my way around them and ran to the other side of the gym. This went on for about three minutes and while I took a few punches it was much fewer than when I just stood still.

I learned that when facing multiple attackers it pays to be on the move. Standing still is a death sentence.

I see way too many youth and high school players who stop moving when they shouldn’t. Players who pick up a ground ball and then stop. Players who run into a double team and try to split dodge back where they came only to run into the other defender. Players who can’t catch the ball cleanly because they will not move their feet away from their defender.

The lacrosse field is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide. There is open space available, but many players would rather run through the gauntlet of defenders than pass the ball around them.

I blame isolation dodges for this problem. Coaches, especially at the youth level, love giving their biggest or fastest kid the ball and having him run at the cage for a high-percentage shot. The problem is that many of these coaches do not coach isolation dodges correctly. They start them off of a dead-ball restart or have the iso player run way up to the midfield line. Both of those methods allow defenses to settle in.

The correct way to run an isolation dodge is to do it off of ball movement. When a ball is passed the defenders have to move to follow the ball. Isolation dodges are much more effective off a couple of passes especially when the iso player catches the ball on the run. Add in having the rest of the players clear out of the way, which drastically reduces the gauntlet of defenders that the iso player might run into.

Too many coaches at the youth level are content to let their best player handle the ball. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Get the ball to Timmy! To Timmy! Get it to Timmy!” It appears to be the coach’s only game plan. There are five other players on offense that need to be included if any team is going to be successful. If everyone is running around and cutting, even the least-skilled player is having a positive impact on your offense.

Featured Image Credit – www.onebigphoto.com


Planned Obsolescence

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Planned obsolescence is a business strategy in which the obsolescence (the process of becoming obsolete—that is, unfashionable or no longer usable) of a product is planned and built into it from its conception. This is done so that in future the consumer feels a need to purchase new products and services that the manufacturer brings out as replacements for the old ones” (http://www.economist.com/node/13354332).”

Have you planned obsolescence into your lacrosse game? Are you practicing with the correct technique every time or are you taking shortcuts during practices, games, and on your own time? If you have dreams of playing at the next level. Whether that be a travel team, your school’s JV or Varsity program, or college lacrosse you cannot plan obsolescence into your game. If you do, you will never make it to that next level.

I do not mean to sound harsh, but the truth is simple: players that practice as consistently and as perfectly as they can are the ones who will reach their goals in lacrosse. You play how you practice and you’re game will eventually rust out if you do the following regularly in practice:

  • Scoop the ball one handed instead of getting low with two hands
  • Let your stick hang to the side after a dodge
  • Shoot sidearm (I know it looks cool, but until you can shoot it overhand you don’t need to worry about sidearm)
  • Checking without moving your feet on defense
  • Twirling your stick when running down the field
  • Not stepping to the ball as a goalie

I could continue, but you get the point. Poor habits in practice lead to lacrosse skills that are obsolete. However, the basics are always on the cutting edge. If you master the basics, the foundation of your game, you can then experiment as you gain mastery of lacrosse. Believe it or not, there is a time and place for scooping the ball one handed, for raking the ball, for shooting sidearm. I don’t encourage my youth players to do any of these things because they have not yet mastered the basics of their game.

We as coaches have a responsibility to ensure that all of players coming out to play lacrosse do everything as well as they possibly can. They don’t have to be perfect straight out of the gate, but they need to have the fundamentals down. In all levels of lacrosse, but youth especially, the coach must be eagle-eyed to players taking shortcuts because they are tired, feeling a little lazy, or too cool for school. If you let your players take these shortcuts, you are allowing them to cement poor habits into their game before they’ve even stepped on the field in competition. Don’t allow your player’s game to break down and rust. Be vigilant as a coach and always insist that players do everything they can to enhance their game.

Here’s something I tell my players at nearly every practice: “I don’t care if you miss the ball, just hustle to get it and get right back into the drill.” Don’t allow your players to focus on their mistakes, reward the hustle if they miss the ball and you ingrain something in them much more important than any lacrosse skill you teach. You ingrain the desire to forget about the mistake and get back into the drill, which will serve your players well as they grow in this game.

FYI – If you’re in the Atlanta area, I offer private and group instruction. Feel free to email me at rules@ayllax.com if your player is interested in lessons. I specialize in the fundamentals, defensive technique, and speed and agility training.

Featured Image Credit – www.flickrhivemind.net