Tag Archives: lacrosse

Position Spotlight – Midfield (Offense)

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This weeks Position Spotlight is Midfield Offense:

As I stated in our midfield post last week the midfielder (middie) is the work horse of the team. They need to have good stick skills, good endurance, and be able to play offense and defense. They have to be able to communicate while on the run, and most of all they need to bring the intensity.

The midfielder is constantly going, they never stop running. They should be good dodgers, and be able to shoot while on the run. They should also be good outside shooters. The midfielder controls the game by starting and stopping the offense. The faster they run, the faster the pace of play will be.  Midfielders should be the most athletic on the team because of all the running/dodging involved.

Overall,  midfielders need speed, strength and incredible endurance. Middies are required to run up and down the field, so quickness is a very important skill for this position. Middies must be ground ball hogs, shoot from the outside and be able to pass with purpose.

There are many keys to the position.  I like to teach offensive players the “DSP” (Dodge, Shoot, Pass) concept. I invented this term which was directly related to “Triple Threat” in basketball.  Basketball players must be able to dribble with both hands, pass with both hands and shoot with both hands.  Being from Long Island “Triple Threat” did not flow off my tongue smoothly so I invented “DSP”.

My concept is you Dodge to Shoot first then Pass.  I like to remind players that if you keep your stick vertical in the “DSP” position you can then be a threat to DODGE, SHOOT and PASS.

Pro Lacrosse Player Kyle Harrison likes to talk about three options as a midfielder:

  1. Option 1 – Dodge your man to Shoot
  2. Option 2 – Force the slide and pass to the open man.  After a pass, however, the midfielder should hustle down to the goal to grab a return pass if necessary.  A midfielder should always be on the move to keep the defense on their toes.
  3. Option 3 – Shoot the Gap – Kyle says he likes to do this in the second half of the game because he now knows how the team likes to slide and he can then go underneath the slide and come back to the front of the goal.

Dodging is another aspect of being an offensive midfielder and in my view the most important.  There are tons of different moves to make.  I always ask my players what they think is the best dodge.  I always get answers like the split, roll, face, swim, toe drags, hitch etc. etc..  I like to tell players the best dodge is to just run by the guy.

If you are faster then your opponent you should be able to make a quick step and accelerate through your dodge and past your opponent.

There are several keys to Dodging:

  1. Keep your head up at all times
  2. Accelerate through your dodge i.e. change speeds
  3. Go North and South – Running backs in Football understand this concept.  You also hear coaches say get down hill.  If you Dodge on an East and West plain your really have not accomplished much and the defense does not have to react as quickly
  4. Protect your stick.  By keeping your stick in the “DSP” position you will be less likely to expose your stick to a check and lose the ball
  5. Being able to Re-dodge.  This is an important concept that I teach.  Defenses are taught to take you out of your dodge but by incorporating a Re-dodge you can have another weapon to rely on.

Listed below are some great videos from some great offensive midfielders:

Kyle Harrison Dodging

Jeremy Sieverts Shooting on the Run

Various Offensive Dodges

See ya on the field…Coach Lou


Position Spotlight – Midfield

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This weeks Position Spotlight is Midfield:

Since being a midfielder involves several different skills both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.  This week will will focus on defense.

Midfielders have to do it all.  They are the cornerstones of every lacrosse team.  They have to play offense and defense, ride and clear and most importantly pickup and retain ground balls.

As a midfielder in High School I relished the idea of being able to play defense as it allows a player to be two dimensional.  Also when you are having a hard time on offense playing good defense can balance out an off day.  Being a solid defender prepared me to be a great rider when I moved to attack in college.

I truly believe anyone can play defense as it is mostly about desire and determination.  If you have those traits you can be successful.

Players who consistently play tough defense will more often than not find their way onto the field ahead of offensively-oriented players who ignore the other side of the ball.

One of most important aspect of becoming a better individual defender is to have a excellent understanding of team defense.  Every team employs particular slide packages and uses its own terminology to communicate on the field.  Some teams also incorporate a zone defense. It’s important to know how, when, and where to position yourself and help defensively on a dodging/driving offensive player.

Defensive positioning when your man does not have the ball (OFF BALL) is crucial to being able to slide or properly protect your defensive zone. When playing off the ball, you should drift in towards the hole where off-ball offensive players are most dangerous.

The ability to mark/cover your man and ensure that he isn’t capable of scoring on you while playing good team defense.  I always try and let young players know that if your man passed the ball,  you did your job.  Making your opponent uncomfortable while playing defense is paramount to your success.  I think it all starts with your stance and attitude.   If you are in a proper defensive/athletic stance and you look like you mean business the likelihood of someone dodging you goes way down.  As for your attitude you must have a mean/confident approach to playing defense where you opponent just wants to give up the ball and does not even want to try and dodge on you.

