There has been an incredible surge of great Canadian and Native lacrosse players in the highest levels of the game over the past couple of decades. Additionally, the ones playing for Pro and D1 programs are having disproportionately high rates of success. John Grant Jr.; the greatest professional lacrosse player ever and Lyle Thompson; finished with the most points in NCAA history to name a few. The result has been an injection of new thought on box lacrosse and skill development at the youth and high school ranks. Do we adopt the learning curriculum of the box development programs? Do we train more in the box? Do we teach the skills and techniques that are taught to youth players who grow up playing box?
I think there is a lot of merit to debating all of these questions and we should all continue to talk about it. But I am more interested in a less discussed reason for why box lacrosse may be beneficial to youth development.
Here are 5 reasons why I believe box lacrosse has merit…
- You CAN and WANT TO play year round…
Have you ever met a man in his 40s who plays in a pick up basketball league? He typically speaks about it like it is the last practice before the Super Bowl and would more likely hit 100 on the freeway before being late for warmups. 5v5 is all it takes in a box game. Box facilities in Canada and Upstate New York are plentiful and accessible. Anyone can find a couple of buddies and a space to play. (We will talk more about the benefits of free play and pick up environments in a later post).
- Box is more of the stuff we love and less of what we don’t…
In nearly every sport, we seem to find a great counterpart which provides a training platform for young athletes to experience the most enjoyable parts of the game. Soccers counterpart, Futsal, is played with a smaller ball for more skillful play, quarters are tighter, penalties are fewer, scoring is higher, and you don’t need as many people to play. In box, we shoot, pass and hit more – we stop the game less, do fewer wind sprints, and (most importantly) never have to chase balls.
- Mistakes happen a lot and … IT’S OK!…
Think about box lacrosse vs field lacrosse in terms of “pressure per play”. In field lacrosse, a turnover means a couple of things – 1. You sprint 60yds back to play defense 2. You sub off (possibly not to sub back on for a couple of rotations) 3. In a high level game, your turnover may be one of only 15 on your team (God forbid you turn it over 3 times! That’s ⅕ of your team’s turnovers!) .
In Box lacrosse, turnovers happen all the time. The shot clock encourages you to be aggressive. You know the ball will be back on your end in 30 seconds.
- Flow State …
“Flow State” occurs when a high level of your skillset is required to perform an equally challenging task. For advanced players, shooting on a goalie from 10 yards on a 6×6 goal is easy and boring. Shooting vs a padded, crouching goalie on a 4×4 net is unbelievably fun and challenging. This alone is enough to put lacrosse lovers in flow state.
- Cross training is great
In a previous blog, I spoke about the benefits of being a generalist. For those lacrosse hungry players getting their fill of year-round lacrosse training, box lacrosse is the dessert. New sets of skills, knowledge of the game and opportunities to play keeps the field game fresh.
For as long as parenting, coaching and mentorship exist, there will never be a more powerful motivation for a child than having fun. Box is A LOT of fun.
Until Next Time!