An Intelligent Box Lacrosse Discussion On Twitter

Swanklax Cac to the cac
It's an All-CAC Conversation

The conversations revolving around box lacrosse right now are myriad.  I’ve been arguing that everyone should play some box lacrosse and that it will help both offensive and defensive players improve.  I’m not 100% sold on whether or not it helps goalies yet, but I have yet to hear from a field or box goalie who thought playing the other version of our sport actually made them worse at their position.

Last night @SwankLax took to Twitter saying that he didn’t believe box lacrosse could help a defenseman, and of course, I just had to argue with him.  Check out what each of us had to say below and then let us know where YOU stand in the comments.  Let’s truly try to figure this stuff out, shall we?!?!

SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
The beginning…
SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
More from the beginning. This rant just keeps going!
SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
It just keeps going!
SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
This is the definition of prolific tweeting.
SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Seriously? I think Swank may have a twitter addiction.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Enter the second side of the conversation.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
The tirade/conversation continues.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
the beginnings of a retort.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Parry. Jab.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
More back and forth.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Getting a little more ethereal.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Lots more points made by Swanker.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
A little more from yours truly.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
For some reason we both tweeted in 3s for a while.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
More ideas flowing from both sides…
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
The Statement!
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
I make a Big Lebowski reference regarding opinion…
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Swank needs to watch that movie more.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
The converstion continues in a civil manner…
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
My “crosschecking” joke falls completely flat & Swank continues with solid points.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Man, this guy has really thought his point out. And he’s stubborn. Nice.
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
If he can caveat, so can I!
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Getting to the end here…
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
We kept it civil til the end!
ConnorWilsonLAS SwankLax Box lacrosse tweets
Thank God I didn’t have to transcribe all that.

So now that you’ve had the chance to listen in on a heated but semi-intelligent box lacrosse conversation on twitter, what do you think?

Can poles improve by playing box lacrosse?  Should poles only play with a pole?  Is box lacrosse worth the investment for players who only care about field lacrosse?  Will caring about both make you a better overall player?  DYING to hear your thoughts LAS Nation!

Swanklax Cac to the cac
It’s an All-CAC Conversation


  1. SwankLax is dead wrong. Most bad habits are developed from being too dependent on the long stick and not position defense. The most important tools a defenseman has are his feet. Both onball and offball skills can be improved tremendously by practicing defense with a short stick or in some cases no stick at all. 

    • Of course your feet are the most important thing when playing defense, and of course lots of bad habits are formed by relying too much on your stick. However, fixing this bad habits doesn’t mean you should put down your pole and pick up a short stick because you are just as likely to return to those bad habits when you pick your pole back up. The best way to ensure those habits are gone for good is to break those habits with the pole in your hands.

      • My coach for outdoor had us play box lacrosse in the off season, it fixed so many bad habits that we all had, and with the good habits that we picked up we dominated in the field season and last season we got ranked #4 in california.

        • Wow!!! #4 in California? So, you guys sound pretty awesome. That means you’d be ranked, what, like in the bottom fourth of teams on LI or from MD?

          I don’t care what you did in high school lacrosse. Might as well brag about your accomplishments in youth lacrosse for all the weight it carries.

          • Not bragging just stating facts, box lacrosse is the reason we got there, I”m not gonna be an immature little brat about everything.

  2. i am a long pole and spent the past year in boston playing box with an awesome box league for the bbla and it by far makes you a better player. it teaches you to handle pressure and maintain the ball with nowhere to run. also helped out a lot on worrying about backpicks and screens. there is no way playing box doesn’t make you a better pole. footwork vision communication no way i completely disagree with swanklax

      • What about at GLE? Forcing a guy to inside roll to a coma slide? Do you really have your poles keep a cushion on guys coming around the cage? Sounds like a recipe for a shot from 4 and 7 through a screen to me, or a hold call from you locking a guy and impeding his movement with your stick.  Defending a wing dodge?  At some points and levels of the field, you will have to engage physically with your attackman… leaving a 3 ft cushion and harassing the guy does not work in all circumstances.  I feel like this is where the short stick and the box game helps the most.

        • Oh no you obviously close there and drive a guy under. I didn’t mean to say that you don’t jam a guy as a pole because you obviously do. But you also don’t do it as much as a SSDM does and you use it in a different way. A SSDM uses it as an offensive weapon, to actively disrupt a guy because he can’t throw very many solid checks with a shorty. A pole has a stick for that. The jam is used to dissuade a guy who tries to drive across your face in or to get topside. Knowing when and how to close space on your attackman (meaning when to engage him with your hands and when to give him a cushion and use your stick to disrupt him) is a huge part of position defense and is something you cannot learn by playing with a short stick.

