A collection of notes from the winter.
We participated in two tournaments this winter in Philadelphia against well coached field/box club teams BBL, Team 91, Jr. Wings, and Ottawa Rebel Express. Thoughts from those experiences below.
Box lacrosse remains an incredibly humbling experience for offensive players coming from a field only background…especially at the younger levels when breakaways develop more frequently, kids are one on one with the goalie and getting stuffed more often than not. On more than one occasion, we had to talk to Team 91, at least last year, was rumored to use a zone defense in the second half with a lead. Can’t imagine any American team without legitimate box training could score.
Our best team consisted almost entirely of field attackmen and defensemen. Feel like that’s the approach moving forward unless you have middies who are willing and able to play defense, clear the ball and get off the floor. American middies are going to have a hard time having success scoring the ball in a box game. Spilt dodges down the alley don’t work in box unless the shooter is incredibly talented and the goalie is horrible.
Teams with a goalie with any degree of box playing experience had huge advantages. Fairly certain Team 91’s 7/8th grade goalie was from Canada.
Using the full shot clock on offense was a big key. It allowed us to sub personnel. Keep defensive players fresh and not get offensive players trapped. The 5/6th grade team learned this lesson the hard way the first game of the season when they tried to run up and down the floor against Ottawa Rebels Express.
Smarter teams knew to press out defensively when they recognized a opponent was on the wrong side of the floor, especially when cradling with one hand.
After allowing a goal, teams were allowed a free clear rather than going to a face off to keep the games moving. Teams were also rewarded with a free clear following a turnover. Some players would feign a ride and then jump you as soon as you crossed the midline to force an over and back/half court violation.
There’s a big difference between playing in an organized box lacrosse tournament against club teams that have practiced in box concepts and playing in a box league featuring players and coaches with no understanding box lacrosse. The former is going to make you a better field player. The latter is essentially a cardio workout and probably gives parents of young players a serious misconception on the supposed benefits of box lacrosse.
A 5th grader came off after a shift and said, “This is more fun than outdoors.” And, we were losing at the time. Almost feel bad for exposing 5/6th graders to serious box lacrosse now that they’ve returned to 110 yard grass fields.
Kids on the 5/6th grade team probably took more shots over the course of three games than they will all spring season. Youth field leagues really need to reevaluate field dimensions.
Only frustration point was the inconsistency on the moving pick call. Just depended on the ref crew.
We played Team 91 in the last pool play game before the playoffs. They were winning by a lot in the 4th quarter. They would keep one player back on defense and play 4v5. We can only assume this was to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Two or three years ago, we considered box lacrosse to be a trend. This winter was a reminder that we need to get more Pittsburgh kids real box training.