Each month, Lacrosse Magazine's "Your Edge" brings you tips from the best players in the game. In the April edition, Team USA middie and University Virginia All-American Courtney Swan, a forerunner of homegrown Florida lacrosse talent from national high school power Vero Beach, explains “the ponytail rule.” An extended explanation of the skill from the April edition follows below.


Get Open

You don’t necessarily have to go from a certain spot on the 8-meter. Just set it up in relation to the feeder and the goal. It’s the chemistry between you and your low attacker. You can know where they like to feed from, but it’s usually around the elbow.

I like to start on the second hash just as a personal preference so I can catch the ball and move the goalie, throwing a fake in before shooting instead of just coming straight on.

Learn how defenders’ minds work. Bait them. Act like you’re walking away and then make that sharp cut toward the cage. When you come down for a fast break and if the fast break isn’t there, you start the slow break. The defense starts to relax and thinks you’re going to settle the ball.

Look at your defender. It’s the ponytail rule. As soon as you see the back of her head, you want to take that first sharp step down to cage. That first step is really crucial to explode off of that and gain some separation from the defender.

Work the Timing

With your defender trailing behind, flash your stick up for the attacker down low to let her know you want to receive the ball.

Make sure that your feeder sees you before you start cutting so the timing works. Tell your other attacker where you want the ball. Usually she puts it a little high and you can just finish down low.

Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure no one else is in the middle so that you have a clear lane to goal once you catch the ball.

Catch and Score

First thing’s first. Catch the ball. That’s very important. Sometimes, we get too ahead of ourselves before we catch the ball.

Immediately turn your eyes to the goalie. She will be coming across the crease so you can either shoot back to that far-left post or you can continue and stick it in one of the low-right corners. See how far she steps, if she is trying to take a big step across the goal to compensate for that feed or if her head is still turning around.

Choke up your hands closer to the middle of your stick because it’s more of a finesse shot. Place the shot low in the opposite corner. When goalies turn around from a pass in the air, they’re going to go immediately high. Then there’s basically no chance of them saving it.

This is an awesome feeling because it’s a connection between you and your teammate. You’re on the same wavelength.

More “Your Edge” Videos

The Draw with Team USA’s Caitlyn Phipps


Team USA’s Ride with Kelly Rabil


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