Wednesday - 4:30 to 6:00 at MARSHDALE. We are scrimmaging the 7th grade Mtn Lax team.
Friday - 6:00 to 8:00 at GOLDEN GOAL. This will be a light-contact, mental focus oriented practice due to expectation of a game the next day. It will result in a bit of a late night, but hopefully the boys can still get a good night's rest.
We do expect to play our first league game on Saturday the 13th, but the schedule has not been released yet, so please stay tuned!
Most importantly, the boys had a lot of fun. The coaches agreed it was exciting to watch and see improvement in every facet of the game. We wanted to share the following four key topics:
1. Defense. We began with strong defense against a bigger team, resulting in a scoreless first half. We really did a great job getting the ball out of the defensive zone, and I was very proud of the hard work our boys have done to get to this point. But then we struggled to control the ball after clearing the defensive zone, often losing possession after running 1/2 to 2/3 down the field, only to have to sprint back and play defense again. Frequently this resulted from our players holding the ball too long instead of looking to make a quick pass.
More times than we could count, our players were caught with their stick hanging, allowing the trailing check to take away the ball. We will work to clear up this issue immediately; it should be very rare by the 6th grade level.
Lacrosse is punishing in this respect: when a team cannot control the ball and move it downfield effectively to set up their offense, players end up running a lot of sprints most of the game, which leads to mental errors and breakdowns. Solution: strengthen individual stick skills, catching and throwing. We did ask each player to be sure and get in at least another hour of wall or rebounder time minimum, before the next practice.
2. Offense. Because we struggled to maintain possession of the ball, we failed to run the 1-4-1 offense that had been the focus of the prior three offensive practices. The 1-4-1 is an excellent set for 6th graders to run, since it creates a lot of space and enables many scoring opportunities. We missed a number of opportunities to draw a double team and dump to the open man, and only had three or four shots on goal due to a very static (i.e. exhausted) offense. But no matter what offensive set a team attempts to run, whether 1-4-1, 3-2-1, 1-3-2, 2-2-2, or 3-3, you can't run plays if you can't maintain possession of the ball. Solution: we will be working on 1v1 dodging skills as well as the dodge/follow/float motion shown here, and will drill this motion concept in small group 3v0, 3v2, and 3v3 during this week's practices.
3. Transition. We have practiced the fast break a fair amount already this season, but we gave up several goals in unsettled situations. Fatigue led to mental errors, but the coaches also detected an element of basic confusion on who was supposed to do what. The tell-tale signs here were lunging out of control on slides, as well as a very quiet defense. Solution: we will be running more of the West Genny fast break drill, and will also focus on very vocal defensive communication this week.
4. Off-Ball Movement. Whether on offense or defense, games are won and lost based upon what is happening away from the ball. Our single goal was the result of a strong individual effort, and you can always count on a goal or two from individual efforts. But winning games is about teamwork, and we simply need to get better at helping our teammates through hard work away from the ball. Solution: more individual specialization around each player's primary position. We are excited to see several opportunities for our players to flourish at a specific position, and will be doing more of this in the coming days.
"Be the Best" - At the end of each practice and game you will hear our team chant, "BE THE BEST!" This means, each player commits to be the best he can be in his role, in his skills and in his mindset, so that he can help his teammate, in turn, be the best that he can be. Our coaches are committed to doing the same thing we ask of the players, to be the best we can be in order to help the boys be their best.
We appreciate your support in this journey!