5 Summer Tips for Midfielders
Are you a midfielder? Are you hoping to snag the attention of collegiate coaches at your summer tournaments? Hope no more, because I tell you exactly what to focus on. I give pointers on what will make you stand out amongst your peers. Other midfielders will compare to you like Kylo Ren compares to Darth Vader. Spoiler: Darth Vader dominates Kylo in every category. You ready? Good! Keep on reading.
Play Good Defense
A lot of young midfielders put in the work offensively. They have a good shot and throw accurate passes; however, many of the same players are worth nada on defense. Want to get a coach’s attention at midfield? The best attention grabber is to be a two-way midfielder. This means you can play good offense and defense.
Midfielders that play good defense are hard to come by. This is doubly true for the middie who’s elite on both sides of the ball. Don’t believe me? Think about this. NCAA lacrosse now has an 80 second shot clock. The PLL has a 45 second shot clock. The MLL has a 60 second shot clock. Know what wastes a good 5-10 seconds from the shot clock? Having to sub out your defensive midfielders for your offensive ones; however, the guy who can play both sides of the field won’t have to sub off. Therefore, he gets more time on the field. Coaches want this guy.
On a recruiting trip at Susquehanna, I discussed how the game has evolved to favor two-way midfielders with head coach Stewart Moan. He explained how two-way midfielders are the most valuable players in lacrosse with the shot clock addition. Why waste time subbing your personnel, when they can play both sides of the field? An example situation follows: A coach is looking at two solid high school midfielders. He can only offer one. Both are good on offense; however, only one plays good defense. The coach is going to recruit the more versatile player.
This is why you need to play good defense at midfield. I can’t promise coaches will make you a two-way midfielder, but good short stick defensive midfielders still carve out major roles on their respective rosters. If coaches only see you as a defensive option, that’s still better than them seeing no role for you at all. If you look at the 2019 MLL and PLL drafts, you’ll notice a majority of midfielders picked play both sides of the field. You need to strive to play like them. They are the future of lacrosse.
Able to Score on Run
The best way to get noticed as an offensive midfielder is by doing this: having the ability to shoot and score on the run. If you are hoping to play top tier D1 and can’t score on the run, you have no chance. Midfielders who take the ball up top, dodge down the alley, and rocket a shot opposite corner while sprinting full-speed are the equivalent of John Wick with an M60. They are that deadly.
As a d pole, I can confirm that midfielders who score on the run are the hardest to cover. It’s extremely easy to beat up a guy trying to score when keeping his feet flat. You can level him, lift check him, or easily stand in the shooting lane. It’s a lot easier said than done to do this on a guy sprinting towards the net with Katniss Everdeen level accuracy.
To recap, you younglings dreaming to be the next Paul Rabil, remember this: be elite at shooting on the run.
Get Open on Clears
This one is pure effort. As a midfielder, you are the primary target on clears. Think of yourself as Odell Beckham Jr. You are the guy the quarterback is targeting downfield (unless you’re Eli Manning and can’t hit water when in a boat). As a short stick, it’s a lot easier for you to move through the ride and there is less worry of going offsides. Plus, you are a bigger threat to score when pushing the pace.
Coaches notice the players that slack on clears. The guys that walk a couple yards backwards and half-heartedly call for the ball. The guys that beeline for the box so another midfielder is forced to sub in and clear. Don’t be those guys. Those guys are as lame as Dave Gettleman.
Instead, you should constantly move to get open. If the ball carrier is in trouble, you cut back to him. If the goaltender is looking for a deep pass to push tempo, run downfield while looking back at the ball. There is a role for the player who consistently clears the ball. I promise you a coach will like you more than the guy slacking on clears. Failed clears cost you in big games. Make sure you prove you’ll contribute to a successful clearing effort.
Push Ball on Fast Breaks
Please do not interpret this as forcing the ball when there’s nothing open in transition. You need to be smart about this. However, it drives me crazy when there’s a 4v3 fast break and the ball carrier has an open man but decides to hold it and wait for the offense to settle. Why would you not at least challenge the defense? When you wait for the offense to settle, you are allowing a scrambled defense to settle. Of course, if no one is open, don’t throw the ball into coverage; yet, if the top defenseman slides early, pass it off so your teammate gets an open shot. Making big plays in transition is one of the little things scouts will notice.
Be in Excellent Shape
As a midfielder, you need to be in better shape than any other position. You should not be constantly subbing off for air. In college, only two midfield lines consistently play. That’s a lot of running around full speed. You may get away with being out-of-shape in high school, but you won’t in college. So, you might as well give yourself an edge over your competition.
Some guidelines to know you’re well-conditioned follow: your mile should be under six and a half minutes, your mile and a half should be under ten minutes, and your forty yard dash should be under five seconds. Don’t freak if these numbers sound ridiculous. Admittedly, these are extreme numbers. But if you’re enough of a specimen to put these numbers up, you will physically dominate over your summer competition. Being a physical specimen on the field can make coaches more lenient on your playing deficiencies.
Do you agree with my tips? Do you disagree? Did I miss something? Let me know your thoughts by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can also subscribe to my website to comment directly onto this article. Regardless, thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed!