Newton Lacrosse, Newton Youth Lacrosse,

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The problem with most young players is that they mistakenly do the same thing while watching a lacrosse game as they do when they play: THEY ONLY WATCH THE PLAYER WITH THE BALL! Below is hopefully a helpful lesson in how to watch a lacrosse game and learn how to become a team player. It might sound awkward, but really, take this handout to a game and LEARN! It will improve your game.

Arrive before the game begins to watch the warm up. What drills are they running? What skills are the drills teaching—ground balls, dodging, shooting, defense? Watch closely how the players who play your position are focused on specific parts of their game—where are their hands, how are they holding the stick, how do they move their feet, where and when are they shooting the ball. Remember this most important lesson: FOCUS ON THE PLAYERS WITHOUT THE BALL! What are the off-ball players doing? What are they trying to accomplish, without the ball? Watch off ball players find the “seams” and create “passing lanes” to make themselves available to the ball! How important is adjacent help in keeping the ball HOT ?

As the game begins, do your best to move as the game is played. You should take time to stand behind a bench and listen to the coaches and players. You should take time to stand down one end of a field and watch TRANSITION offense and defense develop as the ball comes over midfield. Whatever you do, DO NOT sit in the same place and simply “watch the ball”. LISTEN & LEARN. Listen to the chatter on the field and identify it. How do the players communicate with each other? How can the goalie’s talk be helpful? Who takes command of the offense? Try to answer some of these questions as you watch the game:
What offensive set (or shape) is the team running . Where is the offense starting from? Are they starting at X or from up top, the sides of the field. Does the offense set/shape change?
How often does the ball move “THROUGH” X?
When does the defense have to “slide” to help a teammate?
Where are the players on the RIDE? Where are they in the CLEAR?
How do the players pick up ground balls? What do they do after picking up the ball?

OK, now it is cool for you to check out individual players. Who is the best player and why did you select him? How does the best defenseman or middie or attackman move—and this is the key—WITH THE BALL AND WITHOUT THE BALL. Next, PRACTICE FOCUSING ON ONE PLAYER FOR AN ENTIRE SET WITHOUT FOCUSING ON THE BALL. Most players and fans and even coaches can tell you who scored on whom but cannot tell you anything else. Center on one player and watch his every move—how he changes speeds/direction, cuts, how he moves to balance the field, and importantly how he reacts to turnovers and offense-to-defense or defense-to-offense. Forget the ball—again.
Last, don’t focus so much on the end result. Continue to learn that the score is a very poor indicator, sometimes, of a how a team has played. Focus on each small play that leads to a great play or poor play. Focus on THE DECISIONS THAT ALL PLAYERS MAKE WHEN UNDER PRESSURE. 

For those who truly want to be great: If you are serious about this great sport of lacrosse, watch as much as you can and play as much as you can without letting YOUR PLAY deteriorate into what a lot of lacrosse is—an alternating series of running up and down the field where the ball ends up on the ground often, where the passing and catching is weak, where both teams simply let one or two players touch the ball.The lesson here is to become a GREAT TEAM PLAYER.

Now, get out to that next lacrosse game, develop your lacrosse intelligence and bring your game to the next level!!! You will become great ONLY if you THINK like a great lax player. And great lax players know the game—they develop Lax Intelligence!!