UPDATED: Ryan Powell – Play Fast, Shot Clock Please!

Syracuse vs. Army men's lacrosse 16
Tim Desko, famous lacrosse man on Twitter!

Editor’s Note: As soon as we saw the latest Nike Lacrosse Spot, we knew we had to bring this article back up from the depths!  In the new Nike Lacrosse video below, Powell doesn’t advocate for a shot clock specifically, but he does advocate for the fastest game on two feet to remain just that.  The message is simple: You’re Either Fast, Or You’re Last.

Check out the new Nike spot, and let us know in the Comments Section if you like FAST lacrosse!!!!!  And check out Ryan’s original post from March of 2011 when the shot clock debate was raging on LaxAllStars.com!


What’s up LAS?

I realize I may be going against my fellow blogger Connor Wilson’s article that was posted yesterday about the Cuse’ vs. Hopkins game not being a bore. However, I must say I disagree CW!

Syracuse vs. Army men's lacrosse 16
Syracuse? In a boring game? NO. WAY.

In my opinion that was a boring game (not as bad as some this year), and there are some things that need to change with NCAA lacrosse. With lax finally getting the love that it deserves (over 100 games on TV!), the game needs to be more appealing to the mainstream audiences.

If I’m a lifetime lacrosse nut and I get bored by watching a 3-2 Loyola vs. Towson game on TV, what does the general public think?   Or, what do people think when they see a 6-5 final in the 2010 NCAA Championship game? I was there and the lacrosse vibe in Baltimore was as strong as ever, but the game was boring, and featured very little offense.

We need to keep the number of games on TV, and continue to add to the lineup each year. In order to do that I believe a shot clock needs to be added to the game. I’m sorry, it is not fun to watch a team throw the ball around the outside of the offensive zone for 3 to 4 minutes at a time.  Really, it’s not!

By the way, it is really cool that so many games are being televised.  As a lacrosse player, it is so rewarding to play the sport that you love on LIVE TV. I remember playing in the Final Four each season at Syracuse and how special it was to have those games televised nationally. Players, teams, universities, and the fans should feel great about the exposure the sport is currently getting.

So how do we keep the growth and excitement going for this booming sport? Ever since I finished up at SU, it seems as though there are new rules being added to the book every year. The newest rules being 30 seconds to clear the ball and players having to use a wider stick so the ball is on the ground more; both of these rules along with others in recent years are all being implemented to speed up the game. So why not a shot clock?

shot clock
What, no shot clock?

In my time at Syracuse, we didn’t need to worry about a shot clock because we played the game the way it should be played. Fastest game on two feet, right?! My style of play at SU set me up so nicely for life after college. Both the NLL and the MLL have a shot clock in place. It is a much more exciting game to watch. For what it worth, the NLL is the best lacrosse to watch on TV at this point in time. Fast paced, up and down action that doesn’t stop. Fifty shots on goal by each team, great stick skills, ball control, defense, etc. This could be the NCAA with the addition of a shot clock.

There are so many sick athletes currently playing the game at the college level; let us see how sick they really are. I don’t get excited about watching robots play the game. – “Ok guys, go out there and hold the ball for 3 minutes and then attack the cage with the x-2537-z play.” – Let the players play the game!

This is what I propose for the new shot clock rule in 2012:

Shot clock – 60 seconds. The shot clock starts after the ball has been advanced into the offensive zone (across the midline).

*please note, even if you make it 90 seconds it will be better than the rules today

– If the shot hits the post, goalie or there is a change of possession, the shot clock would reset.

– There would be no rule about keeping the ball in the box.

– There would be no requirements to touch the ball in the box.

– If the Shot clock runs out on a team with the ball, the other team is rewarded with the ball wherever the ball is at that time.

– 20 seconds to clear the ball out of the defensive end

Hold on, that’s not just it. While I have you here I think it would be good to add one more rule change – Bring back the dive!

lacrosse dive shot powell
Bring back the dive to college lax!

Although I think the ref made the correct call at the end of the SU vs. Hop game, I want a goal like that to count in the 2012 season. The big reason the NCAA Rules Committee had for implementing this rule was to keep the goalies safe. I must say, I have never seen a goalie hurt during a dive shot attempt. This is another way that we could improve the excitement level of the game.

With the addition of these two rules I believe that lacrosse would take another step forward to becoming a mainstream sport. Without them, who knows?

