Throughout the offseason, we spend our Fridays and Saturdays running our Team 91 Lacrosse Training Academy programs. In a recent edition of The Scoop, which you can read about here, I walked through how those programs are structured for players that are picking up a stick for the first time through our guys that are committed to play college lacrosse. Come Sundays in the Fall and Winter, we run our Charlotte Lacrosse Leagues, our most popular offseason program.
The Charlotte Lacrosse League is split up in to two seasons: The Charlotte Fall Lacrosse League (“CFLL”) and the Charlotte Winter Lacrosse League (“CWLL”) with the Fall running in September and October and the Winter running in December to January. As we laid out a few weeks ago, we save November for tournament play for our travel teams; you can read more here.
The biggest difference with our Charlotte Lacrosse League is that you will never see us play the 10v10 version of lacrosse that most people are accustomed to. Everything we do uses a 7v7 format with 2 attackmen, 2 midfielders, 2 defensemen and a goalie on 60yd field.
As you have learned over the last few weeks, our approach to development has an emphasis on touches and repetitions. By playing a 7v7 format in our leagues, we can get our players more touches and repetitions each game in comparison to what they might see in a 10v10 game.
Here are a few examples:
- In a 40-minute 10v10 game, if each player touches the ball for the same amount of time, 40 minutes is split across 20 players so each player touches the ball for 2 minutes (if you exclude breaks and wasted time for simplicity). In a 40-minute 7v7 game, 40 minutes is split across 13-14 players so each player touches the ball for about 2 minutes and 50 seconds. Over 6 games, players would have the ball in their stick for an extra 5 minutes of play time. While it seems small, that’s a significant difference on a relative basis.
- The length of the field – A 10v10 regulation lacrosse game is generally played on a 110yd field. It’s too big. There is a reason why the Premier Lacrosse League uses a 100yd field in their 10v10 professional format. A shorter field means that more time is spent playing lacrosse and less time is wasted running between the restraining boxes. We take it a step further and play on a 60yd field. There is no time spent running between the restraining boxes at all. As soon as you step over midfield, it is the equivalent of stepping into the restraining box and you are forced to make a play. If the ball is on your end of the field, offensively or defensively, you’re involved in the action and you are forced to play, make decisions and learn. You’re getting live reps for the entire game!
There are only 2 faceoffs each game – Faceoffs are an extremely important part of the game which is we built the Friday Night Faceoffs program; Charlotte’s only faceoff specific training program. Faceoffs do however take time. The draw itself doesn’t take time but the process of setting the faceoff up, getting the appropriate players on the field, getting your wing guys set, putting the ball down, etc. eats minutes. Between the time a goal is scored and the faceoff is complete, you can burn 1-minute or more in game time. In a 40-minute running clock game, that is significant. If 5 goals are scored, 5 minutes of the game are spent simply setting up faceoffs. That is 5 minutes where no one is getting reps. In our Charlotte Lacrosse Leagues, we have a faceoff to start each half. Outside of that, the goalie picks the ball up after a goal is scored and starts play immediately. It allows us to optimize every second of time we have on the field together and get players more touches in every game.
While it likely deserves its own edition of The Scoop, one of the emerging trends in lacrosse is playing box lacrosse in the offseason. Box lacrosse is an indoor 5v5 version of lacrosse generally played with boards in a hockey rink on AstroTurf, plastic flooring or even concrete. While there are positives to box lacrosse, there are also a lot of hurdles, mainly facilities available to play box lacrosse in in the Carolinas, proper instruction, and consistent opportunities to play. Cost is also a hurdle when you are looking at box lacrosse since rental rates can be 10-20x more than outdoor fields or you’re renting or buying box boards.
As we stated in our approach to tournament play, we try to be mindful of the family budget. Increased rental rates means charging players more. Charging $400 to put field lacrosse players indoors and having them take 15-yard shots against the boards is not box lacrosse or conducive to the development of good habits. However, the smaller 7v7 format allows us to mimic the positives of box lacrosse like playing in tight spaces, moving without the ball, 2-man games, faster game play and more at a much more affordable rate with more consistent opportunities to play at convenient times and locations.
While there are a ton of positives that come out of the format of our leagues, the best part may be the hands-on approach that our coaches take during the league. It is what makes our leagues different from anything else players will find. Whether it be forcing everyone to play with their weak hand, adding specific guys to the “lefty club”, invoking minimum pass requirements or the instruction our coaches provide at halftimes and throughout games, the emphasis is always on the development of our players.
Our coaches’ hands-on approach combined with the fast pace, high-rep live action environment that 7v7 creates puts our players in the optimal developmental environment throughout the offseason.