Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) Expanding Following Successful Inaugural Season

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Premier Lacrosse League Expands For Season 2

Paul Rabil’s professional lacrosse league, the Premier Lacrosse League, aka, PLL, enjoyed a great deal success in its first year. The league brought unprecedented exposure to lacrosse with its tour based model, able to hit 14 markets with its 6 teams, as opposed to being only able to hit 6 markets with a city based team model – arguably the biggest obstacle in having made the longer standing Major League Lacrosse (MLL) fully take off. In an era where young lacrosse fans are more attached to particular professional lacrosse players rather than an actual team, the tour based model seems to fit with the modern lacrosse fan and the PLL will be expanding into a 7th team for its second season on the heals of its success.

The PLL succeeded in not only filling venues more effectively than any previous professional lacrosse league, it also gained invaluable and unprecedented television exposure. 3 PLL games were broadcast on NBC, 16 were broadcast on NBCSN and every game was available to stream on NBC Sports Gold.

To fill roster slots for the as yet to be named 7th PLL team, the league will be holding an expansion draft in February 2020. Up next for Rabil and the league will be, per SportsBusiness.com, to try selecting smaller venues for the tour dates. Although fan attendance was larger than any previous professional lacrosse leagues, they still fell well short of capacity playing in venues generally designed for much larger Major League Soccer game attendance numbers. Showing a large number of empty seats makes for a bad visual on TV and takes away from fan energy when a hosting venue is largely empty.

As reported by Sport Illustrated, Rabil is also targeting more evening game slots on NBC networks to increase viewership, fully integrated partnerships with youth lacrosse tournaments and leagues to drive attendance, along with a change in ticketing strategy.


Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton, aka, Dr. Lax, was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail of Love, president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.


Virginia Uses Grit To Bring Home A Lacrosse National Championship

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Virginia Wins College Lacrosse National Championship

On paper, it was hard to envision Virginia being able to contain Yale’s fire power, the defending champions that averaged 15 goals per game for the entire post season. Even with veritable stars in their own right with the likes of attackman Matt Moore, Dave Smith, Matt Kraus and midfielder Ryan Conrad, Virginia had their work cut out for them in slowing the offensive juggernaut that is the Yale Bulldogs.

So how did Virginia not only slow Yale’s high tempo, high powered offensive attack, but stymie it? By turning the National Championship game into slug fest that they clearly were on the winning side of.

Right out of the gate, Virginia played aggressive defense, double teaming the ball at every opportunity, swarming ground balls, and delivering big hits; meanwhile managing to bring their hard nosed style of lacrosse yet staying out of the penalty box.

The result was Yale being taken out of their rhythm, often off balanced, and losing possessions. It also did not hurt that Alex Rode played outstanding in the goal, earning the most valuable player honors.

Even when Yale seemed to return to the form we have been accustomed to when they closed the gap to 6-4 right out of the opening of the second half, Virginia stayed the course in unwavering fashion and just kept playing their game. Virginia reminded us today that as much as lacrosse has changed with the rules scaling back some of the brutality of the game for safety’s sake, there is still plenty of room for playing tough, aggressively and physically dominating the other team from ground balls, to defensive traps and aggressive rides.

Make no mistake, Matt Moore, Matt Kraus, Ryan Conrad and company displayed some incredible feats of lacrosse skill to bring to Yale today. But in the end, it was the focus on the basic fundamentals of boxing out, scrapping for ground balls, playing great individual and team defense, and being physical that won the day today.


Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM andDr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.


An Easy And Fun Way To Grow Lacrosse

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6U Coed Soft Lacrosse

We have three major barriers to parents being willing to give lacrosse a chance. In emerging lacrosse markets, first and foremost, it is many viewing the sport of lacrosse as some weird activity that does not qualify as real sport in comparison to the more traditional sports (soccer, basketball, football, baseball). Second and third barriers are combined in that they are related: the cost of equipment (especially for boys) for young children who may lose interest in the sport at some point and losing young children to other traditional sports at young ages due to far less investment in gear being necessary. Buying a set of chin guards for a child to play soccer, for example, is far less of a financial commitment than $270 in gear plus US Lacrosse membership and league registration fees.

