Josh and I ended up spending about an hour and a half on Skype today, during his Thanksgiving break, while his girlfriend was waiting for him in the other room (thanks Josh!), talking lacrosse; we talked about everything from pockets to ACC lacrosse to coaching, and a lot of things in between. The most impressive part of our conversation was his undying thirst for knowledge, as well as his humble confidence.
I’d like to highlight a few bits from our conversation and give a quick video update from North Carolina.
JOSH DIONNE POCKET AND CONVO HIGHLIGHTS
What is awesome to hear from Josh is that he will admit that he’s still looking for that perfect pocket. While we spoke about this specific pocket for a bit, the larger conversation was in relation to how he wants to improve his game and how his pocket is playing a large role.
After passing and shooting around with his pocket, it seems as if he doesn’t play with a ton of “whip” (a term he does not like personally, as it is hard to define what that means exactly); he used a term “pull” that him and his fellow Duke teammate, Kyle Keenan, use, and I think I vibe with that term too. I think “whip” is a good term if you think about it in terms of the motion you need to make to get the ball out of a stick (snap your wrists more like using Indiana Jones’ whip), but “pull” is a better term when referring to what the ball actually does in the pocket (the ball gets pulled back by the mesh or shooting strings).
As most of you already know, Josh is known for his inside finishing, and, according to him, finishing is the easy part, while catching it inside is the hardest; from the horse’s mouth, “Finishing is the easy part; I just look past the goalie and think about the celebration.” Another strong message from Josh was that passing is of utmost importance in college lacrosse; if you can’t make crisp passes, you’ll never get the chance to get on the field to score goals. He believes the key to finding a good pocket is the balance between always maintaining your accuracy on passing, but chipping away at the things your pocket might lack like shooting speed and hold.
Right now, Josh is working on becoming more of an outside threat, and, for those of you who know anything about pockets and how to get more speed instantly, that means he is trying pockets with a bit more whip. Now, the reasons behind wanting to this are two-fold, but equal; the first is that he wants his presence on the field to have a ripple effect – meaning he wants to be a threat from farther out so he can create more space for his fellow teammates (this is something he learned on his own, before I mentioned in my post on awareness.) He also (and I concur) believes this is one of the hardest thing for younger players to realize: that their presence and what they do for the other players on their team means just as much as actually being a part of a scoring play (feeder or scorer).
The second reason deserves a sidebar. While on vacation visiting my parents in North Carolina, I was introduced to a 15 year old lacrosse player, Chase Poindexter, who is a Duke fan through and through. So, here I am talking with this kid about his pocket, having a catch with Josh’s head, letting him use and throw with it and am scheduled to Skype with Josh the next day to talk pockets and lacrosse – how #zenlax is that? After pulling Chase’s mesh out of his stick and teaching him all about stringing concepts and how to put his first pocket in, and knowing that I have a Skype call with Josh the next day, I asked Chase what the thing he wanted to know most about Josh; Chase said, “What is his main objective when stepping on the field?”
Josh’s second reason for wanting to improve his outside shooting, which is the same answer to Chase’s question: simply, to score. Scoring is his forte, as you very well may know, and that’s because he focuses on it, works on it and genuinely wants to score to help his team win. During our call, there was mention of shooting sessions lasting until 2 AM with other Duke teammates.
And, I’ll tell you what, after speaking with Josh about the style of play at Duke, yoga, perspectives on the game and numerous other topics, I think I may have found a guy and a team worth rooting for this season.