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When Running Plays, Runs Amuck…

Let me start by suggesting that my comments here are to be taken as food for thought. Coaches who spend 30 minutes or more in practice on a litany of very specific plays are often the coaches that seem to get the most frustrated on the sidelines. Coach Cannella from U Mass in our recent podcast recording offered the best description I have ever heard in running what he calls, “Freelance Within Sets” [private]

Now, setting up plays is a great idea for specific situations. Having an ‘In Bounds’ play for a quick shot, strategies for specific clears, finding a way to utilize specific favorable match-ups, are all great tools to have in your arsenal. But they need to be practiced regularly to be effective.

But, here is the deal. Lacrosse is a fluid sport and when played or coached correctly scenarios that happen ‘on the fly’ seem to be far more regular than those that occur exactly the way we draw them up on the board. Might you agree? Secondly, often times understanding the unique characteristics of the opposing defense or match-ups will dictate the offensive strategy and offensive opportunities. It is tough to run feeder plays from behind when their close D player is so good he disrupts most real chances to feed from behind. Perhaps keeping it simple is better.

Spending time in practice discussing and practicing objectives and opportunities from different sets might be a far better use of our time, and more fun for the kids and far more effective. For example, do your players truly understand your coaching philosophy when a player drives? Are you a coach who wants to set a pick for the driving player? Or, are you a coach who prefers that a player clear the area targeted by the driver to reduce any opportunity for the double? Do your players understand? Do you discuss these simple philosophies in practice?

When playing against a good coach, or seasoned defense, how many times can you call out the plays from the sidelines before everyone in the stadium realizes that play is a Middie sweep play off of a double pick?

I think that strong explanations to the kids on the objective of each set it a far better way to go. Do you spend time on spacing, and if a player drives, who the most likely player open might be? Or even offer/practice with your players, two option alternatives depending on the reaction of the defense. Explaining the specific opportunities off of a 2-3-1, or a 2-2-2, or a 1-4-1 and letting the kids work and create to the identified opportunity is a realistic approach to what really happens on the field.

Now having a few plays is fine, but matching the open nature of the game with your strategy and practice time will lend better results. Rather than coaching 6 – 10 specific plays, I recommend you coach two or three sets, and identify where the opportunities will be.

As another real-life example, your set plays may work pretty well against a man-to-man defense, but not so great against a zone defense. But if your players understand that when you see a zone, you want them to go into a 1-4-1, or potentially Invert to capitalize on a weaker short stick match-up either behind or even out in front will build confidence.

Understanding the utilization of sets, your players can often put defenders in a place where they are uncomfortable, or inexperienced and create great opportunities for transition opportunities even in six on six situations.

With just a little change in practice philosophy, this is effective with youth and Rec teams as well. Maybe it is just my imagination, but coaches calling out set changes from the sidelines, seem to have far less frustrations, then those yelling the same plays over and over again.[/private]

4 Responses to “Article: When Running Plays, Runs Amuck”

  1. Priorcegroome Says:

    Hi, Congratulations to the site owner for this marvelous work you’ve done. It has lots of useful and interesting data.

  2. coachmike Says:

    Thanks so much! We are always open to new ideas as well as guest articles,

    Coach Mike

  3. Forexnow Says:

    I have the same opinion as yours on this. What you said is true.

  4. coach B Says:

    i love this philosophy, and teach it every time I step on the field

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