In order to address these barriers to entry, the Brevard Lacrosse Alliance, the club I have presided over for 10 years, has adopted a 6U coed soft lacrosse division. The club made the initial investment in beginner boys sticks, protective goggles that are worn in the girls game, and soft lacrosse balls that are weighted to be similar to standard lacrosse balls to facilitate easier weighted ball handling without the sting of a standard ball should one get hit with one. The sticks have standard heads and are cut down to 30 inches. Thus, all the parents are on the hook for is US Lacrosse and league registration fees and a protective mouthpiece. The kids play on a modified 55 x 30 yard field with 4 x 4 goals with targets.

In our first experiment with this in this year’s spring season, we have 12 boys and girls registered all aged 4 and 5 years. The kids are having a blast learning the game and the parents are really enjoying it as well. What’s more, getting the parents out on the field to see what lacrosse looks like with the more experienced older divisions playing on adjacent fields give them a glimpse of how their little ones will be playing the game one day if they stick with it. Most are impressed with the speed, athleticism, and aesthetics of the game.

For those moving up to the 8U division next season when the kids are split by gender and full gear will be required, having had the 6U soft lacrosse experience will (at least we hope) make the investment in gear a bit more palatable with the sport no longer being so foreign to the parents and their children already enjoying it.

From my beginnings as a coach and eventually a youth lacrosse club president, I have always maintained that the sport of lacrosse sells itself as long as we can get parents and kids exposure to it. Having a 6U coed soft lacrosse division enables getting parents and kids in front of the sport at very young ages, setting the foundation for bottom up growth, the very best model to grow any youth sport.


Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM andDr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.


Is The Premier Lacrosse League The Future Of Pro Lacrosse?

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Premier Lacrosse League

At the time of the inception of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) set for its inaugural season in summer 2019, there already were two professional lacrosse leagues: the Canadian based indoor box National Lacrosse League (NLL) and the U.S. based field Major League Lacrosse (MLL). Although there was some overlap of the MLL and NLL seasons, for the most part they were different times of the year (MLL summer and NLL winter) and the leagues did not compete while offering vastly different lacrosse products. Several professional lacrosse players, including the PLL founder and lacrosse super star Paul Rabil, even played in both leagues concurrnetly.

With the creation of the new tour style PLL, however, the question remains, will Paul Rabil and his new league take pro lacrosse to another level or will it simply serve to further water down a still relatively small and already split sport fan base? No one can really predict the outcome for certain but most agree that something needed to change and MLL’s biggest star was no longer willing to sit back and wait for that much needed change.

Paul Rabil is one of the few lacrosse players that managed to make a very successful living from professional lacrosse. He accomplished this by teaming up with brother Mike Rabil and essentially creating a media company that promoted his brand through video, podcast, and social media, and building a fan base that helped him rake in endorsements. Beyond his exceptional talent, Rabil created a marketable and recognizable brand that made him the name and face of lacrosse to make him the sport’s first million dollar man.

For most others, with MLL season salaries averaging $8000 per year, the vast majority of players need to hold full time jobs which essentially makes playing pro lacrosse little more than a hobby for the most talented lacrosse athletes in the world. The end result is that the league stays very young with most players bowing out while still in their 20’s to focus on careers that they can make a living conducive to marriage and having a family.

Beyond the experience of the players, however, the lack of growth and success of the MLL has stagnated and is even showing signs of contracting. Rabil noted that even as he was earning a pair of MVP awards and two titles as a pro, still “the peak of stardom remains the Final Four,” the Men’s Division I NCAA championship that draws tens of thousands of fans over Memorial Day weekend. Rabil’s Johns Hopkins teammate and pro lacrosse star in his own right, Kyle Harrison said, “I won a national title in front of 50,000 people at Lincoln Financial Field [in Philadelphia]. The next week I’m playing on a back field at Rutgers in front of 400.”

