Hidden Ball Trick: Clever or Cheap?


Hidden Ball Trick: Clever or Cheap?Oh crap! Where’s the ball!?It was 2005 and I was just finishing up my first tournament as the head coach of a U-17 travel lacrosse team.  In our final game of the tournament we were all tied up with only a few minutes left to play.  Coming out of a time out, our opponent’s midfield and attack units both sprinted to the midfield line, placed the ball between them, and started frantically raking their sticks on the ground.  After a couple of seconds all six players stood up, began cradling, and sprinted towards the goal ready to shoot.  Naturally, our defense became frantic as they tried to figure out which player had the ball (damn white strings).

Luckily for us, the refs slammed our opponents with a failure to advance penalty, and the trick failed.  Apparently the group took a little too much time playing hot potato outside of the box.  We felt vindicated.  Of course the trick failed.  Karma would not allow such cheap tactics to be the deciding factor at the end of a close game.

Hidden Ball Trick: Is it a rule or an exception?

But is it a cheap trick, or is it clever deception?  More and more teams have begun to implement a form of the hidden ball trick in to their regular offense, to the point where defenses become suspicious any time two offensive players come anywhere near each other.  A quick google search brought me to this video, which suggests that some teams are dedicating significant practice time to the routine.

Despite the increasing regularity of the procedure, I am still not sold on its legitimacy.  If nothing else, I believe it takes away from other, more honorable aspects of the game.  Consider the photo at the top of this post, taken from an Inside Lacrosse article instructing players on the finer points of pulling off the hidden ball trick.  What, according to the article, is the key component to pulling this maneuver off?  Acting.  Yes, the success of this play depends not on whether or not a player is bigger, faster, stronger, or more agile, but whether or not the players involved have ever taken a class from the school’s drama teacher.

I anticipate that there will be plenty of readers out there who disagree with my assessment of this issue.  After all, one can argue that putting a dodge on your opponent is a form of acting.  You are trying to trick your opponent in to thinking you are going one way before cutting the opposite the direction.  Thank you…noted…  That said, I believe there is a difference between defeating your opponent and deceiving your opponent, and I would much rather walk away feeling as if my opponent were defeated.