1. Relying on One Hand
Midfielders, as dodgers and creators, have to be more versatile and flexible in their games. They have to be able to attack from multiple angles and multiple positions. It’s too easy to force a dodging midfielder away from his strength and limit him. Learning how to use your weak hand stinks. No one wants to be the guy in practice who drops the ball in line drills, who keeps on screwing up the drill because he can’t scratch his head left-handed. I have two answers to this. Or one answer and one question. The answer: if you don’t like being that guy who keeps screwing up in practice, work on your left hand in your own time. Hit the wall. Shoot a hundred shots left. Remember, it’s what you do in the dark that actually matters. The question I have is this: if you’re not going to screw-up in practice where else are you going to screw up? Game. Not if I’m your coach. Games have to be about execution. Practice has to be about development and learning. And lastly, developing a left hand is like tearing off a Band-Aid. It hurts at first, but the pain is brief. You put the time in, the results will come and they will come quickly. Trust me. I’ve been there.
2. Undervaluing the Importance of Fitness
The easiest thing an athlete can do is be in shape. There are too many aspects of sports that are beyond your control: refs, weather, your opponents, the crowds, the field conditions... The one thing that a player always has control over is his physical preparedness. I get it. It’s hard. Running. Lifting weights. These things aren’t always fun. But it’s a whole heck of a lot easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape. The efforts required to maintain a level of physical preparedness are less than the efforts to lose a spare tire or rediscover your endurance. If you’re a midfielder in a lacrosse game and you’re tired or you’re wearing down, you’re not just becoming tired or slow. You are becoming beatable. Make fitness and conditioning a habit. Check that box daily.
3. Avoiding the Sidearm Shot
Shooting on the run is the hardest skill for a middie to master, but one of the few, that when done well, can elevate them beyond their peers and opponents. One of the primary reasons shooting on the run is so difficult is because your body is doing two completely different, and oddly competing tasks, simultaneously. When a middie shoots on the run, he generates power by coiling his upper body and snapping it against the fulcrum of his stride. I know, crazy, physics discussion there, but that’s basically what’s happening. The more I can coil my upper body—turning my shoulders away from my target and rotating my upper body to create snap—the harder I will shoot. The conundrum here: it’s hard to control all that power. Many make the mistake of shying away from shooting side arm, but it is a skill that I encourage all players to develop. Let’s recognize how difficult this skill is, and maybe try and eliminate some of that difficulty by playing the odds—by using the ground, by giving ourselves more target to shoot at, and more room to miss without really missing.
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