  3. Back to the Goalie talk!   I strongly believe field goalies can benefit from the box style in at least 2 ways that I have noticed.  1. Outlet passes –   You get a lot of shots and with that comes a lot of opportunities to make different types of clearing passes.  Quick up and outs in traffic to a breaking player, short outlets to a wing, coming out of the goal to create a clear, etc..  #2.  Is not as obvious but here is my take.  Field goalies make saves with their sticks a majority of the time box goalies use their body a majority of the time.  How does that translate?  Field goalies that also play box will develop more creativity in their saves.  Example you fall for a fake high but the shooter shoots low, because you played box goalie you have seen more of these types of scenarios and you are able to make the leg or foot save.  Being a good athlete in the first place is important but the combination of the 2 positions will compliment each other.  Play Box!

  4. i disagree with swanklax (respectfully mind you,) im a high school llaxer, and our coach has always encouraged us on defense to get up in their face and shove them away or crush them with a body check than a simple slap poke combe, assuming we dont get beat of course. after playing with him for four years we learned to run up, break down, and then engage, and one of the crucial ways he made us learn this was giving us the “nub” or half of an attack stick, about a foot of pole. we learned to play with our feet and our body, much like a ssdm. then again i am from houston and about half of our players are first year football recruits so we dont have the stick skills that northeners have from playing since third grade. But we find it hard to argue with the number one defense in texas in goals allowed. Katylax

    • Your coach encouraged you to get up in their face? Sounds like he doesn’t know a whole lot about coaching 1 v 1 defense, regardless of how many goals your teams gave up in Texas high school lacrosse. When approaching a guy you break down with your feet first in a way that shades your body to being topside of the ballhandler, engage with a topside check (ideally a poke) and then drive him under if he tries to come across your face and get topside.

      • well keep in mind the majority of our starters were super athletes from the local highschool football power house. as we were usually the most athletic team on the field, his mind set was that if no one beat you 1 v1 then no one got past you as a team. and it did work because the jam that ssdm use really roughed up attackmen dodging from x or kept them out of the middle. eventually they just broke down amd wouldnt dodge. it may not work for everyone but for the football recruits we had it taught them the basics of the game and got them playable in enough time for them to be effective.

  5. Swank is wrong…
    Helps learn to be a better on and OFF ball player… learn the feel of lacrosse… poles rarely need two hands, ask Dom Starsia about that… any game > practice for player development…. if a pole doesn’t know how to use his hands with the ball or guarding the ball carrier he is useless…

  6. You guys have to determine whether you’re arguing the point from an American box lacrosse point or Canadian, (for the highschool level). Watching and playing both I can tell you that they are much different. And if I can say American box and Canadian box are different, then field and box are totally different. You are talking two different sports played with the same gear, mostly all different fundamentals, but some stuff could come over.

    To the point where you said you’ve never seen a Canadian switch hands, I can tell you that i didn’t get the opportunity to start off with field, born and bred box player. And as a box player, you do not cross that point position unless you have a really good reason; otherwise, you get good with your strong hand and stay on your side. Switching hands came new to us when most of us made the move to field for the winters. Ya, what 6-7 year old wanted to stand out in the cold in December playing field in Canada?

    Defensive stand point, you do not lose your man in box, do not ever lose your man ( Dont play a zone De…). Our box offensive was all picks, almost all Canadian teams play off just them. You have 2 defenders and 2 offensive players in the span of 6 ft, you better know how to TALK to your defender and communicate to know who’s goen where. If box has not taught me better footwork, it has taught me the value of communication.

    Lastly, to the point of goalies. I know of only one goalie who plays box and field goalie, and he just made U19 Team Canada as a field goalie. Generally box teams look for a big guy who can take up that tiny ass net, teach him not to move not a lot. Field you want the agile guy who can post to post if need be. But playing out in box and then goal in field teaches you the view point of the offender, and it has greatly helped my field goalie.

    Sorry Swank

    • You didn’t really refute anything I said, so no apology needed. I’m talking strictly from the perspective of a defender. Communication is just as vital and important in field as it is in box, so I don’t see how playing box enhances your communication in ways field lacrosse doesn’t. Put it this way: if you’re not communicating at all times in field, you are not communicating enough. Don’t see how box can encourage more communication than that.

