Georgia Swarm coach Eddie Comeau arrived early recently at Infinite Energy Center to see an Atlanta youth lacrosse group playing with 6-foot goals and long poles while separated as attackers, midfielders and defenders.

No offense, he thought, but that’s not box lacrosse.

“Playing lacrosse in an arena or gym can help with stick skills,” Comeau said Saturday to coaches at the US Lacrosse Convention in Baltimore. “But it is not playing real box lacrosse. Go all the way.”

Comeau, who has won National Lacrosse League championships as an assistant with the Toronto Rock (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003) and as the head coach of the Rochester Knighthawks (2007), delivered a presentation entitled “From Box to Field” in the ballroom at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Comeau praised US Lacrosse’s efforts to revitalize the youth game through the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model, saying it espouses many of the elements that already exist in box lacrosse, which is most popular in Canada. (Comeau also led the Canadian indoor team to its fourth straight world championship in 2015.)

If you want to “go all the way” with box lacrosse, Comeau urged:

  • Teach the game. This includes player safety around the boards. (Hockey players will understand.)
     
  • Play proper floor sides. Split your team into lefts and rights. Since you’ll likely have way more rights than lefts, have the rights take turns playing a full shift (offense, defense and loose balls) as a left. It will help improve their off hand.
     
  • Use a shot clock. A stopwatch and a loud voice work just fine.
     
  • All short sticks. This will improve your defenders’ ball-handling.
     
  • No defense or attack. Everyone plays offense. Everyone plays defense.
     
  • Smaller goals (if available).
     
  • Box goalie gear (if available). Comeau has found that field goalies actually like padding up like box goalies, getting hit with the ball and it not hurting.

If you can’t get into an arena or don’t have access to box equipment, then there are ways to incorporate elements of box lacrosse into your field lacrosse practices, including:

  • “Thumbs up.” Encourage your players to grip their sticks with their thumbs along the shaft, like a hockey grip rather than a baseball grip. This will provide greater fluidity of motion.
     
  • Cradling two-handed. You rarely see box players go one-handed. They use their bodies as stick protection and cradle differently when passing vs. shooting.
     
  • Pass and catch across the body. While field lacrosse passes tend to be linear (stick-to-stick), box players frequently pass and catch the ball cross-body, a symptom of smaller space in which to operate. “The skill level required goes way up,” Comeau said.
     
  • Pick-and-roll. Use two-man sets to encourage passing and decision-making.

Inside the Box

Comeau presented several drills that will help give your field lacrosse practices a box lacrosse flavor.  Among them, “Inside the Box” teaches players to work together to get open, passing and catching under tight coverage and quick decisions. Do this in 30-45 second shifts. No checking from the side spots.

Lacrosse Athlete Development Model

Providing every athlete the opportunity to enter, enjoy and excel by learning and playing lacrosse in a way that’s best for each stage of growth and development.

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