Monday, December 22, 2008

Does It Really Matter What Type Of Lacrosse Stick You Have?

Question: Jon,
does it really matter what type of stick you have? i mean i went from a $40 one to a $130 and i really cant tell the difference besides the weight. do you have any advice on how to improve my stick skills ive been playin for 4 years and im still havin trouble forgetting to cover my butt end any advice?

thanks, shane

Answer: Shane thanks for the great question. You are on to something for sure. I have always said that the greatest difference between sticks is not the stick (head, shaft) itself but the pocket that is in it. But even then, you can have a great pocket in a really cheap stick and still play really well. Case in point: My three year old son has a little one of those mini Warrior sticks with a killer pocket in it. You can fake and shoot anywhere with that little stick and it's awesome.

I would also say that the more "elite" a player you are the more you will feel a difference between sticks. There are sticks that feel "light" in your hands and others that are "heavy". Some would even call them "dead". But I would say that 98% of most players wouldn't be able to really tell the difference.

I'm 36 years old and when I started playing lacrosse there were about ten sticks to choose from. And you could either get an aluminum shaft or a wood shaft. The big news was when Titanium shafts came out. (Which are still the best choice in my opinion.) Now, with the advances in manufacturing they can pump out new sticks in no time. Little cuts in the sidewalls, off-set, pinched, no pinch, etc. A lot of it is hype.

I was just writing to another player and telling him about the STX Excalibur. It's the all-time best selling lacrosse head ever. Very simple in design and has obviously stood the test of time.

In my opinion there are three major factors to choosing a stick. (Not in any particular order.) They are: stiffness of the head, width of the head, and width and shape of the scoop.

The stiffer the head the more durable it's going to be. The width of the head is going to make it easier to catch passes but will allow the ball to be checked out of the stick easier. The shape of the scoop is going to help you with ground balls. That's it.

Now if you should 110 miles per hour then maybe an extra cut in the sidewall is going to help you. But what most guys forget is that the stick is only one aspect of the game. A guy like Kyle Harrison is still going to run right by you no matter what stick is in his hands or yours for that matter. The stick is just one small part of what makes great players great. I've always wanted to see a game of all-americans played with stock sticks. Just one stock pocket. Give them five minutes with sticks and let them play and you'd still see the best players play their best. The sticks may change it's the hands that make the player.

On that note: Advice on improving your stick skills. Wall ball. Play. Play. Play. Experiment. Work your opposite hand. If the only trouble you are having is covering your butt end then what I would suggest is that you are at a bit of a plateau. To bust through it you need to become comfortable with how the stick feels with your hand on that butt end. Right now it doesn't feel good to you. Here's my suggestion: For a whole week just focus on your bottom hand on that butt end all the time. Even if you pick your stick up out of your car make sure your hand is on that butt end. No matter where you are on the field, keep your hand on the butt end. You've got to groove a path in your brain where it feels comfortable with your hand down there. Ideally you do this for twenty-one days. That's how long it really takes to groove a new habit. But start with seven days. Then try it again. You've just got to break the habit, once that's done you're golden.

Good luck with that Shane. Hope this helps. Really appreciate the feedback if this helps you. If you've got any more questions just email me through our forums or my blog. Kick butt and let me know how it goes. All the best,

Jonathan -

What Should I Use For A Long Stick Middie? A Defender Head or a Middie Head?

Question: Hey Jonathan,
I'm wondering, as long stick middie, if you would recommend a more defender head or a midfielder head.

Thanks a bunch,

Answer: Nathan I would recommend a more defender head. Basically all of the advantages of having a defender head to not take away from any of the advantages of a middie head. With a defender head you most likely are going to get a wider head, with a stiffer make up, with a wider scoop that is going to help you with ground balls. To be honest, you wouldn't mind those features if you were just playing middie. Most middie heads are narrower to begin with which make them less forgiving to catch with but easier to hold on to the ball when checked. As a long pole you're going to be dishing the ball more quickly to a short stick so you won't need the narrower head.

So all in all I'd go with a defender head.

A head that goes both ways? The Excalibur. I think it's the longest running head design in STX history and I've played with a lot of defenders who use it. Just a really nice, all purpose head.

Hope that helps. Let me know which one you go with.

Jonathan -

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just Started Playing Lacrosse. Do You Think I Can Play In College?

Question: just started playing lacrosse for 5 monthes and I am a junior in highschool. i do wall ball a lot and I am on a club team. Do you think I have a chance to play lacrosse in college? Is there anything I can do to get better?

Answer: Orion, my friend from high school was a baseball player. He played four years of high school baseball and never even touched a lacrosse stick. He picked one up at college and played four years. Yes, you can play in college. It will depend on what college you go to but it is possible. There is always a level that you can play.