Last season average attendance in the nine-team MLL was 3,619, the lowest it has been since 2003. On top of that, players’ travel and accommodations are considered by many players to be sub-par for a league that has been in existence since 2002. My good friend Brian Megill, a former star and 3 year veteran of the MLL, took an offered opportunity to play for the New England Blackwolves in the NLL. While the base pay was not much better, Brian shared with me that at least the NLL (or at least this particular franchise) treated its players like professional athletes. Brian told me at the time that the contrasting experience was part of his calculation when he decided not to return to the MLL for a fourth season.

After 11 seasons in MLL, during which he became the all-time scoring leader, Rabil decided he’d had enough and announced the formation of his own pro lacrosse circuit: the Premier Lacrosse League, set to begin play June 1, 2019. The PLL will offer geographic fluidity, consisting of six teams with rosters of 28 players each; but no team will claim a city as its home.

Instead, 14 summer weekends (which will include an All-Star Game and a championship), the whole league will play tour style with play dates in 12 major cities, playing in two of them twice.). The league will coordinate travel, housing and practice sites such that teammates will not need to live in or near the same city.

The tour-based model also intends to address the biggest challenge faced by any startup league: venues. The MLL is forced to design its schedule around the availability of stadiums of severely contrasting capacities. For example, the Denver Outlaws usually fill about one-tenth of the 76,125 seats at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, while the Florida Launch drew an average crowd size of 2298 in the 38,000 seat Florida Atlantic University stadium. The PLL, on the other hand, will have the ability to rent more appropriately sized stadiums one weekend at a time, focusing all its resources on building a festival-like atmosphere around the three games it will play there.

The PLL also promises to reach more viewers by having signed a deal with NBC which will broadcast 17 games on NBC Sports Network, stream 20 on NBC Sports Gold service and air two on its main network . By contrast, the only ability for fans to watch MLL games is by stream through the Lax Sports Network, a service only lacrosse fans are going to have. By branching into a major network, the PLL hopes to reach new fans to grow the sport further into the mainstream.

Whether or not the Premier Lacrosse League is the answer to overcoming the professional lacrosse plateau that the current leagues have not, there is already a buzz and excitement about the league in the lacrosse community. With Rabil and his star power and marketing prowess having been one of the drivers behind growing the MLL to where it is today, given his past success, one has to be hopeful that this will be his next crowning achievement that all lacrosse enthusiasts may benefit from.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM andDr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Lacrosse Culture – Profiles In Entrepreneurship: Brian Megill

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Lacrosse is unique as a sport in that it attracts not just the desire to be great in sport, but high academic and career achievement outside of sport.  This is one reason why high academic achievement and Ivy League colleges are commonly contenders for national championships…look no further than 2018 National Champions Yale University.

Creators Game celebrates this aspect of lacrosse and the entrepreneurial spirit the sport fosters among its participants with this series Lacrosse Culture – Profiles In Entrepreneurship.  Today we showcase Syracuse legend, MLL & NLL Pro, and Team USA member Brian Megill and his company Host Events Inc.

Brian Megill Lacrosse Legend and Entrepreneur

 

Host Events, Inc. Co-Founded by Syracuse Lacrosse grad Brian Megill and his business partner, Michelle Carazas in 2017, is a mobile platform connecting cities best bartenders with events looking for a bar presence. Whether a corporate function or home gathering, Host Events, Inc. can help elevate the occasion.  

On a weekly basis, people requested our services as a bartender for private events or special occasions with no formalized process or contract. We realized that many times people were desperate to find the perfect bartender to ensure the success of an event or even to ensure their establishments would realize their full economic potential on a Friday night.

After conducting significant research and surveys coupled with endless amounts of brainstorming between the founders, we began to realize that no current platform existed that connects those hosting parties with professional, reliable and certified bartenders/mixologists. As simple as Uber connects drivers with riders, Host connects bartenders with event hosts.

