Tag Archives: lacrosse IQ

Lacrosse IQ

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Over the years playing sports and coaching lacrosse for over 30 years I have heard the term Lacrosse IQ.  Like many coaches, players and parents I am not sure if we all know what it means.  As with anything in life as you get older you experience many things and gather a knowledge base to refer too.  I have tried to put some lacrosse IQ references in this article so you can review them as a player, coach or parent which I hope helps you better understand the game.

People often speak of Lacrosse IQ but what exactly are they referring too?  The term often comes up when evaluating players and coaches on their knowledge of the intangible aspects of the game.  It is easy to judge the lacrosse skills that players possess; how hard they shoot, can they save the ball, can they clear the ball after a save, how accurate is their shot, can they pick up a ground ball the first time, in traffic, full speed, how fast they run, can they pass, can they catch, can they cover their man, can they throw good checks, etc. These are all critical skills in the development of a lacrosse player.  At some point coaches look for intangibles.

There is no magic pill: Lacrosse like anything else we do in life takes a lot of hard work.  I however have a better term for it…It’s called FUN! There is no magic pill that you can take to become proficient at every level of the game it take a lot of FUN! to improve your game.  Playing and watching lacrosse will help with what I call Lacrosse IQ or Lacrosse Smarts. Here are just a few of the intangible traits lacrosse players of all skill levels may or may not currently possess but can further develop  to improve and demonstrate their lacrosse IQ:

Off Ball Movement or Moving without the Ball:

  • Knowing how to move “off ball” to create space for teammates? This is what I call “One/One Thousand” when you cut to the cage towards the crease if you count to “One/One Thousand” if you don’t get the ball you need to vacate the area and create space
  • Off ball movement refers to how an offensive player moves when they do not possess the ball. Creating space and limiting your defenders’ ability to slide or double-team is an important and often overlooked skill.  This is one of the toughest things to coach players at any level.  Moving without the ball.  When your teammate is running toward you with the ball.  Cut through and bring your defender with you so he can’t double team your teammate.

Pushing the Pace or Transition:

  • Transition refers to the process of moving the ball from the defensive end of the field to the offensive side.  Odd man transition is usually referred to as a fast break; 4 on 3 players or 5 on 4 players. Even transition refers to a 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 or a “slow break” situation.  Many coaches teach their team to slow it down and settle in on offense on a slow break. Players with a high Lacrosse IQ and who are given the flexibility to think for themselves at a young age will recognize the situation or match-up and take advantage of an “even” transition offensive opportunity.  This is what I call finding the “Two on One” Lacrosse is a game of 2 on 1 if you really think about it.  When Clearing the ball you have an extra man to pass too and when you are on offense you are trying to find the “Two on One” by dodging and beating your man and passing to your teammate because his man had to cover you.  Basketball, Hockey and Soccer players understand this quickly.  Pushing the Pace means playing FAST or quickly between whistles.  If you know the ball is going to go out of bounds and the other team is going to get it.  Just sprint up-field and get ready to ride the other team and try and take it away to create a transition opportunity.

Ground Ball Hound:

  • Can the player contribute to his team’ success on ground balls even without picking up the ground ball?
  • Most players are taught the “man/ ball” team approach to ground balls. You will often see a player with a high IQ knock a ball to a teammate or into an open space where he will have a better chance of picking up a ground ball.  This hockey move is frequently mastered by players who may be considered undersized. These players are smart enough to avoid a physical mismatch but they are able to utilize their speed and agility to dominate on ground balls.


  • Do they know how to “hedge” on defense to assist a teammate without actually sliding?
  • Hedging is a skill in which a defensive player positions himself in such a way to force an opposing player (not his man) to think twice about dodging to the goal or making an aggressive offensive move.  A player hedging gives the appearance of sliding or doubling without actually leaving the man they are covering.  This subtle move is a signal to lacrosse coaches that the player knows what they are doing.

    Move the ball off a ground ball or GB2:

  • I have a rule with my High School and Coyote teams.  When you pick up a ground ball (especially in the offensive end of the field) you should move the ball twice off that ground ball.   So when I pick up the ball I hope I have two teammates within 10-15 yards away from me (or adjacent) so I can pass them the ball.  We do this because when the ball is on the ground everyone is looking at the ball.   By moving the ball twice the defense has to adjust.  Just think how quickly you can play the game and create transition opportunities just by picking up a ground ball and passing it to a teammate right away and in turn they pass it to another teammate.  You will create many “Two on ones” if you can master this simple rule.

Do they recognize game situations:

  • Picture a situation where your team has a lead, time is winding down, your team is in the middle of a substitution and your team was just awarded the ball following a shot or following the ball going out of bounds.  A player with a low lacrosse IQ might hurry and pick up the ball, step on the field and allow the referee to start play with a quick whistle. The high IQ player might walk to the ball, adjust his gloves, tie his shoe; all legal moves which will allow his team to complete their substitution, catch their breath and prepare to clear the ball.  A low lacrosse IQ player will force the situation on offense and make a risky move when his team has a lead and when they are killing the clock.  High lacrosse IQ goalies will draw goalie interference calls and take advantage of the time the rules allow for him to return to the goal following a shot (5 Seconds), trying to score a goal with a minute left and your team is up by a goal.  You should just possess the ball, one more goal for your team does not matter but having the other team make a save and start a fast break could allow that team to tie the game and then win it.