Is there anything you can do to get better? There are tons of things you can do to get better. Keep up the wall ball and play, play, play. Read all you can. Watch videos of games so you can see how the game works. It's a great game and you'll have a ton of fun with it.

Jonathan -

Saturday, December 13, 2008

15 Years Old and New To Lacrosse. What Should We Do?

Question: My son is a 15 yr old freshman. He is a great baseball player who is considering switching to lacrosse this spring. Very athletic and currently playing JV hoop. We live north of Boston. What would be the best thing he could do to learn the sport and gain some skills before spring tryouts?

We have a league nearby but it appears too competitive. We have some south-of-Boston leagues but they are too far.

Do you have any contacts north of Boston? Would one-on-one training be the best thing at this stage for starters?


Answer: Hey there Jon. Quite simple really.

1) Get him a good stick with a great pocket from Commonwealth Lacrosse. It's important he have a good pocket as he will learn how to cradle and throw properly. Great Christmas gift.

2) There are a ton of videos at that you can buy to help him get started.

3) Find him a wall where he can throw a ball against. This will single-handedly be the number one thing that he can do. Stick skills will be his biggest challenge so get him started now.

It's awesome that he is athletic and he will find the offenses very similar as in basketball. But to get him up to speed you need to get his throwing and catching up to snuff asap.

When I coached in Bedford, Mass. I had a ton of athletic kids but they couldn't throw and catch. When he can throw and catch he can do anything.

Don't worry about the leagues yet. If he's got some buddys who play it would be great for him to throw and catch. I used to throw tennis balls indoors in the garage because it had a nice tall wall and the tennis ball didn't break things (much).

Hope that helps!

Jonathan -

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Schools Should My Son Target?

Question: My son plays lacrosse here in Illinois. A solid 4.2 GPA he wants to pursue an engineering degree. What Division 3 schools should he target?

Answer: Richard this is not an easy question to answer as your question has many variables. So I'm going to throw some questions back at you and let you know that I never recommend any specific school to go to. Some quick looks at Division 3 standings and you'll quickly know what are the top lacrosse schools. Within those schools some will have excellent engineering programs and some won't have any. So you will quickly weed out most of those schools because they aren't going to offer what your son is looking for academically.

By targeting D3 schools I'm going to assume that you feel he is not D1 calibre as a player and that you feel he has a better chance of playing D3. If that is the case you may also want to open your options and look at schools that are in the Mens Collegiate Lacrosse Association. The MCLA is the governing body similar to the NCAA for universities with club programs. The level of lacrosse is tremendous and the ability for your son to play is extremely accessible. It's a little known opportunity for lacrosse players heading to college. Many athletes are attracted naturally to D1, D2, and D3 but in many cases the level of lacrosse and the level of student is much higher than that found on most D2 teams and many D3 teams. Check out

You must think of some things as a family.

1) If your son were to choose a school and NOT play lacrosse, would he be happy there. That's the first question. Here are some others.

2) If this school the size of school that my son needs. Large school? Small, intimate campus? The latter usually comes with much more individual attention to the student which is important obviously.

3) Does my son want to be away from home or close to it? Not all kids like to be that far away. Some can't wait to get really, really far away from the family to spread their wings.

4) Are the kids on the lacrosse team a bunch of dumb jocks or are they serious about their academics. Middlebury, serious students. Salisbury, probably not as serious.

5) Does the coach have a history that stresses academics or is he strictly lacrosse. Coaches are paid to perform as coaches and therefore most will lean towards lacrosse.

6) Is there a school my son really wants to go to that is D1 but we're not really looking at it because we don't think he'll play? This may be true as a freshman but he can probably play club there or JV and focus on his grades while working on his game. Back in the late eighties there was a kid who played for Syracuse who was a piano major and didn't see the field till his senior year. If I remember correctly he won a national title never thinking he was going to play. But he worked and he worked and it worked out for him in the end. Don't rule that option out for your son either.

A great school that I was recruited by that has a great program is Roanoke in Virginia. Also, check out SUNY Cortland which wouldn't be too far away. But do check out the list of schools on the MCLA and talk about some of those too.

Richard for most parents and their kids coming out of high school the focus is on going to one of the big schools in any division. It's as if there are blinders on. But a question you really want to ask as a family is, "Is the goal to be able to play lacrosse in college?" You will probably get a different answer. There is a difference between going to a great program, sitting on the bench while your game develops, and finally getting the chance to play. And, going to college and playing. The first option takes a ton of discipline and patience which I don't see much of these days in most kids. If your son has that patience then go for it. If he doesn't then plan accordingly.

