Becoming A Two-Way Midfielder
One thing is for sure, the nature of lacrosse is changing. As the popularity of the sport continues to increase, the diversity and range of the athletes does as well. The days of specialized offensive and defensive midfielders are coming to an end. Coaches want strong, fit, and athletic two-way midfielders that will make contributions of both sides of the ball. In 2013, the NCAA eliminated the sideline horn rule, which stopped play to give more frequent substitution opportunities. Removing the horn resulted in midfielders not being able to get off the field as easily. Now, midfielders are forced to stay in the game for offensive and defensive possessions, thus the distinction between offensive and defensive midfielders has blurred. Thanks to that, it's promoted a new era in lacrosse that demands a strong and reliable two-way athlete. If you're looking to upgrade your midfield game, check out CoachUp's quick list of tips below!
Defense to Offense
There is no bigger asset, and no more desirable recruit, than someone who can play at both ends of the field. However, becoming an all-around midfielder will take time and dedication. Take opportunities in practice to get reps on both sides of the ball and don’t hesitate to ask questions. If you're a defensive-minded midfielder, start working early and often on your stick skills. Play alone, take shots, do anything to improve your stick stills, because higher level lacrosse will now demand you to do so. At the very least, you'll need to be able to pick up a groundball, run down the field, and give it to your offense without throwing it away. Learning the offensive sets if you consider yourself strictly defensive won’t hurt either. If you get caught down the other end with the ball on offense, knowing what’s going on is key to not screwing up the entire offense. Don't be a liability! Recognize what’s happening around you and be a threat.
Offense to Defense
If you’re an offensive-minded player, you must make sure you understand how to play someone down the alley on defense. Make sure you know how to stand correctly and force the offensive player to his weak hand or away from the goal. If you’re playing a certain-style defense, know your very basic responsibilities. In some, you might have to funnel your assignment towards a slide; you should try to fit into a zone appropriately -- it all depends! But, there's no excuse for ignorance, if you want to be a consistent name called, put yourself in a position to succeed. Make it a focus to know the hot and two calls and understand what both of them mean. Additionally, learn how the slides work so you’re not a liability on defense.
(Related: Read about improving your shooting through one-man drills here.)
Being a two-way midfielder in lacrosse is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. Constantly coming on and off the field can make it hard to get in the flow, so playing both sides allows for you to get a feel for tempo and pace. Since you’re on the field longer, you'll have more chance to prove yourself, provide opportunities, and create them as well! Being a two-way midfielder will also give you a chance to push the ball in transition, instead of freezing up with no confidence. As a two-way, you'll feel comfortable hitting someone, scooping up the groundball, and then taking it coast-to-coast for a goal. Take your time to become a two-way midfielder by working on the skill sets utilized on both sides of the field. Not only will it help your chances of getting recruited to play college lacrosse, but it will open up a role for you in an fresh, exciting way.