Covering your man is equally important whether he has the ball or is playing off the ball.  When your man doesn’t have the ball, be sure to keep an eye on him and the ball (head on swivel).  Your stick should always be up and on the inside of the offense, in the passing lanes as much as possible.  Never try and turn your back on the player you are covering as you will open yourself up to back door cuts and give and go’s.

When you are covering the man with the ball you need to remember and execute a few things:

  1. You will dictate the situation
  2. What are his strengths offensively
  3. Force him into uncomfortable spots and moves.  Make him go to his weak hand.
  4. Keep moving your feet and watch for a re-dodge
  5. Use stick checks as your last resort
  6. Be physical

Sometimes players can be held back defensively by a tendency to not be physical enough.  A good hard jam to the players hips will take him off of his dodge and change his angle.  You don’t have to be the most physically imposing player on the field but you can jam someone and move your feet.

Depending on the level of lacrosse you are playing (youth or High School) will determine how physical you can be.  The sport of lacrosse is getting serious about the take-out check.  I good hip check or jam is just as effective as knocking the player to the ground.  I find when players try and knock someone on the ground they are no in position to find the ball or help as a recovering defender.  This typically occurs around the crease.  Better to box someone out and get a ground ball then whiffing on the big check and giving up a goal.   Always position yourself between your man and the ball, and do whatever you can to keep it that way. Don’t be shy about pushing him out of position to give yourself the best chance at defending him.

Worrying about getting  a penalty can seriously alter the way you play defense.   As a coach I would prefer to get a technical push foul and play man-down defense then give up an easy goal on the crease.  If is important to play physical yet under control at all times, understanding that you may draw a penalty from time to time.

If your offensive game is lacking right now think hard about playing better fundamental defense.  If will give you and opportunity to stay on the field and you might surprise your coaches that you can score when given the chance.

The game has changed since I played High School lacrosse with more specialization with offensive midfielders, defensive midfielders and FOGO’s.  As a youngster growing up we used to go watch one of the best lacrosse players I have ever seen, Frank Urso from Brentwood, High School on Long Island.  Urso went on to be the first four-time All-American at Maryland and won two national championships.

As I said in the beginning of this article Midfielders have to do it all and Frank Urso never disappointed as be played by sides of the field with desire and determination.

Frank Urso 1976 NCAA Championship – Cornell 14 – Maryland 12




The Three Most Important Questions?

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As a long time Coach and mentor I came across this article (see below) that I thought was both interesting and thought-provoking.  I pride myself on connecting with young people and I have coached every level of player and almost every type of personality.  The quiet, emotional, difficult, happy-go-lucky, I don’t care, enthusiastic, fiery, sulking, athletic, non athletic, and anxious to name a few.  You name the adjective and I have probably coached it.  And frankly most coaches display these same traits as well as parents.  It’s what makes us part of the human race.

The article asks us three questions:

1.  Who tells us who we are?

2.  Where do we want to go with our lives?

3.  How do we want to get there?

Question one outlines the amount of noise all of us face each day especially young people.  Internet, Social Media, TV, Movies, Advertising etc.  The article stresses that we don’t hear enough of how hard we work, how curious, how to make a positive difference to others.  These forces stress the importance of what we wear, what we buy, who we hang out with how many people like us on Facebook, what college are we going to go to etc.  Instead of substance and character we worry about appearance and material objects.

I relate this to lacrosse because I can catch, throw and shoot with a $35 dollar stick vs the X15 model $200 stick.  Players and parents get to revved up about swag and sticks.  It is important to have good equipment but you don’t need to get a new stick or helmet every season.

Question two is important because  it defines who we are.  I have met many people in life who just go around aimlessly and never really finding a passion for anything.  They chase instant gratification and dollars signs but in the end I believe life is about relationships.  Coaching has allowed me to impact young people’s lives in a positive way.   While I have made many mistakes over the years,  I cherish the moments that I have with all my players.  Some players I may have only coached for a year and others for many seasons.  It is a joy to get a note or a call from them and know that I was part of their life.

Question three the author proclaims is the most important question.  How do want to get there?  He speaks of cheating to get ahead.  Lacrosse like other sports has cheaters.  The player that grabs the ball on the Face-off, illegal stick stringing, thumbing the ball to name a few.  We as players, parents and coaches should praise the players that play by the rules and use hard work and determination to get ahead.  Short cuts never really get you to your destination. 

I don’t profess to know everything there is to know about millennials, baby boomers or X and Y generations.  But these questions are not just unique in today’s day and age.

Socrates once said this about youth:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

Socrates died in 399 BC.  Think about that for moment.  Here is one of the worlds greatest philosophers complaining about youth during his life.  I would like  more optimistic about our young people then Socrates was.  They have brightness and enthusiasm and I am honored to be around them every day.

As another great Philosopher, Charles Schultz (Peanuts creator) once said “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”



See ya on the field