      • “Nevermind the fact I’ve never seen a two-handed Canadian…”? You were ranting on the fact that box defense won’t help a pole. You’re talking will reach an all new level. Have you played in those gold medal games for box – in Canada? You’re talking summer weather, while packed in an arena, with a couple hundred fans. 60 minutes playing transition, the level of tiredness is un-describable. Those last 10 minutes in that 3rd period, you just want to play the best defense you’ve ever played, run the 30 seconds and get the hell off the floor. But we’ve been coached to talk on defense under those circumstances, and we do it, cause we know a talking defense will get us off that floor for a minute before we’re back out. Talking as a pole has nothing on that, you’re communication gets so much better from box, and I know it’s whats made me a better pole.

        • The quote was to touch yes you were talking about a two handed Canadian, i was just giving a reason, we’re working on it. And you were ranting about the wrong parts of defense, although its undetermined if it helps your footwork, i guarantee it helps your communication.

          • Better crease hands is all i can say it helps with, i’ve never seen a field player dip and dunk better than a box player. Some of the fastest hands you will ever meet are box players, but their offhand sometimes will lack. It’s kind of one over the other.

        • So talking in field isn’t “real” talking because we aren’t tired?
          Uhhhhhhhh. About that…

          Communication is VITAL in field and box alike. Playing one over another doesn’t represent a distinct advantage either way. To play lacrosse is to communicate effectively. No two ways about it.

          • The problem with most poles (besides footwork) is they dont talk, we’re talking at a highschool level, not college or pro. Box teaches you the value of talking, and it improves talking  for poles in field. It is vital in both, but I’m saying box teaches you it better than field, cause poles are barely ever under the circumstances that box players have to go through.

          • But box lacrosse teaches communication more efficiently because that is what the game is based on, play a box game and then take some time and think before you reply.

          • I’ve played box. 

            I’m not sure how you can possibly say that box teaches communication more efficiently given that it is equally vital to defensive success in both field and box. You’re the only moron here arguing that box is superior in teaching communication skills. I agreed it helps teach communication skills, but to suggest it is superior in teaching those communication skills is ridiculous and shows that you don’t understand the field game.

      • Hey Swank Lax,

        Have you every played box lacrosse, because if you have then u would know that it is a completely different game. I would keep going but basically   I would be paraphrasing what BClax16 said. In box lacrosse, in good box lacrosse you have to be talking every second, because in just one second a pick could be set and and a goal could be given to the other team. I play box lacrosse every summer up in Canada for a travel team and when field season starts up again you see how different the games really are. It feels like you aren’t even working that hard because it is such a slower game. Compared to field lax, box is tame. I’m talking from the perspective of a defender as well. So how many time have you played box lacrosse, legit box lacrosse?       

        • You clearly have an incomplete understanding of defense in field lacrosse or you would also be communicating every second when you are on defense in a field game. Congratulations on proving that you are a shitty defender.

          I’m not sure what you consider “legit” box but I have played box a handful of times. I also have watched my fair share of box and know enough about lacrosse and how it is taught to see that there are fewer overlaps in the defensive skill sets between the two games than we like to think.

          Have you ever played “legit” field lacrosse? 

          • Hey swank lax,

            There is probably a good reason as to why so many people think that your wrong. Why haven’t you responded yet to Elliottbender? He seems to know where it’s at. I can’t wait to see some more bitchy responses. Think before you reply.

  7. My OPINION — I play rec league box year round (have for years) and played college lax at the club level in the NCLL for Syracuse and currently MCLA for Oregon, and I have noticed defensemen who play box definitely have an enhanced ability to create and execute fast breaks, 3v2s, and other transition opportunities. They are more confident carrying the ball over half field and do not panic when under harassment. Seems their vision, composure, and decision-making has been groomed (my opinion) from the countless, repetitive numbers situations that present theirselves in rec league box games. 

    With that said, I can offer NO opinion on whether playing box with a shortstick improves a longpole’s ability to DEFEND an opposing team’s offense. 

      • I would, but I do not want to get into a rambling tangent with someone who is stubborn and locked into their opinion that box lacrosse does nothing for field lacrosse defenders. You are determined to persuade that box lacrosse holds no value for field lacrosse defenders. Yet you have not provided evidence that you have ever played box lacrosse that the same level you have played field. Which leads people to believe that you, one have never played an equivalent level of box lacrosse, or two played a box lacrosse or defense with a short stick at some point, briefly, and were not successful, thus finding no use for the exercise. I provided you with a simple example of someone who has played both box lacrosse and field lacrosse at the highest level and has excelled. He also accredits both versions of the sport for helping the other improving his game respectful.

