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State Of The Game: Defining Fundamental Lacrosse

February 13, 2018
This past Saturday we were able to watch 6’3”, 205 lbs. University of North Carolina sophomore Tanner Cook throw down a one-handed dunk in the Heels game vs Furman. Once again, when we thought we had seen it all, the game finds ways to keep getting more creative. As several high school and youth programs hit the fields coming up here in the next couple weeks, there will be several coaches preaching about “fundamental lacrosse”. I would like to challenge all of those coaches to define fundamental lacrosse, because as I used to define it very clearly in my younger coaching days, but now I am not so sure what the definition is. If I was forced to define it, I would say whatever works for you to be successful, it’s fundamental to you.

The Face Off

On February 14, 2004, 14 years ago tomorrow, we had to redefine fundamental face off technique. Alex Smith took the field for the University of Delaware and started taking draws with the “Motorcycle Grip”. This grip was taboo, as all faceoff coaches were telling kids not to have both hands overhand while taking draws. Smith went on to go 1027-1487 for a .691 all time percentage. He has gone down as one of the best faceoff guys of all time. Smith then went on and proved that his motorcycle grip would work at the Major League Lacrosse level by averaging a 60% career win average as a faceoff specialist in his career for the Bayhawks. He redefined “fundamental” faceoff technique across the lacrosse industry.

Two Handed Lacrosse
Now here's a little story I've got to tell about two bad brothers you know so well. It started way back in ‘Cuse history…Ok, ok. I just thought this story needed a Beastie Boys intro since in my mind they redefined rap about the same time these guys were redefining the way lacrosse was played. It was 1987 when Gary & Paul Gait came to Syracuse, one year after Beastie Boys released License to Ill. For the next four years, we all had the pleasure of watching two guys amaze us, totaling almost 500 points between the two of them, with almost all of those points all generating from the left hand. All of them well except…this one!


The Gait Brothers taught us that when you decrease your angle, you don’t have to switch to the off-hand—you can go behind the back! And then palms hit every face of every coach who has demanded that the only way to play lacrosse is to have a right and left hand!


Paul Gait 

Games Played

57

Career Goals

127

Career Assist

85

Total Points

212

Points Per Game Average

4.45




Gary Gait

Games Played

65

Career Goals

192

Career Assist

61

Total Points

253

Points Per Game Average

4.52




Ground Balls

I have been teaching ground ball technique from the first practice I ever ran. In 2008, I had the fortunate experience of coaching Corbyn Tao Brambley when I was at Robert Morris University, serving as the head coach. Corbyn amazed with 102 ground balls during his career at RMU, which ranks him 10th all time. That may or may not move the needle for some, however, keep in mind Corbyn played crease attack. He made a living off of the “Indian pick-up” ground ball technique. Many of those “Indian pick-ups” led to one of Corbyn’s 116 career goals.



So coaches when you go out to the field this spring to coach up your kids, maybe look at what you define as fundamental and examine it a bit closer. You may be locking up what could be one of your players’ best attributes. Good luck, have fun, and think outside the box.