Communication on the lacrosse battle field is very different from the practices of football, baseball and hockey. In fact, I would say it is a style all of its own.
The medicine game is very dynamic, which is a style of play foreign to most Americans. Countries outside the US popularly follow and participate in soccer, hockey, lacrosse and other constant-motion sports. American culture allows for and enjoys breakage in play to explain, analyze and take in the information being presented. In other words, after a football play, there are averages of two-three different camera angle replays along with narration of what happened by the hosts. In lacrosse, play is constant and does not allow for that time.
In that sense, the lack of play stoppage could be a major flaw in the growth of lacrosse. Hockey, basketball and lacrosse all move pretty consistently and therefore do not cater to newcomers as well as the other “American” sports.
In football, each team has a Quarterback to communicate on offense, and most often the Middle Linebacker commanding the defense. Each of their helmets contains an earpiece and microphone to allow for two-way talk between that player and the coach on the sidelines.
Baseball has coaches at first and third base, two in the dugout, one in the pitcher’s pen, and one upstairs in the “coaches’ room.” The four with presences on the field communicate with the pitcher and fielders on defense, and the base coaches signal runners on the bases.
Many would argue lacrosse is similar to hockey communication but I beg to differ. In hockey, the basic goal of communication is how five players and a goalie can move the puck as a team to get it into the goal. Plain and simple. Hockey players do not usually control the puck individually, but rather bump it around the ice to each other keeping it away from opponents.
Lacrosse is a hybrid sport, because the indoor and field styles both resemble hockey rinks to one degree or another. However, each lacrosse player controls the ball for more time (on average) than a hockey player possesses the puck, and lacrosse much less than football where each side of the field has stopped time to set a play, call audibles and observe the opponent’s set up; then get the ball to a main runner/receiver who carries it the rest of the way.
When it comes to lacrosse play, however, communication is vastly combined amongst multiple people. The coach will shout things to the players on the field, who all must respond and get in proper positions. From there, each offense and defense usually has a main communicator (offense from X, defense the crease defender).
That’s not to say that others cannot talk. In fact, the more shared amongst teammates on the field in lacrosse can more aptly assist them in their efforts. If the crease defender is pulled behind the cage, he can’t watch the opponent up top who is cutting to the cage.
Lacrosse uses more than verbal communication. Just like hand signals in all sports, teams will have their own exclamations: a pat on their helmet usually means they’re taking the ball. A stick in the air means they are open and/or cutting. The defense positions their sticks and bodies to not only prevent the opponent from moving certain directions, but that can also possibly hint at teammates to move or help.
Understanding both sides of the game is huge in basketball and lacrosse. By recognizing different defensive formations and rotations, offenders can call different plays and formations to expose defensive weaknesses. When defenders see certain offensive formations, they know how to position themselves and who to defend specifically.
Dynamic, unified and understood communication are essential to the medicine game. Maybe that is a reason or part of one that influences lacrosse as a medicine game: improved communication.
Less focus on the protection of a single entity/person and less face-to-face conversation means more team-unified understanding communication and more inter-technological translation.
Living in a changing world full of multiple communication technologies from cell phones, email and social media to advertisements, teamwork and face-to-face avenues, lacrosse is a true demonstration of how modern connections are changing, and how players (people) are adapting to those differences.