The Long-Stick Midfielder (LSM) is a very exciting position in lacrosse that has been getting some pretty good attention the last few years, having big impacts in big games, and putting together some very nice highlights.
Some coaches will tell you your best athlete should be either your LSM or your Goalie. Having a fast, aggressive, athletic player that can get to the ball almost anywhere on the field can create some exciting turnovers and fast-paced, run-and-gun action going the other way.
These are not just your left-over Defenders. Inside Lacrosse called the LSM, "...a position that demands all the skills that make lacrosse exciting and packages it into the most badass player on the field," in this article from way back in 2010. Your LSM can shut down the other team's best Middie, take the ball away, pick off passes, and push the ball to the goal quickly. They have the instincts of a Midfielder. They are going to run past a few guys on the clear. They love Defense AND want to score goals.
Some people just don't understand how anybody on Defense could be a "game changer." That is, until you start paying attention to how the ball got down to the offense in the first place.
These guys are built like midfielders- tall, fast, athletic, great at winning ground balls. They range all the way to the goal and still get back on Defense before the play makes its way down the field. The longer stick allows the LSM to be more aggressive and pursue the ball farther around the field. They are also able to quickly get into position to help the other Defenders, crowding dodging lanes and getting their sticks up in the passing lanes.
Lots of coaches run their LSM off the field as soon as they gain possession. They don't want the risk of having a long pole handling the ball. But those coaches are taking away half of what this position is all about. Half! When one player disengages from the play moving down field and heads for the box, it kills the numbers advantage. Keep all your guys on the field and work the 4-on-3 Fast Break and the 5-on-4 Slow Break to the goal!
Even Close Defenders need to know how to run the ball up the field these days. You can't just park some beef cake on the crease to crush anybody that comes through the middle anymore. As a coach, your main goal should be developing athleticism and versatility, especially at the youth level. Specialization is for high school Varsity and College athletes.
CJ Costabile (Duke) is probably the single best example of the LSM knowing how to get the job done when you get the chance. He scored the game winner in OT in the 2010 NCAA National Championship against Notre Dame.
Joel White was a very good LSM at Syracuse a few years ago. He is a really good LSM in the MLL now.
If you want to find the players that can go get you the ball and take it all the way to the goal, take your Defenders, especially the fast ones, and run them through all your drills on both sides of the ball. Make them run the 4-on-3 Fast Breaks and the 5-on-4 Slow Breaks. Your LSM should hang around the top of the box when your team first gets the ball on Offense, then drift down to the Crease. Let them practice shooting. Let them run ground balls to the goal! Especially at the youth and even high school level, you will be in pretty good shape if you have a large pool of well-rounded athletes.
Definitely tell us if you find a good LSM on your team! Defense! Defense! Defense!