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Playing Lacrosse is honestly a gift.
The sport offers a pace and competitiveness that isn’t rivaled by many other sports out there. Sadly many players (potentially you) are not taking advantage of all that this wonderful game has to offer. If you take a second to look at the opportunities that have been presented to several different players in recent years, and in the past, you can see that it is much more fun to experiment with the game of Lacrosse. This means using various sticks, various stringing patterns, and various styles of equipment between different forms of the game.
Defensemen should practice using short sticks to develop better stick skills. Attackmen should play defense for a chance to get some payback. Or maybe they can work on their footwork and body positioning. Not my call. Lacrosse Shooters should hop in the cage so they appreciate their goalie more and potentially work on reaction time. Midfielders should just keep running like always but on both sides of the field. Transition goals are some of the most exciting plays in games! Being on the field more, and playing the game in many ways, will only make you a better player, never a worse one.
Lyle Thompson: Our Allen Iverson/Wayne Gretzky Hybrid
Despite Lyle Thompson never winning it all, he was “The Great One” in college. Much like Wayne Gretzky on the ice, he was unstoppable and always had some extra flair too. He was and is a fearless attacker much like AI. Unafraid of defenders because he is just more skilled.
His unrivaled ability to score and assist was only combated by his brother Miles; who shared the Tewaaraton award with him in 2014. Lyle and his brother spent their youth and summers experimenting with the game in styles of “backyard lacrosse”. This style involves shooting and passing at a board with a hole just big enough for a ball to pass through covering the goal. They also learned to approach scoring and passing differently; to create rather than play. Experimentation allowed them to adapt to the changing moments of a game much better than most players. However, this was not their only method of lacrosse training outside of the field.
Lyle Thompson is the dominant force that he is, and was an All-Time Great of College Lacrosse because he grew up playing Box Lacrosse. His vision and ability to keep the ball in his stick comes from Box Lacrosse. Even when a defender is draped over him he has skills that he perfected in Box that allow him to play it cool. If you check out the video on YouTube “Lyle Thompson vs. Matt Landis” you can see how he keeps the ball glued to his stick most of the game. Late in the game, Landis starts getting the ball out with the help of slides and Thompson’s fatigue, but he still keeps his composure for the most part.
Take the time to find a Box League or take the chance on playing up North if you don’t live by any. Box can greatly improve your offensive confidence along with making you a better defender. No poles means body positioning or bust. Every player plays defense in Box, and the defensive pressure you will experience is aggressive. Being able to play under this pressure will make regular defense seem like a massage. This will improve your game no matter what position you play in Field Lacrosse; even Goalie.
Blaze Riorden Coast to Coast; Then Goalie to Forward
An amazing goalie for the Albany Danes during their prime with the Thompson family is now also playing professional Box Lacrosse. The influence of playing with the Thompsons luckily motivated Blaze Riorden to try out Box Lacrosse with him one summer. They were all at Albany and Blaze took a trip with the Thompsons to play Box the right way. You might recognize the fruits of his labor from every highlight page below…
After going with The Thompsons and trying out Box Lacrosse he went on to play forward, not goalie, on the USA Indoor Team. Blaze also made The Buffalo Bandits this year, again at Forward. Despite what people may think of Blaze because he plays Goalie, he is a great athlete and his stick skills are very sound. Blaze fit right in becuase he spent a lot of time on his stick skills along with playing goalie! And if you don’t have great hands like Blaze, then playing Box will only make you better. Another perfect example of transitioning into Box Lacrosse is Liam Byrnes, a defensive mastermind.
Liam Byrnes: Downsizing the Big Man
If you’ve watched Marquette play in the past few years, your eye was probably on the long-haired LSM that was a ground ball vacuum. Liam Byrnes racked up awards and impressive stats every year at Marquette. He even became a Captain and the Big East Defensive Player of the year in his senior year. Obviously, an accomplished defensive player that was no stranger to moving the ball upfield, Liam recently tried his hand at Box Lacrosse. Claiming that he hasn’t played with a short stick since the 6th grade, he figured he had nothing to lose!
Luckily for Liam, he is playing great and made the Georgia Swarm where he will play alongside who you might ask? Oh yeah, Lyle Thompson. Also a member of the Florida Launch with Thompson, Brynes will play Transition for the Swarm and should fit in nicely with his ability to get the ball off the carpet and his solid footwork. More players need to realize that they have opportunity and value outside of their normal role in Field Lacrosse. All it takes is a chance to play and you could be doubling your game-time while also becoming a better overall Lacrosse Player.
Dillon Ward: It’s Not About The Size of The Goal
Many players find it hard to change position, which is ok, but sometimes it is even harder to stay the same. Dillon Ward is arguably one of the best goalies in Canda, Box or Field. Ward manages to have success in both even though the stance for Field vs Box is very different. The mechanics and movements used to make saves differ greatly. Since a Box goal is much shorter than a Field goal the goalie must be lower and wider. Using the skill he learned in Box to make his body bigger with a wide stance helps Dylan be a better Field Goalie. His slender and tall frame don’t take up a ton of the goal, but his stance helps with that.
When he is playing Box Lacrosse, Dylan has many extra pads that allow him to occupy more space in the goal, but he must also make his body bigger by working the posts, angles, and using a wide stance to compensate. Applying this technique to Field Lacrosse that has a much bigger goal allows Ward to make extra saves with his body that he isn’t quick enough to react to with his stick. Ward makes saves on shots he doesn’t even see by being in the best position with his stance that also is great for close up shots that he must attack.
Grow Yourself and Grow the Game
Lacrosse is a game where every player is a part of the offense and defense. Goalies direct clears and Attackmen start the ride. Players need to recognize that experimenting with their game will make you a better player. A smarter player. A more developed player. Try out a different position, or try box even; if just for a day and I guarantee you will not regret it. Lacrosse is about a connection with the game. There’s no better way to do that than by playing the game every way you can, any time you can.