Market research analysis concludes that businesses of over 10 or more employees are offering more corporate appreciation events outside of the office to increase employee retainment. This, in turn, leads to a rise in event planning services. With businesses in the United States expected to grow in size by .8 percent over the next five years, these companies are going to be looking for larger venues and more amenities to accommodate the growth in the workforce. According to Bank of America’s 2015 Small Business Owner Report, 45 percent of small- to medium-size businesses sponsored a holiday dinner in 2015, up 2 percent from 2013. These numbers are projected to continue to increase steadily over the next five years. According to Issue-Based Information System, corporations are likely to allocate more money toward social events over the next five years.

Host Events, Inc. is a double-faced platform similar to Uber and Airbnb. One side is created for those hosting the event and the other is geared towards certified bartenders. Event hosts will be able to post their events well in advance through Host, denoting dates, times and locations. Once an event is posted, certified bartenders within a certain radius will receive the notification, allowing them to “apply” to the event. Event hosts will then be able to select their choice from the applicants based on qualifications and ratings.

Host Events Inc, launched in the IOS AppStore in Boston in May of 2018, through support from its recent six-figure backing from LaunchByte CEO Tan Kabra and his team at Boston based seed-funding firm, LaunchByte. The partnership has taken Host from pen and paper to the app store.

To learn more about Host Events, Inc., visit hello@hostdrinks.com or reach out directly to its founders at brian@hostdrinks.com.

 

The As Lacrosse Grows, Diversity Of Players Does Not

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Diversity Still Lacking In Lacrosse

Lacrosse continues to spread as America’s fastest growing sport, yet its participants remain primarily affluent white.  86% of college lacrosse players are white and when we narrow down our focus to Division I lacrosse, the number of white players increases to 98.1%.  Despite NFL Hall of Fame running back legend Jim Brown (an African American man) taking great pride in his legendary lacrosse career at Syracuse and remaining an active ambassador for the game, as well as lacrosse showcasing extremely talented and charismatic African American players like Chazz Woodson, Miles Jones, and  Tari Kandemiri; there remains a glaring lack of African American and other minority participation in the sport.  This is very odd in a sport whose origins trace back to the indigenous Native American people of North American continent.

Why is this the case?  From my own observation though the years dating back to when I played youth ball, I have learned that there are multiple reasons for lingering lack of diversity in the game of lacrosse.

Cost

This was more a factor in the 80’s and 90’s than it is today when one did not see as many African Americans living in affluent middle class and wealthy communities as we do now, as African Americans were beginning to transcend generations of oppression in the United States and increasingly join the ranks of middle class, upper middle class and wealthy suburbia.  In more urban and inner city communities where a higher percentage of African American people lived (and to a large degree still do today), schools simply would not or could not invest precious little financial resources into offering a sport that was so far outside of the main stream.  For those areas, that remains largely unchanged.

The cost of gear for families was and is a significant barrier to entry into the sport.  While most schools that have lacrosse provide equipment for the players during the spring season, in a sport where participation in club teams, camps, and prospect events, it really has become essential for players to have their own gear.

Still, in my generally affluent home town  of Viera, Florida where like other middle class communities communities across the nation there is a refreshing shift with increasing populations of African American families adding diversity to suburbia, money for these families is generally not a significant barrier to participation.  This bring me to my next point.

Culture

I recall when my friends and I were all falling in love with the sport of lacrosse as kids and much to the chagrin of our fathers we gave up baseball.  Having grown up idolizing the stars of the national past time in an area steeped in the tradition of the NY Yankees, NY Mets, and Brooklyn Dodgers, many of our dads were confounded that we would give up baseball for this weird sport called lacrosse.  Of course over time watching our games and experiencing the exhilaration of the fastest game on 2 feet we changed their hearts and minds, it did not happen over night.

Beyond being a sport that was foreign to our fathers, they also would say things like, “there’s no money in lacrosse,” suggesting that we were potentially throwing away a lucrative Major league Baseball contract one day by choosing lacrosse over baseball.  While a tiny select few reach the ranks of Division I college and professional in all sports, the vast majority athletes will not.  As such, becoming a professional athlete as primary motivation for participating in youth and high school sports is very misplaced motivation.  Try telling our fathers that in the mid 80’s.