Hope that helps Richard. Please don't hesitate to write again. I'm here to help. I will post this answer on my blog so you can refer to it later.

All the best,

Jonathan Edwards - Olympian

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Should My Son Cut His Defensive Stick Down? Coach Thinks So.

Question: My son is 15 and 6ft tall, he has been playing defense for 4 years now. He plays Varsity for his high school team. He now has a new defensive coach who wants to cut down his stick. What's your opinion? He says it make him a better player and that most colleges won't let him use the stick as is either?

Answer: Robyn thanks for the question. When I coached I often told kids to cut their sticks down because they usually didn't have the core strength to handle it, or they weren't that great at stick handling.

The main reason defenders use that long stick is to keep offensive players at bay. The extended length helps them knock down passes and stick check their opponent. They can usually get to a ground ball sooner than someone with a short stick, and if they are behind that offensive player they can poke check his stick or gloves in hopes that the player misses and can't pick it up.

All that being said, I've never met a high school kid who didn't catch, throw, cradle and all in all play better on the field with a shorter stick. When I say short I mean no less than 5 feet or 60 inches. The days of the 52 inch defensive stick are gone.

So I do believe that it will probably make your son a better player now. I know he is tall but I imagine that he's running around with that big thing and he's not using it correctly because it's so long. He's only fifteen. He's going to be a stud at 6 feet. For now I would probably chop it down, maybe 6 inches so it's 5 feet 6 inches long. If that still looks a bit unruly I'd take it down another 6 inches.

Cutting the stick down will not HURT his game. It will only improve it. But if the stick is too long it will definitely hurt his game.

Now the comment about most colleges won't let him use the stick as is either? I think that's a load of you know what. It's true if your fifteen year old son was trying out right now. But it may just be that your coach is looking for a third party reference that you would believe in to help justify the decision. I don't think the coach really needs to do that if he explains himself and that comment kind of ruins his credibility with me. If your son is 19, 6 feet and two hundred pounds he's going to be using a six foot stick.

Think of a stick like you would a pair of shoes. Sure, you may save some money by not having to buy another pair while you wait for him to grow into them. But in the short term those shoes are going to give him blisters, they will affect how he runs, and they will affect his coordination. But if you go down to the right size that he needs right now he's going to develop properly, with good technique, and in the long run he will be a better athlete because of it.

Hope that helps Robyn. Keep my posted and good luck!

Jonathan -

Should I Buy The New Evo Ti If I Play Defense?

Carson it should be a better head if it's stiffer than the old model. Ti can be expensive and it's a great marketing hook to get you to buy it.

One thing I don't like about the Evo is that it's pretty narrow. That's an advantage if you're a middie or play attack. But as a defender it can make scooping balls or snagging passes a bit more difficult. If you are a stick handling stud then go for it. But if you're still improving you're game I'd go with something that was a little wider in the head, had a good scoop for ground balls, and that was stiff so you can check the you know what out of your opponent.

Jonathan -

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dying Lacrosse Heads

Question: I'm starting to get into dying lacrosse heads. I have just been wondering if you can leave the ballstop on a lacrosse head while you are dying. Will the dye also dye the ball stop, or what happens? For the last one I dyed, I removed it because it was coming off anyways, but I was wondering if it was necessary to take it off for a brand new head with a new ball stop. Might be an obvious answer, but I'm not sure.
Thanks in advance :)


Answer: Hey Sam. Sorry I missed this question. It will dye it but it won't be solid. It will come out lighter than what the plastic looks like. So if you dyed the stick black the stop would come out grey.

I did it on a goalie stick years ago and that's what happened.

Hope that helps man. Send me a photo of your die job when you're done. I want to see what it looks like!

Jonathan -

Lacrosse in Prep School? How Do We Decide Which One?

Question: Jonathan, my son is a fifteen year old junior in New York. I'm thinking about sending him to prep school so that he graduates a little bit later. He'd be 17 now when he graduates. A bit young in our opinion. He's six feet tall and one-hundred and ninety pounds. He's got a 90 average. He's gotten a fair bit of interest from colleges and his team has made it through a coople of rounds of the state tournament. He's an attackman. My question is, what prep schools should we send him to and how do we know where he should go? Should I talk to the college coaches? or call the prep schools directly such as Deerfield, Loomis, etc? Thanks for the help. The blog is great. Keep it up!

Signed, a concerned mom in New York

Answer: Hey there New York. Both approaches are solid.

I took the route you are about to go on and it made all the difference in the world for me. You are exactly right, your son is young and should take a year or two to incubate so to speak.