        • Yes, because I argue my position, I must be locked into this opinion.

          And no, I was not unsuccessful at playing box. Once upon a time, I played midfield. My skills with a shorty have not diminished that much.

          If personal experience is a factor, how many of you have played field on a level that I have played it on? I’d rather leave personal qualifications out of it and take the argument on its merits, but if you want to have a dick-measuring contest, I’ll happily indulge you.

          • To be locked into an opinion is to not be open-minded, which goes against what you said above, how you were up for discussion on ways to improve a defensemen. You are denying every suggestion that involves a defensemen playing box lacrosse. Ask any professional box lacrosse player if playing box defense makes a difference in you outdoor defensive gameplay.

          • Again, because I argue, that must mean that I don’t consider anyone to have raised a good point?

            I think Dave Y made some excellent points, things I hadn’t thought of. familiarity with creating offensive transition situations would definitely be a benefit of playing box for a pole because you don’t get those opportunities as much in field.

            As far I’m concerned, the “ask a pro” argument is a non-starter. Pro lacrosse players are the elite of elite in our game. To use their experiences as typical of the sport is simply inaccurate.

          • Yeah, your right. Why credit evidence that provides a valid example for a debate on the opposing side. Maybe you have a problem because I used a Canadian example. There are plenty of american examples. One which you may be able to relate to is a former DIII player Kyle Hartzell. He was a great defender before, but has improved by leaps and bounds since playing box. Than again, you probably wont like this example either because he is a Salisbury grad.

          • I have a problem with it because it’s a weak argument. Pointing to one person or a small group of people and then saying that they are representative of a much larger pattern without any evidence doesn’t do anything for me. I have no problem with whether it is a Canadian or American example, so save your preconceived expectations for what my objections would be for someone else. American, Canadian, whatever…

          • You seem to be the only one who is arguing that box does nothing for field defenders. I am providing examples and evidence and so have others. You disqualify them because it is a sample set, of professional. But examples and evidence none the less. You have provided personal experience and hearsay stating that box serves no purpose. And by all means “dick-measur(e)” away. I am sure everyone is dying to hear your vast experience, which my shed some light on why you persist to refute others accounts and examples they have provided. Wether it be basketball, box lacrosse, or some other form of cross training, developing new learning curves and exposure to different teaching methods are a practice exercised in many sports, professions, and schools of thought. Congratulations on proving my 1st point in my second posts.

          • When did I provide a personal example? I have provided a theoretical argument about why I believe that box lacrosse isn’t particularly helpful for field defenders. Remember, this whole thing started out of someone saying that some high school kid was wasting his time by playing in a 7 v 7 indoor game with poles. There are obviously benefits that come from playing box lacrosse, or even basketball, for field lacrosse defensemen. My point was and has been that these benefits are not unique to box and that box possesses no increase in training benefit and perhaps can actually be detrimental in some ways. However, after reading Dave Y’s post, I see how getting reps playing offense in transition could be helpful to a pole for decision-making in field because while you can work on stick skills, you cannot replicate having significant situational experience. Box seems to be able to provide that experience to poles who can otherwise lack for sufficient opportunities to make mistakes and get comfortable making fast decisions in transition. I do maintain that on the defensive end, there is no benefit to playing box over field.

      • Brodie Merril. The #2 CTO pole in the nation Jordan Houtby (behind Karalunas), played box all his life until Jr year of highschool. Jason Noble from Cornell, played box all his life as well.. Nice coincidence that these guys have the best stick skills with a pole in the nation and they all played box.  
        Just saying, it increases their stick skills much more than just playing pole does.

  8. Hey swanklax,

    Please explain to me how current All American Chris Cudmore is doing so well playing for mars hill.

    I am a American who plays summer ball in the MSL and in no way does box defense not translate over to field. Let’s face it if you need a 6 foot pole to help with your footwork and positioning it’s probably off. What’s the most basic thing coaches will do if there players are getting beat 1 on 1…they simply have them drop their sticks and perform the drill again. Box lacrosse teaches the cross check as a check to contain and maintain a certain distance from the goal. They do not teach takeaways just simple contain defense because they know the defense will get the ball back in 30 seconds if they do there job.

    I could go to a much more in depth post but swank lax I hope you respond.

    • Swank lax,

      I’m waiting for an unintelligent response about how I’m a “shitty defender” or how much more knowledgeable about lacrosse you are than me.