When a small group of individuals started lacrosse here in 2008, we got the same push back from even white affluent parents, but again gradually won many of their hearts and minds as they accepted and later embraced the sport of lacrosse.  To this day, however,as our lacrosse club grows exponentially each year, African American participation remains sorely lacking despite us marketing to the same schools their children attend and holding free introductory clinics in the parks of the community they live in.

I got some insight as to why this is one year when my son played a season of tackle football and I befriended the many parents of my son’s African American teammates.  Naturally, I was recruiting for lacrosse while I was playing the rare role of sideline parent and in the course of several conversations I had, I learned that families simply retain a cultural hangover from a time in the not so far off past when because of lack of equal opportunity, sports were viewed by in large as a primary means to an education and even a path to wealth that becoming a professional athlete would bring.

A More Diverse Future In Lacrosse

Having seen the barriers that the sport of lacrosse has overcome in the years I have participated in the game, I hold great hope that we will at some point make inroads in drawing more minority participants.  With US Lacrosse initiatives including their First Stick program where they provide equipment grants to urban and less affluent suburban communities and the Urban Lacrosse Alliance that is dedicated to creating and sustaining urban youth lacrosse programs, slowly but surely we will see a day when lacrosse is a staple sport representing many classes ans cultures.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

The Art Of The Lacrosse Face Off – Is It The Most Important Position In Lacrosse?

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Greg Gurenlian - Arguably Best Lacrosse Face Off Of All time

The face off in lacrosse has evolved through the ages in terms of line up, speed of whistle, and distance of the head from the ball as two face off players line up to with the back side of the heads on either sides of the ball in a crouched position as they await a whistle to battle for possession of the ball.  Possession of the ball is very important in lacrosse, as Division I college teams score 41% of the time per possession, making the face off position extremely important; often the deciding factor in whether a team wins or loses.

Many face off guys are very good all around lacrosse players but often as they advance in the levels of lacrosse, they increasingly stand out as winning face offs being their best contribution to the team.  Duke head coach John Danowski once famously said [referring to the face off specialist] that in the game of lacrosse, “the worst lacrosse player on the field often determines the outcome of games.”  Hence the now common position known as the FOGO, an acronym for Face Off, Get Off.

What I have learned about face off dominance in my years of playing and as a coach is that even the best lacrosse players just simply cannot be trained to be great face off guys.  It really is a skill you either have to do not, nonetheless, if a player shows aptitude in face off, it is important to nurture that player and get him the best training he can attain to hone the skill.

Case in point, my strongest all around player in the 10U boys travel division I coached this past season is a boy named Jackson.  There is nothing this boy cannot do, often  netting us 9 points per game while playing incredible defense, with seemingly endless stamina as a midfielder.  Yet, as great as an athlete as Jackson is (perhaps the best I have seen in a player at this age), Jackson was not very strong as face off.

We had the good fortune to bring in Dylan Lowdermilk, 2 time All-American face off at FSU (4 year all district face off middie from one of our local high school teams and now graduated, face off coach for FSU) to work with our travel teams.  I asked Dylan during practice to take groups of 4 of my team during practice, work through face off technique, and determine who my best face off players were.

Interestingly, a boy named Tommy, the youngest boy on the team who had just started playing lacrosse this year but showed enough raw athletic ability that I believed he could be developed into a travel team lacrosse player, proved to be our top face off prospect. By our final tournament of the summer season, Tommy became our go to face off player and enjoyed incredible success despite being young player so new to the game.

So what it is about certain players that just have that gift for face off?  Bringing up Tommy is a perfect segue into the sport science of face off, since ESPN did an analysis on arguably the best face off specialist in college, Team USA, and professional lacrosse history: Greg Gurenlian.  Tommy’s parents enrolled him in a face off academy clinic with none other than Greg Gurenlian this summer.