Many college coaches have relationships with high school coaches. They may teach a similar system that the kids can learn so that the transition to college isn't so steep. If you talk to a college coach he will tend to recommend a school based on that alone and not necessarily on the other needs of the athlete. (Size of school, distance to home, etc.) So keep that in mind when you talk to college coaches. They will have their biases.

On the other hand, prep school coaches will have needs that they want to fill now. At 6 foot 190 your son has the potential to be a stud physically as he matures. With two solid years of prep school he should graduate at 6 foot 225lbs which would give him the physical tools to be a stud on the lacrosse field. His grades are excellent and he shouldn't have trouble getting interest anywhere. Also, whatever interest he has now from college coaches, don't feel that those same schools will be on the radar next year. There may be more, and better ones, if he continues on an upward path especially if he goes to a school like Deerfield, Loomis, etc.

If it was my son here's what I would do. Sit down as a family and talk about schools he may like to go to WITHOUT lacrosse. Not schools that don't have the sport, but schools he would like to go to if he wasn't playing lacrosse. The worst thing that can happen is that your son goes to a school, lacrosse (for some reason) isn't on the interest radar, and he hates it there. I know you said he loves the sport and I don't discount that, but it's a healthy exercise that families rarely go through.

Next see if any of those schools have lacrosse coaches who are already interested in him. Give them a call and express your concerns about age etc. and where they might recommend he go. They will have their favorites.

At that point you have to weigh those prep schools against your family needs/values. Do you want him to close to home? Does he want to be far away? Rural? Large? Small?

Like anything, getting a referral is always better than going in cold. Once you decide on a couple of schools do some research and try and track down some parents whose kids have already gone there and played. How was their experience? How was the coach? Did things work out as they'd hoped? And finally, what did they do about money? Was there scholarship involved? How did they get it? Was it academic? Athletic? Just grill them. It's my experience that most people love to share their story so don't be afraid to just ask. It may take some research but in the end it could be worth it. You don't want you son to go to a school that looks good on paper only to be dissapointed with a coach who wasn't truthful or a school with really bad teachers.

Keep this in mind: Your son can play lacrosse until his twenty-first birthday without losing college eligibility unless he enrolls full-time at any college or university. Once he enrolls full-time he has five years to complete four years of eligibility. So you don't have to look at prep school as just one year potentially. They do it in Texas a ton for football. Kids practice with thier high school teams and lift weights and get hayooooge! Then they go to college as men, not boys. Your son could do the same. That's what I did and it made a huge difference. He could go to prep school then come back to Nassau county and work, take some classes, and play club ball. Then go to college as a stud when he's nineteen or even twenty. Not all families do that but it's an option that most people are not aware of. From my perspective I was going to be a twenty-three year old freshman at Notre Dame. School is a hell of a lot different when you have some years under your belt. Many kids get to college and screw things up royally because they've never been away from home and they finally get a beer in their hands without mom or dad around. just FYI,

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you need anything clarified. I will post this answer anonymously on my blog so you can refer back to it. Please stay in touch and let me know what you decide. I always look forward to hearing how things worked out, and I love seeing guys I've been able to help playing out their dream. Good luck.

Jonathan Edwards - Olympian

Monday, August 11, 2008

Do People Play Lacrosse in Alabama? And Can They Go D1?

I got a question from a player in Alabama who wanted to know how he can get recruited by Division 1 schools. Many of you already know my answer but here it is again.

Answer: Robert the best thing you can do is get out of Alabama as much as possible to play against those guys from the north. That's the only way you'll get the exposure to those schools.

The fact that your school is the best in Alabama means nothing compared to the hundreds of players who are fro New York and Maryland who will be applying to those same schools. I call it the "Top of the Bottom of the Barrel" rule.

The fact that you are tall, and an attackman, can really help you. But you have to get to camps, our tournaments to play as much as you can.

In lacrosse we actually lose a year of exposure to get recruited. Unlike fall sports and winter sports where you can play your senior year and that can affect where you go, lacrosse players really need to have their act in gear by your junior year.

An option that I took, and that you might take, is to transfer to a school with better exposure later in your high school career. Possibly to repeat your junior year etc. This can be tough on some families but if the dream is big enough you'll find a way to get it done.

Hope that helps Robert. Let me know if you need anything else.

Jonathan -

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What's a JUCO? And How Should We Handle This?

