These are basketball drills, but are very applicable for lacrosse!
Monday, September 26, 2016
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Posted by Peter Carey at 8:32 PM
Monday, September 19, 2016
Boyle Point: Stringing and Strategy
Why romantics might not appreciate the beauty in these classical pursuits
If you could become an expert in only one of the following, which would it be: String a stick or diagram X's and O's?
Before answering, identify how you approach the game. Only those utilizing a classical methodology can master these crafts.
In "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," Robert M. Perisig explores the concepts of classical and romantic understanding as they apply to a cross-country trip on a motorcycle.
"A classical understanding sees the world primarily as underlying form itself. A romantic understanding sees it primarily in term of immediate appearance," Perisig explains. "If you were to show an engine or a mechanical drawing or electronic schematic to a romantic, it is unlikely he would see much of interest in it. It has no appeal because the reality he sees is its surface. Dull, complex lists of names, lines and numbers. Nothing interesting. But if you were to show the same blueprint or schematic or give the same description to a classical person, he might look at it and then become fascinated by it because he sees that within the lines and shapes and symbols is a tremendous richness of underlying form."
This passage struck a nerve with me. How much do I really know about lacrosse, a sport that I have tried to master for nearly 30 years?
Two critical aspects of the game come to mind when analyzing the classical vs. romantic dynamic: stringing a stick and creating two-dimensional strategies via X's and O's.
Through a romantic lens, neither is quite as it seems. Superficially, all sticks are the same — a plastic head frame, netting that holds the ball, a series of strings that attach the netting to head, and horizontal strings that affect the ball as it releases near the top of the plastic. Romantics would celebrate the artistic creativity behind the heads — the different color strings, inventive dye jobs and the use of leather in traditionally strung sticks.
Ryan Boyle is the co-founder and CEO of Trilogy Lacrosse. He was a four-time All-American attackman at Princeton, a five-time MLL all-star with the Philadelphia Barrage and Boston Cannons and a three-time member of Team USA.
With strategic diagrams, romantics would see a bunch of X's and O's with various straight and dotted lines. This aspect of the game would seem like a waste of time. "Players win games. Give the ball to your best player and everything will be fine."
Their favorite part would surely be coming up with fun and inventive names to inspire their players or serve as pneumonic devices. For example, at Princeton, all plays initiated from the wing were named after birds — Pelican and the like — while 1-4-1 sequences were natural disasters — Thunder, Lightning and Hurricane. Romanics would eat that up.
As a player, learning how to string a stick represents one of the most fundamental skills within the sport. It represents the opportunity to match your skill set and preferred style of play directly to the instrument responsible for performance. This skill enables you to optimize your functional play and control your execution. Understanding the variables also allows you to adjust your stick based on weather and wear-and-tear.
Parents, especially ones new to the sport, often are flummoxed by the nuances involved in a stick's functionality. At clinics, I frequently notice a player struggling with the basic fundamentals of catching and throwing. Often times, the difficulty does not arise from a breakdown in technique. Rather, the beginning player is using a poorly strung stick. A guitar out of tune will not play in key regardless of the musician's talent. Not even Gary Gait would be able to perform with some of these atrocities. If a parent learns how to string a stick, a la Wells Stanwick, they can ensure the opportunity for proper development for his or her son or daughter.
Lastly, coaches could match their players' sticks to a desired style of play. For years, coach Bill Tierney has preached having a stick that enables for crisp, consistent, accurate passes. This year's Denver team seems to be the incarnation of that philosophy. No team in the country whips the ball around quite like the Pioneers. Coupled with offensive coordinator Matt Brown's creative and multiple-option offense, the reigning NCAA champions possess an ultra-efficient offense that has them back in the hunt for another title.
Would Denver be in contention without the strategic wizardry of Brown, who melds box and field concepts, incorporates freshmen with upperclassmen, and matches plays to his personnel?
Doubtful, which makes one question how the balance tilts in this hypothetical situation. The ability to diagram schemes and translate them from a two-dimensional surface to the playing field separates neophytes and experts within any sport, including lacrosse.
Denver assistant coach Matt Brown runs a creative and multiple-option offense with the Pioneers. (Trevor Brown)
Football has seen multiple revolutionaries forever alter their game by questioning the status quo and making strategic adjustments. Bill Walsh invented the West Coast offense, which viewed short, reliable passes as an extension of the running game with a bigger potential for explosive gains. Buddy Ryan and the 46 Defense flipped the mathematical advantage to the defense by outnumbering the offense in key positions. In doing so, they applied pressure on the quarterback before he could practically exploit other areas of weakness.
Before he retired, Dave Cottle's offenses often would baffle the opposition regardless of situation — transition, settled half-field six-on-six, or extra man. Cottle put maximum pressure on the opposition through proper spacing, timely cuts and multiple options. His sets and plays challenged the foundation of the defense.If a team followed its defensive rules, then his offense would put them in severe trouble. React and change strategy, now you're not playing to your strengths and he has a counter prepared as well.
For the greater part of two decades, there might not have been an offensive coordinator whose strategies were as widely copied across the country. Cottle was at the forefront of multiple offensive advances, including inverts, the high 1-4-1, big-little picks and off-ball seals via stack sets.
Anyone can draw up plays in a vacuum. The hallmark of a great coach who truly understands his players resides in his ability to match schemes to the strengths of his roster. This concept — KYP, or Know Your Personnel — goes beyond static X's and O's by visualizing specific players in place of these theoretical letters. While North Carolina offensive coordinator David Metzbower typically starts each season with the same base sets, his schemes evolve as players' performance emerges so he can highlight their strengths and the unique chemistry between units. This approach presents challenges for opposing defenses preparing for an offense that is in itself a moving target. Additionally, it keeps things fresh for the Tar Heel players, so they aren't running the same thing over and over ad nausea.
So which one is it going to be: String a stick or diagram X's and O's? Fear not, String League Competition. My = X + O.
Posted by Peter Carey at 6:15 PM