There are many other Lacrosse IQ moments but these are just a few that will help you gain more lacrosse smarts and hopefully improve your game.  Watch as many games as you can and ask yourself what would I do in that situation.


See ya on the field!


Coach Lou


Read More – It Helps Your Game

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I always feel like a little kid every time I walk into a book store. I’m nearly giddy with anticipation and wondering what book I’ll get that day. What gets me the most though is the smell. That awesome new book smell that permeates the store. Once I smell that I’m back to being ten years old.

When I was a young boy I was obsessed with a book series by K.A. Applegate called “Animorphs.” In this series a bunch of teenage kids defend the world against an alien invasion by morphing into any animal they touch. That is tailor-made plot for a young kid, plus they can morph into animals! In the regular series there were fifty-four books and a new one was released every month or two. I spent about five years reading and rereading all of these books as they came out. I was fully immersed in the Animorphs world and I loved every story.

Then a few years ago while working lacrosse camps at the Ron Clark Academy I noticed they were building a new library for their students and were accepting book donations. I gathered all of my Animorph books out of storage, organized them on my bedroom floor and spent a weekend rereading every book. It was my goodbye to a book series that created a hunger in me to read as much as I could whenever I could. Once I was done I packed all the books up and dropped them off at the Ron Clark Academy where I hope they will bring a passion for reading to more kids.

Since my Animorph days I spend a good bit of my money on books. I’ve mentioned my Ender’s Game and Dune obsession, but I’m not always on a science-fiction kick. Some weeks I’m reading biographies. Others I’m reading histories on war. Sometimes I read books that I would never typically read like Tina Fey’s Bossypants. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t read part of some book.

I’ve outlined my reading history because my interactions with young players the past few years has indicated to me that most kids don’t read much at all, and that makes me sad. I’ve met a few players that are bigger readers than me, but the vast majority view reading as a tedious chore. This doesn’t surprise me much. After all young kids these days can access pretty much any snippet of information at once just by using their phone. Actually sitting down and reading a three-hundred page book is a daunting task when most of what you read anyway is in small bite-sized pieces. The thing is I can’t blame technology for this reading dilemma. I use the same tech but I still find time to read a few chapters of a new book. My reading history allows me to see big picture ideas and see the theory that the book is working from. Many young players only see the trees at the expense of the forest while they read and while they play.

I never earned playing time by being the biggest, fastest or most skilled player. I earned my time by being one of the few players on the field that could see the entire game. My dad calls it field sense or lacrosse IQ, but whatever you call it I had it because I was such a voracious reader. I spent years reading and rereading stories with complicated plot lines and characters. Eventually I became skilled at figuring out where a book was going (although I could never predict the endings in any Agatha Christie book). This ability translated to the lacrosse field where I was able to know where the ball was going to be before it actually got there. It made me appear much faster than I was as I usually showed up at the right time, but I could predict the flow of the game because my mind got trained at conceptual thinking every time I read a book.

I can give pretty much any youth player one or two tasks and he will perform them well, but I rarely find a player who understands the importance of slowing down an offensive possession after playing three minutes of defense. You cannot understand a book or the game by reading the cliff notes. You have to study it intensely.

Featured Image Credit – www.arlkids.com


– If you have a favorite book or books let me know what they are in the comments section!

Chess Club

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I’m not sure if it was my idea or my parent’s idea for me to join the Esther Jackson Elementary Chess Club, but I am  glad I was introduced to chess at a very early age. I started learning chess in the fourth grade and I’ve been playing ever since. I don’t remember my chess teacher’s name, but as far as I was concerned he was a chess master. I never beat him, but he always taught me something new about the game.

I started competing in chess tournaments around Roswell in fifth grade. I lost my fair share, but I also placed at a couple of them. If nothing else, I was a tough opponent because I learned something from every chess match that made me better. Win, lose or draw I got better at chess by being a student of the game. Which, as far as I am concerned, is the only way to approach any game. If I looked at chess as a game where I knew everything I would not have learned anything.

It is important to remain a student of the game throughout your playing days. For chess that meant playing against my computer ever chance I got, watching “Searching For Bobby Fischer,” and playing against my best friend often. For lacrosse that meant practicing my off-hand for a whole month until it was better than my strong hand. It meant watching the best defensemen in the NCAA championship games on Memorial Day weekend, and asking tons of questions whenever I went to a lacrosse camp. I wasn’t the fastest, the strongest, or the best stick checker but I could see the entire game.

I remember playing with a bird’s-eye view of the field. I played the game like I was playing chess, directing my teammates around on the field with different commands because I knew where the ball was going to be before it got there. My dad calls this game sense or Lacrosse IQ, but really it is just anticipation. Because I was a student of the game for so many years I could get into the flow of the game better than most. This helped me earn playing time despite my lack of size and speed.

My experiences with chess taught me patience, and my experiences with lacrosse taught me decisiveness. When combined those two qualities create a solid chess player and a capable lacrosse player. However, if you are not a student of your game then all you will learn is frustration. Even if you are the biggest, strongest, fastest player out there. You must combine patience and decisiveness in order to become a complete player. If you lean too heavily on patience you will never be in the right spot at the right time, and if you don’t learn decisiveness you will never get to the right spot fast enough.

If you are serious about becoming the best lacrosse player you can be I highly recommend learning and playing chess. You will learn strategy and increase your ability to see the big picture, which will serve you well on the lacrosse field.