Question: Our son is 17. He recently found out he did not clear at the Div 1 level for Bellarmine University in Kentucky. His coach phoned yesterday to suggest he start at a junior college to help him increase his grades. A very nice coach from a junior college in Syracuse? phoned same day and talked to our son about going to a junior college in Syracuse . Our son is wanting to do what his future coach suggests. We have never heard of junior colleges before and are wondering if we can ask for scholarships for these schools. Jack, (Bellarmine coach)suggested our son get one year college, and he would take him for 3 years. The junior college coach told our son he would go for 2 years, we wondered if 2 years was mandatory at all junior colleges. Any info you can give us we would appreciate as your time permits. Thank you.
(Name witheld) ( Parents)

Answer: Hey there guys. Thanks for writing.

Junior Colleges (JUCO's) are very common for athletes. And they are not uncommon for athletes who need to get their grades up. They may be more popular in the North East and that may be why you may not have heard of them.

JUCO's are also for athletes who are a little young, or a little underdeveloped physically but super-talented. It's a great place for kids to grow a little bit, mentally and physically to understand and survive college.

Many Division 1 coaches have relationships with coaches at both JUCO's as well as prep schools. Many of these coaches have worked or played together on other teams so they know each others systems. A Div 1 coach would recommend your son go to a school that will develop him into a player that he can use. The D1 coach may have a need for your son to play a certain style, or even a certain position, so they work together to help your son have a better chance of playing once he gets to the D1 school.

As far as scholarships go, I am not sure. It varies school to school. Most JUCO's are cheaper than full-fledged universities or colleges but just start reaserching the heck out of the school that he is recommending. (If you let me know the name of the school I may be able to give you more insight.) Upstate NY is a hot bed for lacrosse and there are some fantastic players that your son will be exposed to.

Generally, JUCO's are not necessarily filled with the brightest bulbs in the box. Steve will have to keep his wits about him and focus on his goal. There will be a ton of players there who are "dumb jocks." Most of them have never been away from home and most of them will be partying like rock stars and trying to get through school. (Don't mean to scare you Mom. I usually save that for the dad's.) But if your son is a solid kid he will do just fine.

(Just as an aside: I spend a lot of time in Calgary, AB Canada and I coached a young kid who went to Limestone in South Carolina. It's a D2 school and it is primarily a jock school. They have a ton of athletes male and female and it is party central. But my athlete went down and was able to focus. Limestone was his goal, but when he got there the coach did an about face and didn't really play him as much as he wanted. He was a young freshman but the kid was a stud! Women in the gym where we trained thought he was twenty-six. But the school was a nightmare. Kids coming to practice stoned. Drunk. You name it. But Bailey worked on his game, and his grades, and ended up transferring to McGill in Montreal which is a phenomenal school academically. My point is that even though Bellarmine has shown interest, it doesn't have to be the goal. Your son may go to the JUCO, and with focus, get his grades up and get interest for other schools. Not just Bellarmine.

It's easy in this process to feel that you're on a water slide. Just hop in and you'll slide to the goal. On this slide though you always have options.

Now a bit about the "year" confusion. Most JUCO programs are two years. But that is really irrelevant. A lot will depend on how he is doing. If he kicks butt and gets stronger physically and mentally he might leave after one year. Or he might stay for two. That's up to your son. He may get there and love it and not want to leave. Or he may get there, hate it, and be so motivated he just does fantastically so he can get the hell out.

The NCAA rule for Div1 is you have five years to complete four years of eligibility. Once you enroll full time in ANY school. If you go to you can see the most current eligibility rules for all the Divisions.

Another option, and one that I followed, is to repeat a grade of high school or transfer to another school. I did this after my junior year of high school. I wanted to be an all-american so I transferred to a better lacrosse school, repeated my junior year and was an all-american my senior year. This is most commonly done in private schools, or a kid from a public school goes to a prep school to do a "PG" year or a "post grad" year. There are some great schools in New England for this and they all have ties to college programs.

There is always scholarship or financial aid at these schools too. Also, no matter what your incomes are combined you can always apply for financially. It's a myth that you can make too much money to qualify.

The JUCO coach is going to want you for two years. The D1 coach is going to want you for more. You can always go to the JUCO for two, take a "red shirt" year at the D1 school and then play for two. There are all sorts of options.

I am going to assume Jack is being honest with you. If he is a good recruiter then he has a ton of kids he's talking to just like your son. He's just hoping for some of them to stick. It's like throwing mud at the wall. But what he is saying is, "This is what I feel is the best path for you to take to get into my school." But along the way so many things can happen. Your son can do well. He may not do well. He may do well and be interested in another school by then. Or he may get injured and can't play. All is possible.

Hope that helps guys. Let me know if you need anything else. I'm sure you're going to have a ton of questions and I'll do my best to answer them. Good luck to your son and let me know what you decide. I always love to hear how things turn out.

Jonathan -