Here is what ESPN sport science analysis discovered about Gurenlian that made him so dominant at face off.:

  • Reaction Time – Average reaction to the whistle is 150 milliseconds.  Gurenlian’s is 130 milliseconds, translating into a 13% advantage in reaction time than the average human.
  • Clamp – During his clamp, Gurenlian rotates his head by swinging his bottom left hand on the shaft at 770 degrees per second, beating his average opponent to the clamp by an average of 0.02 seconds (the same amount of time it takes a humming bird to flaps its wings).
  • Defensive Exit – Once securing the ball, Gurenlian rips the stick out at 14. miles per hour, then sweeping the ball with his head at 3 G’s of acceleration…this adds up to Gurenlian escaping the face off space in less than 0.43 seconds!

All told, Gurenlian gains full possession of the ball in 0.23 seconds, 7% faster than an NHL hockey face off.

Greg Gurenlian’s stats courtesy of ESPN Sport’s Science tell us a few things about what makes a great face off specialist:

1.) Reaction time.

2.) Fast, strong hands.

3.) Strong upper and lower body acceleration.

To be sure, many of these skills can be honed and improved but it seems a lot of being a great face off lacrosse player is God given.  It is incumbent upon us coaches to be able to recognize these face off beasts early and point them in the direction of the best face off instruction we can offer them.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

The Value Of Summer Lacrosse Camps

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Division I Stars Dylan Lowdermilk and Trip McGinty Lacrosse Pro Camp Assistants

Summer lacrosse camps for youth and high school athletes are not new.  In my youth and high school playing days spanning the mid 80’s – early 90’s growing up in northeast NJ, my friends and I had Rutgers summer camp.  Not only did we get great college level instruction, we stayed in dorms together, participated alongside rival lacrosse townships (making spring games even more fun with familiar face lined up against us), and participated with kids from Upstate and Long Island NY.  It was amazing!

These days, there are a lot more summer lacrosse camps!  I have started to lose count.  Not all camps are created equal, so be certain to do your research, ask questions, and try to speak with parents of children who have done a given camp before enrolling your child.

Our Space Coast Elite Lacrosse Club is very proud to have pulled off our 4th annual Pro Camp run by professional lacrosse players, Division I college assistants, and lacrosse specific strength and agility training experts.  Our newest addition to our camp this year, Florida Launch midfielder Duncan Clancy noted how unique our camp is with the depth of talent and diversity and shear numbers of kids (51 boys, 24 girls with divisions from 3rd to 12th grade).  With our area, Viera Florida, being a very fun place to visit (Kennedy Space Center is just a 15 minute drive north, Cocoa Beach is right over a causeway, and Disney theme parks only an hour drive west in Orlando), I would encourage out of state families to visit, have their kids participate in a top rate camp, and make a family vacation out of it.

Our course, we are not the only camp around, but I would caution that there are many that promise a lot but deliver little, more interested in taking your money than anything else.  Unfortunately, this includes some of the college sponsored lacrosse camps.

However, summer is unique opportunity for your lacrosse player to experience great coaches, different training techniques and philosophies, and network with kids from many different areas in summer camps.  They not only become better players, but realize that they have so much in common with kids that love lacrosse no matter where they come from.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Yale Men’s Lacrosse Rolls Past Albany For National Championship Bid Against Duke

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Yale Duke Lacrosse Finals

For 3 time National Champion Duke Men’s Lacrosse, the NCAA tournament finals on Memorial Day is a familiar place.  Yale  on the other hand has one only one to their credit if one counts  the pre-NCAA era where they shared a co-championship with Harvard in 1883.

Despite the weight of history that favors Duke, by all statistical evidence, these teams are deadlocked in almost every category of play.  In fact, Lacrosse Reference compiles statistical data that is used to predict game outcomes.  In a game where any team can beat any other team on any given day despite stats and what is on paper, more often than not, Lacrosse Reference is remarkably correct.

In the case of Duke vs Yale, Lacrosse Reference puts each team at the exact same statistical advantage at 1932.  That places this game a a 50-50 toss up for who may or may not take this game.