All I know is that I’m not watching a 6-2 (Notre Dame vs. Penn State) lacrosse game and enjoying it. Let’s get these rules implemented and make the game faster and more exciting to watch!!!


  1. I’ve never liked the idea of a shot clock in lacrosse.

    First, I thought that SU-JHU game was great. Both goalies were making great saves, the defense was playing really well; which isn’t to say the offense didn’t play well, the defense was just playing better. You could sense the emotion that was being poured into the game from both sides. I can say I wasn’t bored at all.

    What I can’t say is someone who isn’t a lacrosse fan who happened to turn to the game wasn’t bored, and maybe he was. The shot clock in the NLL works, but I don’t think it does in the MLL. I don’t watch many MLL games because there seems to be more of a focus in individual talent instead of team play. Setting up a play takes times, which you don’t have because of the shot clock. Watching someone score over and over again might be appealing to most American sport fans, but to a lacrosse purist, it’s a little boring.

    It’s important to grow our game, and seeing games on TV certainly does that; but we need to be careful about how much we change the game in order to grow it.

    • Very well said, Bill. I agree wholeheartedly. I’ll go a step further and say lacrosse shouldn’t sell out to attract TV viewers. The game is fine the way it is. To Ryan, I’m all for bringing back the dive, but I can see how the NCAA’s concerns for goalie safety are valid. While you may not be familiar with any incidents of goalies being hurt by a diving player, it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to envision it happening. Oh and lastly, there’s no way you typed that the ref made the correct call with a straight face. No way.

  2. I could get used to a 60 second shot clock. What I really don’t want to happen is complex team offensive systems to go the way of the Dodo simply because there isn’t enough time. I love the MLL but it’s frustrating at times to watch how much 1on1 dodging and unassisted goals there are – I know lack of practice time/cohesiveness is partially at fault here, but so is the fact that play is rushed due to the shot clock.

  3. They need to go back to the old faceoff rules of ‘down-whistle’. I understand wanting to end the FOS just laying on the ball, but the new rules are terrible. They’ve totally killed any opportunity to push the ball in transition, and explaining a guy what he did wrong after he violates a rule on the faceoff before blowing the whistle allows the wing players to sink down into a defensive position before the FOS can start to push the ball. As a team who dominates faceoffs, the way the new faceoff rules work kills transition, and in turn, goal scoring. For the rules committee wanting to “speed up the game” with taking out the touch rule, etc, the new faceoff rules kill it.

    Go back to down-whistle, and keep the “get it out” call, that’s all the faceoff needs.

  4. This is spot-on. I’m all for a 60 or 90 second shot clock, and there’s no doubt dive shots would help make the game more exciting. Not just on TV, but for the fans in attendance as well!

    Many NCAA (and MCLA) teams struggle with game attendance numbers, which can have a considerable impact on team budgets, and I think changes like this could also benefit those programs.

    More TV viewers, more casual fans at games, more athletes picking up lacrosse? Yes please!

  5. It’s not like every move implemented in pro lax has worked out well. The 2 point line is a great example of something that bores me to no end. I teach kids not to shoot from miles outside the line, then they watch the MLL and do the opposite. Adding a shot clock and bringing back the dive is yet another step towards turning lacrosse into basketball. For people wanting to preserve the strategy and skill of the team aspects of the game, forcing early shots and letting players torpedo towards the crease are more steps towards bastardizing the sport into something it isn’t.

    Coaches at the youth level are teaching their players ball movement, strategy and control. As a U13 coach I teach my players that they work as a team, they succeed as a team, and I do not reward selfish play or hotshot antics. While I understand the need for some flair on the field to draw in larger audiences, I disagree with letting the game dissolve into yet another forum for hot shots showing off.

    The real place to start when trying to have the sport exposed to more players is at the youth level in school. I’ve been working for a few years now, since I got into coaching my kids, to get the local public schools and some privates to pick up the sport in PE and have their kids come play our fall clinics. The more kids who play, the more people grow up understanding the sport, which leads to people understanding why things like ball movement and self control are so important in Lacrosse.

    Maybe a shot clock would be an acceptable fix for the short term, but lets keep our eyes on the real goal of expanding the audience of the sport through example. Players, especially pro and college players, should be out there as much as possible helping to instruct and grow a new audience of lacrosse players. There are still kids out there that answer “France” when I ask them who invented the sport. It’ll be mainstream when the kids are playing lax in the streets along with pickup basketball or stickball.

