Playing as a middie in lacrosse is one of the hardest positions to master, because you need to develop both attacking and defensive skills while maintaining the stamina to hustle up and down the field, switching between positions throughout the game.
You need to be physically tough and imposing, to close down attacking players, but also agile and nimble enough to move the ball swiftly upfield, building attacking play from the back. And you also need excellent timing and balance to spot shooting opportunities from distance, and the technique and power to capitalize on those chances.
Sounds difficult right? Well, it gets easier if you train hard enough. We've looked at some of the specific ways you can develop your midfield game to give you the edge on the field. You'll need to combine strength training, stamina training and develop your ball skills with a partner or using a lacrosse rebounder.
How do I become a better lacrosse midfielder?
Work on your dodges
Lacrosse midfielder drills focus a lot on dodges, and with good reason. They are one of the most important skills for middies, allowing them to effectively move the ball upfield, confusing and confounding their opponents. The split dodge and the bull dodge are probably the most useful lacrosse dodges for middies - make sure you train them again and again.
Build your ground ball skills
Control of the ball when it's on the ground can make the difference in a tightly fought game. The most obvious need for excellent ground ball control is during the face off, which is why you'll always see this skill crop up in lacrosse drills for middies. But control of ground balls during the normal flow of play is just as important, as it can be the turning point where your team wins possession.
Develop two-way capability
Whether you see yourself more as an attacking midfielder or a defensive midfielder, lacrosse games are won by teams where the middies can do both jobs equally well. Learning how to play middie in lacrosse requires you to develop both attacking and defensive play, and know how and when to switch between the two styles, by reading the game and reacting faster than the other team when there's a turnaround.
Improve your overall stamina
It's impossible to overemphasize just how important stamina is in midfield lacrosse. As a middie, you'll be covering significantly more yards then your teammates in attack and defense, and you need to keep it up right through to the final minute. If you've got the stamina to keep you running at full speed while the other team is starting to fade, you've got the decisive advantage. So from distance running, to sprints, to circuit training, anything which builds stamina builds your overall game as a middie.
How can I dominate midfield?
Learn to shoot on the run
One of the best lacrosse tips for middies who want to make an impact is to develop your shooting skills, particularly when on the move. A team where only the attackers can reliably score is much weaker than a team where the midfielders can grab the occasional goal, even from long range. It gives the defensive players and goalie that many more attack vectors to worry about, piling on the pressure and making them more likely to slip up.
Move opponents towards your defense
Lacrosse midfielders need to be tough enough to shut down opposing players when necessary, but it's not your main job. Rather than going head to head with attacking players, sometimes the better strategy is to force them down the right channels towards your defensive players, who are better prepared and trained in checking. This also helps keep you free to switch into attacking mode at a moment's notice.
Domination of the midfield in lacrosse isn't all about physical domination, much of it is about strategic domination, using your teammates' individual skills to the best effect and forcing the opposition to play the way you want them to.
What is the best lacrosse shaft for playing middie?
We've talked a lot about the importance of versatility as a middie, and being able to switch quickly from defense into attack mode. There is one element of the game though where you need to make a decision on whether you're more suited to attacking or defensive play, and that's choosing your stick length.
Most attacking or two way middies will choose a short shaft, allowing them to move and switch positions quickly, get shots off swiftly and complete short quick passes. Defensive middies will choose a longer stick, similar to the ones used by defensemen (hence the term LSM, or Long Stick Middie). Which one you choose will depend on your skills and playing style, but if you haven't yet developed a specialism, we'd recommend starting with a shorter stick as it gives you more options. If you later end up focusing on your defensive game, you can always switch it out for a longer stick at that point.
Looking through a list of midfield tips is a great way to spend a few minutes, but if you're really going to dominate the game, you need to get out there and put some of these tips into practice! Remember - lacrosse games aren't won on the pitch, they're won on the training ground, and in the gym. This is good advice for all players, but particularly for the middie!