When players from our lacrosse club, FLG ‘For the Love of the Game’, approach showcase season, we always stress the importance of playing the right way. This concept is definitely easier said than done.
Showcases are tremendous opportunities and can be stages that propel athletes from one level to the next. These events can give players a chance to compete in front of hundreds of schools in a short period of time.
However, showcases can also be a very challenging environment for players to compete. For one, lacrosse recruits enter events in which they are forced to compete with and against players who have parents or guardians that preach, “Stand out. Score. This is Your time.” In addition to combating selfish play, lacrosse recruits have added pressures of playing for a new coaching staff, competing in front of college coaches, and working with players they’ve never met before.
That being said, if players know the true meaning of playing the right way and practice this style of play consistently, then they will be more likely to impress. Our hypothesis has been tested. Our player’s have proven that a team oriented approach to playing in a showcase is contagious, fun, successful, and attractive.
- Contagious – showcase participants gravitate towards a team oriented style of play, as opposed to a let me get mine mentality.
- Fun – coaches enjoy working with selfless athletes who are always looking to make the right play.
- Successful – when teams compete together at a showcase, they succeed as a team. A team that’s more competitive is more likely to showcase the individuals within it.
- Attractive – recruiters are more likely to watch good lacrosse over a more selfish, individualized game. Defensively, recruiters want to see how players can work in a unit, communicate, and think. Offensively, recruiters want to see who’s capable of sacrificing a good shot for a great one. Who can resist throwing a good pass, so his teammate can make the next great pass.
What does it mean to play the right way in lacrosse? A question we ask ourselves each week. At FLG , the goal is to consistently get our athletes to compete the right way, as a program, as a team, and as individuals. Today, I’d like to share FLG’s philosophies on playing the right way as individuals. We will cover each specific position in the game. So, next time you’re about to compete at a showcase, you too know how to play the right way.
- Move off-ball most college coaches watch what you do off-ball. An active off-ball player is an effective one because they create space for their teammates, put themselves in a good opportunity to make a play, and it makes you very difficult to guard.
- Dodge, re-dodge coaches want to see which players can draw slides. If you dodge and fail to get the defense moving, have another go at your man. Persistence is an impressive quality in a middie.
- Move the ball after you’ve done your job, share the ball. Coaches don’t need you to dodge thru 7 guys. Do the simple things right, like moving the ball when it’s time.
- Take away the middle defensively, coaches want to see who can defend the middle of the field. Take more pride in defense than you do when playing offense. Remember, if you screw up on defense,then the ball will find it’s way in the back of your net. That looks bad for not just you, but the other 6 guys on your defensive unit.
- Get your hands on people this means getting up on your man, and making contact on defense. Don’t let your man get a 10 yard head start. Get up on them, make contact, and direct where you want them to go.
- Ground balls college coaches want to know who can get a tough ground ball! A skill, or will, that is guaranteed to get plus signs written next to your name.
- Ride, hustle, speed riding is essentially defending. Attackers that can defend in the riding game are valuable. Coaches want to see who’s willing to take pride in trying to get the ball back. Don’t leave that job up to the defense, let that job be yours too, help the defense, hustle, show your speed, ride, impress.
- Dodging to score college coaches are impressed by attackers who get to the goal, draw slides, and are tough. Don’t dodge with the intention of moving the ball to the next player. Dodge like you want to turn the corner and put the ball in the back of the net.
- Moving off-ball see midfield above!
- Timing & Patience – showcases tend to have a lot of fast-paced, out of control play. Don’t be afraid to have a long offensive possession. Take control of the offense by getting all your subs onto the field, your players set, and everyone on the same page. Time up when to go to the goal, and work for the best possible shot.
- Scope/timing your slide – Scope is an off-ball term that means always seeing your man and the ball. Coaches are impressed by defenders who are constantly aware. Recognize your player, as well as where the ball is consistently, and you will impress coaches too.
- No easy exchanges on the perimeter – Don’t even let your man catch the ball. Defenders think showcases are a time to let their man catch the ball so coaches can watch them defend. Screw it. Get on the player your defending before they receive a pass. don’t wait. Show your athleticism in open space. Make it hard for the other team to exchange the ball around the perimeter.
- Know when to throw stick check – simple rule of thumb, the closer your are to your goal, the less stick checks you throw.
- Approaches & breaking down – these are fundamental concepts that show coaches you are a polished defender. Don’t fly out at people like a thundering buffalo. Be mindful with where you approach your player, where your feet should be, and where you wish to direct the person you’re guarding.
- Switching the field & communicating – in the clearing game, make the right play. Don’t feel obligated to toe drag 3 guys, dodge three girls, or run the ball up the field yourself. If someone’s open ahead of you or across the field, move the ball to them. Is your teammate in trouble? Then talk to them. Tell them you’re open. Impress by directing traffic on the field.
- Show your athleticism – if you have to run by an attacker after making a save, do it. If you need to leave your crease to pick-up a ground ball, go for it. Don’t hold back from showcasing your athleticism.
- Control rebounds – coaches not only want to see you save the ball, they want to see you control rebounds. Do your best to keep the ball from escaping your crease after making a big save.
- Communicate – just talk. You can be yelling in spanish, that’s better than nothing. While a goalies primary responsibility is saving the ball, a goalie who can also talk will only be more valuable to a team.
- Quick Outlets – after making a save, try and find the open player on your team quickly. Don’t hold the ball unnecessarily.
- Backing up the cage – backing up the cage after a shot showcases awareness, athleticism, and competitiveness. Show that you want the ball back for your team. A sure way for coaches to notice you and be impressed
- Sense the slide – are you winning most of your face-offs/draws? If so, great! Now it’s time to make the right play with the ball. Don’t go to the cage every time. You might have to go backwards to your goalie, you may have to feed your attacker, you may have to run for dear life. Do what’s right, not what’s convenient.
- Get the ball out quickly – try and win draws as cleanly as you can. Coaches will be impressed by your ability to play fast, and see your quickness too.
- Use your body – if you don’t win the draw clean, use your body to shield your opponent. Box players out if necessary. Demonstrate grit. Throw your body. Earn tough ground balls.
- Track the flight of the ball – if you like to pop the ball up, forward, or back on the draw, be sure to control where that ball goes. Coaches are impressed by athletes who can control the flight of the ball and be able to track where it lands.
I hope some of this insight was helpful as you look to impress college coaches at a showcase. Playing the right way takes time, practice, and numerous repetitions. Make sure to associate yourself with players and teams that convey this same message.