Connor Martin will be releasing 30 videos over the coming weeks on how you can improve your game. The videos are 80% information and 20% total silliness, which makes them fun and useful… a killer combination! I spoke with Connor Martin about the videos, but our conversation quickly moved to how Mr. Martin would change the game of lacrosse, and he’s got some serious changes in mind. One game for ALL ages? That’s crazy talk, right?
If the lacrosse gods called you up on the old flip phone and told you that you could change the game of lacrosse, but only by switching up some rules, what would you do?
First off, that would be ridiculous if the Lacrosse Gods had to use a cell phone to get a hold of me, but I’ll happily entertain the idea. For the record, I strongly believe there is no better game on the planet than Lacrosse. But as with all things they can always be better and I think there are few easy ways to improve the game #ForTheKids (you’ll see this a lot). I truly think that with college, all the way down to youth lacrosse, they should use a shot clock, allow diving into the crease, bring in the 2 point line, and incorporate Bravehearts into regular season/tournament play. It’s possibly too much for elimination games, but just think of a Braveheart between Paul Rabil and Brodie Merrill! That would be gnarly…
When I got to the pro level all I thought in my first game was how ridiculously fun this was (minus the fact that there should be bravehearts). Why can’t we do it #ForTheKids? We do this in our summer tournament, the Boom Town Classic; the kids love it. You could even push it farther and get rid of the face off between every goal. Straight up pick the ball up out of the goal and go like basketball with the in-bounds pass. We do this in Boom Town’s shorter field 7v7 tournaments, and it creates way more reps and super fast-paced action. It’s excellent for the youth level where it’s all about getting kids reps.
As you mentioned above, you’ve seen these changes first hand in the MLL… what do you think this brand of lacrosse does for the professional level players?
I think the MLL rules are the best brand of lacrosse, but I also think most professional sports are ruined a bit by the fact that a huge part of the game is about individual match ups, so a lot of the team aspects at the highest level tend to get ignored. But the shot clock, as well as the 2 point line and dive shot, aren’t what make the MLL game different or sloppier from the “purer” Division 1 college game.
In my book, the rules are there to create some excitement, but the real reason a pro lacrosse game can turn into 1v1 round robin, and the offensive and defensive sets are not as tight and beautiful as some of the ones in college, is because a few simple reasons:
1. We practice together once on Friday before the game, if everyone makes it in on their flight.
2. Lineups are constantly changing so chemistry is hard to make happen with all the new faces. No line up consistency = high level pick up lacrosse.
3. Every guy on the team was most likely the best player on their college team. Therefore you’re gonna see some heavy individual performances.
4. Pro sports create a selfish environment based on individual performance. You can have a great team win, but you can go 0 for 7 on shots with a couple turnovers and not play the next 3 games until someone else screws up. That is where the majority of the ugly play in Pro lacrosse comes from in my opinion.
As good of teammates as we all want to be, the pro environment creates a “ME” culture. It’s hard to fight sometimes. For these reasons I think the awesome additions of the 2 point line, dive shot, and shot clock just add to the fun of the game and don’t really contribute to the problems of Pro Lacrosse. There are other factors, but these rule changes are not among them!
You also run a youth tournament with 2-pointers, a shot clock, and the dive shot. What was the reception like there?
People loved it. We run our summer tourney (the Boom Town Classic) in Boulder, CO and we’ve made a serious effort to make it the most fun tourney of the summer #ForTheKids. We decided to put in the 2 point line and 60 second shot clock last summer combined with slightly shorter fields. The result was ridiculously awesome. A few games were decided by two point goals. The shot clock created more reps for the offenses and also forced some amazing last second opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have. It just worked. It didn’t phase any of the teams or coaches. One team chose to never shoot the 2 bomb and they actually ended up winning the U17 elite division. Probably smarter that way.
Kids play basketball with 3 point lines, so why can’t lacrosse players? Obviously you work younger divisions up with the shot clock. Ignoring it til middle school or 6th grade is probably the way to do it. I would leave the 2 point line in #ForTheKids. Youth basketball is a great example because if the players are too little they just ignore the line and get close to the hoop to get their buckets.
What do you say to purists who think the field game is just fine as-is?
They are right. The game is fine as-is, so if we didn’t change the rules it would still be the most fun and inclusive sport in the world. I just think I’ve experienced the sport at its most fun level and I truly believe the integrity of the game is still upheld even when you add in 2 bombs, shot clocks, dive shots, and dare I say Bravehearts. I mean come on, soccer has shoot outs and so does hockey. Those are the most exciting things ever.
Where can the game go in the next ten years? How could these rule changes impact that direction?
I honestly feel like these rules changes are low hanging fruit. LEGALIZE THE DIVE! LEGALIZE THE 2 POINT BOMB! BRING IN THE SHOT CLOCK! I’m yelling because I’m excited.
Everyone and their mom knows the dive shot is more dangerous for the kid diving than anyone else. If you want our sport to grow and more kids to play we should push to make lacrosse even more fun than it already is. In my opinion these 3 rules are already proven to work, it’s not even an experiment anymore. Beautiful, high level lacrosse exists with these rules at any age level.