It Begins and Ends With Fundamentals.
Here’s a quick observation after watching a great summer of lacrosse: the game as a whole begins and ends with basic lacrosse fundamentals. From youth league up through the MLL, fundamental lacrosse skills are the underlying factor that separates the best players from the rest of the pack.
After watching several youth tournaments this past summer, the teams that continued to show up in the winner’s brackets were the ones that could catch, throw and shoot overhand consistently. At the youth level, having strong fundamentals seems like a pretty obvious way to succeed, and it is. Learning the fundamentals is stressed and the players and teams that master the basic skills rise to the top.
Now, let’s jump up to the MLL. Are fundamental lacrosse skills still important once the players have mastered the game and can execute high level skills that are considered above and beyond any fundamental skill that would be taught to youth? Again, the answer is yes. The behind-the-backs, sidearm passes, underhand shots and one handed checks are fun to watch and have made the game incredibly exciting, but when it comes down to crunch time even the best players in the world have to fall back on their most basic lacrosse fundamentals. Case in point – the winning goal scored by Eric Law in the MLL Championship game. Here is the sequence leading to the goal…a midfielder brings the ball down the middle of the field, keeping his head up and seeing everything in front of him. Attackman Eric Law, standing just below GLE recognizes he has space to cut. He raises his stick to provide a target to the ball carrier and moves to the ball to receive the feed. Upon receiving the feed, he steps to the middle of the field and shoots an overhand shot around his defender and scores (watch the goal here). Of course this was an exciting goal, but it was nothing more than a string of the most basic fundamental skills put together by a great player. A feeder with his head up to see the entire field, the cutter giving a target to throw to, moving to the ball, shooting overhand and finishing to the center of the field. You can’t teach it any better than that!
This is a great lesson for all of us coaches that no matter how much the game is evolving or changing, we still need to focus on the most basic lacrosse fundamentals. We can’t leave them behind to jump to the newest “skill” that is trending, because at the end of the day it is the fundamentals that will be called upon to succeed.