Advanced Lacrosse Tips for Attack
Attack is a position that requires quite a bit of practice to master. Once all the necessary skills are in place, though, the glory can come quickly. Pretty feeds in traffic, smooth dodges that leave defenders with their shorts on the ground, and precisely placed shots that make the goalie scream all will earn you tons of credibility on the field and in the locker room. Follow the advice below and you’ll be ballin’ in no time. Here are some great tips to master the position of attack:
Attackmen are expected to have the best stick skills on the team. The ability to play with your off-hand is very important. When a defender recognizes that you’re going to the left every time, he will force you to go right, where he can prey on an exposed stick and weak ball-handling skills.
Work hard to get the off-hand to the same level as the strong hand. Lacrosse is one of the only sports where players must have the ability to play with the non-dominant hand to be an effective player. Work on everything. Get the shooting, passing, and scooping up to speed, and it will make you twice the player you were before.
A quick way to improve your skills with your off-hand is to practice exclusively with that hand one day per week during the season. Do everything possible with that hand; practice shooting, feeding, dodging, and picking up ground balls. And during the off-season, make it a point to hit the wall as much as possible. Dedicate as much or more time to your off-hand as to the strong one.
Simpler is Better
Some players watch highlights of the pros all day and think that they have to play a super-fancy style to be a great player. Behind-the-back shots, bounce passes, ice pick checks and one-handed ground-ball pickups all look sweet when a professional pulls them off. The same can’t always be said when a high school player attempts those maneuvers in a game and gets chewed out by the coach.
When finishing around the cage, simpler is better. There’s no need to go faking three or four times. One fake and a shot to the opposite part of the cage should be enough movement to deceive the goalie.
Mike Leveille won the NCAA’s Tewaraaton Trophy in 2008 after leading his Syracuse team to the National Championship. Leveille is all bite and no bark. His consistency as both a goal scorer and feeder are what made him an elite collegiate player and one of the top picks in the 2008 MLL Draft. Leveille beat out the likes of the flashier Paul Rabil and Matt Danowski for the award in 2008, proving that a playing style of mostly substance and not much flare can take someone a long way.
The same should apply to dodges. When dodging from behind or on the wing, it should be one move and go! Use your dodge to create space to get your hands free and either pass or shoot. Doing more than one dodge really only gives the defender a chance to recover from the first one. Unless you’ve been taught how to use one move to immediately set up another, your best bet is to use one dodge and then make your move toward the cage.
Practice a Go-To Move
Everybody needs a bread-and-butter move. Have at least one move that you can go to in a tight spot when the coach or situation calls on you to make a big play for your team. Analyze your biggest strengths as an attackman and decide which dodge or move suits you best.
If you’re a speed guy, then a good split dodge should work well for you.
Here’s how to pull off a split dodge: Driving from X, take a hard run at your defender, engage his hips, and quickly change direction to move out into space where you can push to the cage or feed a cutting teammate.
Big, strong attackmen should have a couple of go-to moves at their disposal. First and foremost is the question-mark dodge.
Here’s how to pull off the question-mark dodge: Using strength and power to get to the five-and-five spot, quickly plant the outside foot and simultaneously roll to the outside. You should also be rising upward and turning toward the goal on the planted foot. This allows for vision of the cage over or around the defender; and assuming the move is executed quickly enough, it frees up the hands for a hard and accurate shot from five to seven yards out.
Accuracy > Power
Playing attack, there are not many opportunities for longer distance time and room shots. Since most attackmen handle the ball around goal-line extended or behind the cage, most of the shots they take will be from in close and sometimes at odd angles. This places a premium on being able to finish with accuracy around the goal.
Many attackmen who have yet to master the position will catch a feed five yards out from the goal and just wind up and rip as hard as they can. Missing the cage from that close is embarrassing, and you don’t want to be that guy. It is very hard for a goalie to find the ball coming out of the stick from so close to the goal, so concentrate on being accurate with shots from close range. Don’t drop the stick down lower than necessary just to alter a shooting angle. Finish from the box area over the shoulder, and the shot will likely find the spot in the cage where it was intended to go. The lower the shooting angle of the stick, the less accurate the shot will be.
Practice Really Does Make Perfect
With a good idea of how to step your game up to a higher level, your performances should get better each time out. Don’t slack on the practice field and get out and hone the skills necessary to be a go-to-guy on your team. Remember, the best players practice obsessively, and if you want to get to that level you better be prepared to do the same. Put in the work, and the results will come.