As a coach or player, you know what you’re up against every day. There are lions, tigers and bears out to get you, but you’ve got the experience and the weapons to deal with them. What happens though when a monster from the past appears? What happens when you’ve prepared to fight tigers, but you step out on the field and the other team puts out a pack of velociraptors? Coach Holly and I are here to introduce a series of offensive maneuvers from 30 years ago adjusted to fit today’s game. We call them Velociraptors. As ART goes, they’re a doozy and each should result in at least one easy goal a game.
Why are these maneuvers used less frequently? The main reason is the growth in the game. There are so many new coaches and players that many old but effective techniques were never passed on from generation to generation. The next is many of the players from years ago didn’t know they were using a formal maneuver. They just played and figured this stuff out by trial and error. I realized this when I saw an old friend last year. He was an All-America Attack who married an All-America Middie. They are high school sweethearts and a lacrosse couple. I asked him about a couple things he did systematically when we played together in high school. Amazing that he couldn’t remember a single move. He just played he said and didn’t give any thought to what he was doing. The last reason knowledge has been lost is the same reason why kids are playing sports less each year. As youth games become more high stakes, the lazy kids, the slow kids, the late bloomers, the kids who care more about spending time with their friends, winning first chair in the orchestra or editing the school newspaper than doing wallball, all end up quitting lacrosse.
Losing these kids has been a big problem because they were the ones on the high school team that figured out how to score easy goals. They didn’t always have speed, or work ethic, or the passion for the game, so they were forced to do more with less. They were forced to be creative and more often than not, that led to insight or what Coach Holly calls ART. Then the committed players on the team copied them.
Our first Velociraptor is purposely doing something unexpected! That sounds like common sense, but it’s surprising when you watch a lacrosse game today how predictable some attacks have become. Back in the day, teams and players strategically set things up. If you wanted to score going right, then you’d go left three times in a row. When your defender was finally sure you’re always going to go left, then you go right. Here’s how it works:
I go left. My defender covers me left.
I go left again. My defender covers me left again.
I go left yet again. My defender knows now I’m always going left.
I fake left, go right. My defender just got beat.
Certainly, setting up your player early for an easy goal later in the game is a great idea. The game has changed so much that there are certain situations that have become dull routine when they shouldn’t be. As a player or coach, try doing something unexpected in those dull, routine situations to score an easy goal.
I. The First Dull Routine is a Seal/Pick off an Alley Dodge (dodge down the elbow). Each team often runs a dozen Righty Alley Dodges a game. The Offense, the Defense, the Fans, all know exactly what’s going to happen.
Pass. Player O1 passes to the Alley Dodger O2.
Cut. Player O1 cuts through to create space for the Alley Dodger.
Dodge. Alley Dodger dodges down the Alley.
Back in the day, any time a team ran something the same way that many times, you were always looking for the counter move later in the game. Today, that counter move doesn’t always happen.
Everyone in the stadium under the lights today is focused on the Alley Dodger. Everyone knows that the Alley Dodger will always Dodge first and only if she draws a double will she pass. Let’s do something unexpected. Here’s the new sequence of events.
Pass. Player 1 (O1) passes to the Alley Dodger (O2).
Cut & Seal/Pick. Player 1 cuts through slowly. It must be slowly, so that her defender stays close to her. Then Player 1 makes an off-ball pick, called a Seal.
Cut. The off-ball player (O3) cuts hard.
Don’t Dodge, Pass. Alley Dodger fakes the dodge and passes instead to the cutter.
Shoot. Cutter catches the ball and shoots.
Diagram of Steps 1-2
Diagram of Steps 3-5
There’s no risk to running this a couple times a game. If you get an easy shot or goal this way, then it suddenly slows down the help slides when your Alley Dodger does dodge because the off-ball defenders are focused on the Seal/Pick and Cut. It will work at all levels of the game from Recreational Youth to Elite High School Teams. Try it even more at the club level where defenses there practice less together and can be taken advantage of!
II. The second dull routine is Roll Dodge When Marked Topside from the Defender. You’ll see this situation happen many times a game, where a player has started behind the net or near GLE and is trying to get Topside (over-the-top dodge) in order to throw a pass to the right side of the field.
Here’s how it looks.
You’ll often see the Defender cause a turnover or force a bad pass. Horrible to let that Defender get rewarded for playing such fundamentally unsound Defense. Here’s how you beat it.
Roll dodge. Roll dodge without changing hands.
Get position on your Defender.
Go to goal.
This technique works extremely well at all Youth levels & JV High School where you’ll often see it happen 10x in a game. Once you know it’s happening, you’ll often see the Defender be so far out of position, that you’ll wonder why you never Roll Dodged here before.
It happens less often in Elite High School (maybe 2-3x a game) and will often be masked better (harder to see).
At youth, you’ll probably get enough space to shoot normally.
At JV High School and above, where girls are more athletic, you’ll have to learn to shoot without bringing your stick back behind your body. It’s an all arms (lever action) and wrist shot (snap) where the stick stays between your two shoulders. It’s a basic shot and one that should be in every player’s arsenal. Coach Holly can teach you. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see the video on Youtube that teaches this.
II. The third dull routine is the Inside Crease Roll. Everyone tries to execute the Crease Roll as quickly as possible. Here’s how it looks.
If you beat your defender on a Fast Crease Roll, that’s great. The next time you know she’s going to be racing to cut off your angle. That’s the perfect time to set her up to Go Inside rather than Topside.
Coach Holly can teach you how these Inside Moves (Face Dodge and Roll Dodge without changing hands) at GLE work. Again you’ll also need to shoot with the stick between your shoulders, all arms (lever action) and wrists (snap).
So, if you beat your defender inside, what’s your defender going to expect the next time? Hmmm… If you use Reverse Psychology, what happens if you use Reverse, Reverse Psychology after that?
You get what I’m saying. Talk to Coach Holly about using Hesitation, Stutter Step, Rocker Dodge, Double Roll Dodge to really confuse a Defender here. The beauty is you don’t need to be fast or athletic to be successful here, just unexpected.
Let’s play the game!
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Lacrosse dad, enthusiast, player, and writer!
Hyonmyong (Hoch) Cho grew up in inner city Chicago playing pickup basketball, back alley football and stickball. He learned lacrosse at the Groton School where he started for four years as a leftie defenseman for Coach Tom Degray. He was also a three-year varsity player on the football team as a running back and outside linebacker for Coach Jake Congleton. They were both legendary coaches and leaders who won championships despite being at small schools by teaching ART. Hoch attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where he was a Morehead Scholar. He most recently coached both boys and girls youth lacrosse teams at The Waterford School in Utah.