One statistic that is left out of the previous calculations are the respective team’s most prolific scorers:

Yale’s Ben Reeves: 61 goals / 50 assists 111 points

Duke’s Justin Guterding: 64 goals / 46 assists / 110 points

Again, even taking this into account, the teams are also deadlocked.

It truly is anyone’s guess who will take this game today.  One thing seems assured though, this game seems at the very least poised to be one for the ages.

Although I am a sucker for the underdog and am personally pulling for Yale (sorry Duke fans, but you have 3 under you belt), on the big stage, experience tends to win the day.  Duke head coach John Danowski has been there, done that.  He has the poise and experience to make adjustments on the fly in big game situations unmatched by most of his peers.  While my heart is with Yale, I predict that Danowski is the one factor that gives Duke the edge on this one.

Happy Memorial Day lax lovers!  You are in for a treat today!

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

The Benefit Of Adding “Free Play” Into Lacrosse Practices

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Adding free play to lacrosse practice plans is a great way to teach players to improvise and grow lacrosse IQ

As lacrosse coaches we want a high level of structure and consistency to our offensive and defensive schemes.  On the offensive side, we want each player knowing where to be in space as a teammate initiates a dodge, set the appropriate picks at the right spots on the field at the right time, make the appropriate cuts, etc.  On defense, we want good one on one technique with correct help defense ready for 2, 3, and (if we are very fortunate!) 4 slides; as well sticking with cutters.

On the other hand, as we drill down with repetition and verbal reinforcement of these concepts, we run the risk of creating quasi-robots that may end up lacking lacrosse IQ on their own without the structure of a scheme.  This may inhibit players to think for themselves and go off script to take advantage of mismatches and other opportunities; or fail to have success as structured schemes break down as the often inevitably do.

I coached one particular young player named Jared on my high school tournament team for the past 2 years, for example, that by in large stuck to the script of our offense that we call 34 motion.  The 34 motion’s basic structure has us constantly going in and out of 1-4-1 and 1-3-2 sets with dodges and off ball movement.  Jared has an uncanny ability to note when his defender is ball watching or otherwise disengaged with him and at the right time in the game and would back door cut with an open look to the goal.  He generally only does this when the ball is in possession with players he has extensive playing experience and chemistry with that know to watch for him to do this.  Jared also sets picks in situations that the offense generally does not call for under regular circumstances simply because he notices that a defender on one of his teammates it not even remotely looking for it.

I teach my players at all levels that although we have a fundamental structure, it is important to understand that they are not robots and are encouraged within reason to get creative and use their lacrosse IQ.  The concept of incorporating what some coaches refer to as free play facilitates this.  In addition to helping to build lacrosse IQ and encourage free thinking, free play also is a great deal of fun for young players who get bored with structured drills and set offenses and defensive schemes.

A basic free play model of half field has teams of 5 split evenly with an even number of D-poles on each team and the goalie playing for both teams.  D-poles play both offense and defense and the format is basically like half court basketball.  If the defensive team gets the ball back, they have to “check” the ball by clearing it to a point 5 yards north of the restraining box to then be able to go on offense.

While middies are accustomed to playing both offense and defense, most D-poles and attack are not, so free play enhances their game by letting them experience life on the other side to to speak.  Playing an opposing position in this manner enables players better understand and exploit its weaknesses.

During free play, coaches should not intervene and coach up the players at all other than call penalties, fouls, and out of bounds change of possession.  The rest should be up to the players to dodge, move, set picks, and cut all on their own.  The result almost instantly is that the players immediately start communicating with one another offensively and defensively, especially when their teammates are out of their depth playing an unfamiliar position.

Starting each practice with 5-10 minutes of free play invigorates the players with pick up style play, enhances their lacrosse IQ, and lets them cut loose and have some fun before getting down to business.  Beyond enhancing lacrosse IQ, free play also builds bonding as the players perform free of the constraints of coaches critique or judgement, relying solely on one another.

To be sure, coaches providing consistency and structure in a team’s game on both sides of the ball is very important.  Adding the element of free play in a practice offers them an added opportunity to improvise and create on their own while having a great time in the process.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.