      While your at it let’s see some credentials to back up your larger than life ego.


      • Sorry for the delay, hadn’t been on in a few days. 

        Yes, the most basic way to teach defensive positioning is to play without a stick. Think of this as learning the alphabet and basic sentence structure in English. This enables you to have some ability to communicate your ideas much in the same way playing defense without your stick will teach you the basics of footwork.

        However, once you master the basics of the language, you seek to express your thoughts in more nuanced and refined way. That means learning how to create sentences that flow together with multiple clauses and how to make use of sophisticated literary tools. Similarly, once you have learned the basics of defensive footwork, you must learn the more nuanced approach to take with your feet when playing 1 v 1 defense. To be an excellent defender, you need to learn to identify when to adjust your spacing as an on-ball defender. For example, when defending a ballcarrier at X, it is essential that you be able to read his intentions and adjust your spacing accordingly. If he is carrying behind but not driving the goal, you are best off with some separation between yourself and the ballcarrier to account for his ability to change direction on you. It is the cushion that provides you with the ability to recover when he changes direction. When the ballcarrier drives towards GLE, you are forced to close space and jam the ballcarrier to keep him from getting topside on you. When in the dodge you actually close and do this depends on the individual matchup in terms of tendencies as well as size and strength.

        Great defensemen do not merely keep their men from getting to the goal. They are disruptive to an offense, harassing a feeder, stymieing a dodger and doing whatever they can to take the initiative away from the offense. You want the offense to adjust to your presence, not the other way around. This doesn’t mean throwing crazy checks or putting the ball on the ground every two seconds but it does mean learning some very subtle techniques that can be the difference between being a good defenseman and an exceptional one. It is my belief that those techniques are best learned by playing as much defense as you can with your pole, and having someone who is able to give you feedback on those performances and help you to avoid the bad habits that plague a lot of young defensemen. You can learn some of the basics of defense from box (though they can also be learned from field), but if you wish to be a refined defender, you will need to log countless hours playing 1 v 1 defense with a longpole. The nuanced nature of defending with a longstick necessitates it. The pole is not there to help you with your positioning or footwork. It is there as a part of it, and your footwork and position should reflect the fact that you have such an advantage in stick length. If you approach 1 v 1 defense with a pole the same way you approach 1 v 1 defense with a short stick, you are wasting the benefits of having that extra length.

        Connor can vouch for my credentials, particularly in this area. That should be good enough for you.

          • Connor and Swank sorry but I am not impressed with your description of Swanks play.  

            Swank have you ever played true canadian based box lacrosse?  Not the shitty American version you can find at your local indoor hockey or soccer arena.  

            The reason top coaches in the NCAA are picking up canadians is because of the intensity level at which they play the game.  Most field players can not understand this level of play and have a hard time creating the sense of urgency that is needed to play the game the right way.  

            Why is team canada such a force in field and box lacrosse world games?

            Box lacrosse defense requires you to do all the things stated above but with no time to think or set up for it.  You do not have time to adjust your spacing or turn your body to face your defender.  You must constantly be pressuring the ball with cross checks and slap checks on the hands.  You must be able to properly communicate through a pick and roll and stop your offensive player from cutting through the middle because if he gets to the middle he’s probably getting the ball regardless of the space between you and him.  

            When you give a box defender a 6 foot pole and a slower pace to defend at he will float around the field and do his job effortlessly.

            Where the canadians fail is where we as Americans exceed.  They are not athletes nor do the majority of them follow our training methods.  This is why we may not be seeing as many canadian defenders in NCAA lacrosse yet. Most coaches want big, athletic defenders that move well.

            In order for us as Americans to catch up with canadians we must understand and be able to play both versions of the game.

            Swank moral of this long comment is DON”T KNOCK BOX WITHOUT PLAYING IT FIRST.
            This is a simple progression that will happen its just a matter of time.

  9. I had always played LSM but with a couple injuries and numbers problems I swithced to a SSDM/FOGO.. Now this season I am asked to move to straight D, there is no doubt I tend to go back to habits I used with a short stick trying to jam a guy or be right in on his hips.. I have lost my ability to use my biggest adavantage a 6ft pole. It will take time and practice but I think I will get it back..

    With that said, using the short stick and playing on the other side of the field has given me a little more of an inside on what an attackman will be reading and how the field looks to an O guy. Confidence has improved with the stick, I believe that I’ve always had decent stick skills but I have seen a major improvement in my ability to move the ball with a pole.

    Interesting argument and a good read for a player and future coach. Thanks