Benefits of Box Lacrosse
In 2010, ten of the top thirty point scorers in Division I lacrosse were Canadian, yet less than 5% of the Division I population are Canadian. In Canada there are far fewer lacrosse players than in the US, yet their national team won the world championship in 2006 and again in 2014. The Canadian Girls U19 team just won the 2015 U19 World Championship! Americans play more lacrosse, spend more money on lacrosse, pay coaches more money, and yet the average Canadian player is far more skilled than the above average US player in goal scoring and playmaking. Further, the reigning Major League Lacrosse Defensive MVP is a Canadian who grew up playing lacrosse with a short stick in a hockey rink. How is this possible?
The environment of box lacrosse and the simple principles of the box lacrosse game are the ultimate teacher for the American player. What makes this opportunity unique is the focus on individual player development and high repetitions in practice settings that prepare players for competition.
Everyone knows that when space is reduced it speeds up the game and produces an environment where quicker decisions have to be made; ball handling skills are therefore amplified. Being in such an environment redefines being “open.” Box players get used to catching passes routinely that field players would be yelled at for throwing. The tight confines are less impacted by the size of the field and more impacted by the size of the goal. Small goals make all the action happen in tighter spaces.
Shooting accuracy and finishing ability are clearly a developmental advantage when learning how to finish on small (4x4) nets (McLean uses 5x5 nets). But this isn’t the most important piece. By far, the most important concept taught in the sport of box lacrosse, which is a byproduct of small nets, is always striving to take high percentage shots which is most often attained by positioning the stick to the inside of the field. In box lacrosse, if a right handed player drives down the right wing he will almost never score as his shooting angle (and passing angles) is reduced with every step. By positioning (looking at the goal) lefties on the right and righties on the left, players are able to attack from the wings to the middle both with the ball and while cutting.
Develop Scoring Skills
Another way to look at this is to develop midfielders and defensemen to play like attackmen who usually play on their natural side. Every day in practice the attack get repetitions dodging and cutting to the middle of the field, while the midfielders are constantly repeating the same dodge down the alley dodges. The repertoire of an attackman’s dodges include inside out moves, split dodges, rollbacks, topside moves, underneath moves, pop outs or Z dodges, rocker moves, question mark moves as well as swim moves. Of course, midfielders can do any of these moves, but middies are almost always on the "wrong" side of the field where all they do is run into no angle with little recourse if their weak hand isn’t developed yet.
All Short Sticks
In box lacrosse there are no poles. This provides a significant advantage for the development of the offensive players because they can work on their moves and ball handling against a defense that doesn’t beat them up and take the ball away. Too many times attackmen are either over powered by poles or are discouraged by their coach from dodging because of a bad match up.
The 2 Man Game
One of the staples of box lacrosse is the pick and roll both on and off the ball. It is the repetition of the pick and roll executed on the natural side of the players that teaches an extremely high level of reading the defense.
Boards and Glass/Netting
The ball is never out of play. Box lacrosse players get more repetitions.