[Author’s Note – If you don’t know lacrosse, you probably shouldn’t read this article.]
I spent this past winter playing box lacrosse through 3D Upstate’s box lacrosse program. I found this time valuable, and it drastically improved me as a player. In this program, we didn’t just scrimmage; we learned how to play box. Throughout the winter I found I became a smarter, more physical player who also passes and catches the ball more efficiently.
Going into winter, I was a midfielder who only knew field lacrosse. I considered myself a strong alley dodger and a not-great shooter with excellent vision, and I was a good, but timid defender. I also wasn’t very aggressive when I was on offense, despite being a good dodger. I was naturally unassertive and more timid as a player.
As I went on through the box program, I found myself becoming a more aggressive and assertive player. I was no longer afraid of being hit. Now I see myself as an aggressive player, and despite my slender frame I can push other kids around instead of being pushed around. I also found that I was passing and catching more efficiently and accurately, and could see the field even better.
Going into the box training, this is what I was hoping to improve, and I did. Because the box fields are so tight, the style is way different from field. Instead of offenses being reliant on alley dodging and triangle movement, it is about picks and “back-to-the-basket dodging.” This means that, instead of running at your defender, you drive your shoulder into his chest like a big man posting up in basketball. From there, you can face dodge or inside roll, depending on where you are. I got good at this style of dodging and I built more confidence in my ability to be strong when dodging. Defensively, in box I found I couldn’t be timid and allow the offensive player to control where I went. I had to push back and check hard. I found myself adapting my defense and being assertive.
Passing and Catching
Box lacrosse really helped me with my passing and catching. I was already good at both, but I passed too much with my arms, so passes would take longer and my lacrosse stick was more exposed for defenders to check, and in terms of catching, you can always get better at that . By the end of the box training, I was passing with my arms in tighter and using my wrists more. This allowed for quicker, more accurate passes. I also became a better catcher. Because the field is so small, you have to react quickly when catching. There are also many times when you have to protect your lacrosse stick when you catch because a defender is right next to you, so I got pretty good at that as the weeks went on. Also, for about five to ten minutes at the beginning of the box session we would play wallball (you throw a ball against a wall, catch that ball and then do it again).
I became a smarter player throughout the box training. In field lacrosse, if you are running an offensive set, you will pretty much always know that if you do a certain thing, there are a certain amount of outcomes that can happen. For example, if you dodge down the alley in a 1-3-2, you can pass it to the player behind the goal, you could maybe feed the guy floating from the crease, or you could shoot. But in box, offense is more about reading the situation and reacting. Besides picking, there aren’t any set rules or things to follow. What this means is that, when playing box, I learned to scan the whole field and not just where I think the open man would be. By doing this I found myself making skip passes or finding an open man I wouldn’t have found back in the fall.
Box really helped me become a better player and I would recommend it to any player who wants to do something in the offseason (unless you play another sport). It certainly helped me in aspects of the game that I felt weak in, and strengthened the aspects I felt strong in, and it also boosted my confidence as a player.