  6. I’m glad to see this question being raised and fleshed out here. I think there is something to be said for appreciating all aspects of how lacrosse is played, not just trying to jack up the amount of goals a team can put up. No, I’m not a defenseman or a goalie complaining because I never got the glory… I just don’t think we should be fundamentally changing the game in order to attract more casual fans. Lacrosse will never have the following the NBA, MLB or NFL have. That’s because lacrosse is not a pasttime enjoyed by millions. It’s too badass. We are all on this website debating this issue because we’ve actually played the sport, and we love it. I believe lacrosse’s television audience is made up of the same crowd. Those who play the sport, who have played the sport, or their girlfriends who are indulging them.

    I think growing the game is crucial – but that doesn’t mean selling out and trying to make the sport more appealing to those with short attention spans and no appreciation for the sport. I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching a D-middie shut down a dodger from up top, and force him down the alley. That’s good lacrosse. So who cares if the guy clicking through espnu during commercial breaks of CSI doesn’t find that captivating.

    Perfect example: Con Bro Chill. I really dislike what this guy is all about. I respect the fact that he wants to get young players amped up and quoting his one liners, but I dont think his antics are good for the sport. He’s all about being flashy, and that grabs your attention for a minute or two. But it doesn’t grow the game. I’d rather see a bunch of Jeremy Thompson protege’s – players who embrace all aspects of the game and can do it all.

    Let’s leave the shot clock and 2 point line to the MLL. I’m afraid trying to force the issue into college lax would only turn what I consider the highest and purest form of the game into a sideshow.

  7. I feel like if a shot clock was created, you’d want to have a longer time on it, like the 90 seconds you mentioned above. I definitely agree with how slow some games seem and how it completely retracts the idea of our sport as “the fastest game on two feet” but I feel like outdoor would need a little bit longer to set-up a good opportunity. 90 seconds would be perfect.

  8. Here’s a simple solution to making the game more exciting without implementing a shot clock: Do away with the off-set head. The off-set head has made take-away defenders an endangered species (extinct?). Take-away defenders cause loose balls. Loose balls lead to fast breaks. Fast breaks result in more goals.

      • Joel White, Jovan Miller, Jeremy Thompson? I saw plenty of takeaways by both Hopkins and Cuse defenders, as well as in the Genny-Fisher game I went to the other day…Cuse was working the double-team perfectly

        • The fact that we hold Miller and Thompson in such high regard only goes to prove my point. Two-way middies are the exception to the rule in today’s increasingly compartmentalized game.

          Joel White may be the best defenseman in the country, but he is not a take-defender compared to the likes of Petro and Haus and others from that era. FYI: JW only had 8 CT’s through the first 6 games of the 2011 season.

          Face the facts and take a look at the record books: there were more LBCs, CTs and GBs prior to the advent of the offset head.

          If you want to see for yourself, watch some the videos from the old NCAA Championships that are on Youtube — a bunch of excting, back-and-forth, high scoring affairs.

  9. When I coached last year, there were two dive attempts in two separate games that the goalies got injured – one of them had to leave the game and was on crutches for the season. As a goalie myself, those dives do come close and can be dangerous!

    But yes, we need a shot clock! The sport is just too specialized, thus slowing the game down, big time.

  10. A shot clock is needed – the dive I can take or leave.  Leave the equipment as is – I played in the 70’s in Nassau County when the Superlight 2 was a new invention (stiil have it) and I play (and coach) now with a 2012 Superlight head + marc mesh 20mm and there is no comparison – the modern equipment should stay.  Growing up on LI we hit hard and clean (shoulder -no stick -no crosscheck and never high or from behind) like football and played O & D like basketball – the coaches ran us like racehorses in/before/after practice and called some game formations to run motion around and maybe a time out play here and there but overall coaches were spectators on game day – the organized origins of the modern game involved constant up and down action with lots of clean hard contact (how can roughness be unnecessary in lacrosse?).  Middies played two ways like hockey lines (I remember playing large school teams like Sewanhaka who had endless lines of fresh racehorses to deal with – yeesh). Ryan is right – back a ways no shot clock was needed but the coaches (college and HS) have faced greater pressure to win – and to win within the current system may require stalling (it is legal and effective) make it illegal (actually not illegal but stupid to lose a shot opp) through the shot clock and watch coaches develop run and gun athletes and brand new (old?) systems to get up and down the field – then you will see what real lacrosse should look like on TV (Quint’s comments about not needing a shot clock in the Syracuse/VA game was in reference to about 2 back&forth minutes of play – not the entire game).