This material is from the Book "Why We Don't Call Plays" that is still under construction:

Strategic Thinking or Strategy many times is compared to preparing for and winning a courtroom contest where the preponderance of evidence leads to the correct conclusion.  Each side prepares their “strategy” for the result that they wish.   That strategy is usually called the;

                     “Theory of the Case”

 A “Theory of the Case” approach in enterprise strategy is similar to one for a law case in that it is the following of particular steps, garnering additional measurable assets (evidence) that allow for the presentation of the “case” that you are progressing toward the goals in your strategy (case).  A theory of the case is more than just the statement of the outcome and high level approach (e.g., alibi, insanity, self-defense for a legal case). The theory of the case is the plan for where you are going and how you will shape environment, team, players, staff and other factors to get you there.  It is your plan.

If you don’t know where you’re going, when you get there, you’ll be lost.

—Yogi Berra

For a lacrosse team, games are close, especially between good teams so sometimes at the individual game level the winning/losing outcome can depend on some factors that might be called luck.  Businesses and courts are full of “luck” too, but that doesn’t mean that excellent preparation, presentation and coordination isn’t the biggest factor in managing the “case” so that luck is not the determining factor.  For lacrosse teams this means preparing to win by 3-4 goal even against good opponents so that one “unlucky” play or foul or an “unlucky” injury to an important player doesn’t spoil the plan/outcome.

A good theory of the case (strategy) must

  • yield a logical, sellable story that the organization can rally around

  • be consistent with every piece of activity, goal or action around the team

  • lead to identified results

  • be be stated in very few words;

  • be understandable by all involved (players, administrators, coaches, parents, sponsors, fans)

  • be interesting (memorable/embracable by all)

It is a plan at multiple levels because there are multiple constituencies associated with a lacrosse program, team, season even an individual game.  And, most importantly, it is much more than a plan.  The theory of the case for high performance lacrosse and lacrosse programs, teams and seasons is an interplay of circumstances, relationships, thrusts and counterthrusts, players, structure, organization and inspiration that brings a team or program to be successful through a combination of, in the largest sense two concepts that are many times hard to get/keep in balance;

                       Talent and Teamwork

Lacrosse Philosophy - Lacrosse is the most dynamic of all the dynamic team sports (hockey, soccer and basketball) where the organization prepares the team to play and then only has minor opportunities to adjust the decisions, actions and performance of the players during the game.  It is a players’ game and, for me, the most surprising part is:

           I can’t remember, in my 40+ lacrosse years, two lacrosse games
           being much alike.
                                                                         -  Jon Weston, 2005

Or even two teams being the same if they play each other multiple times in one season.  That observation is intriguing and at the heart of “why we don’t call plays’.  It is because the complexities and interplay of lacrosse require that we prepare teams to play and then let them play to their best.  At the highest level most lacrosse coaches’ in-game inputs are inspirational not instructional.  That further supports the dynamism at the heart of the game.  

I have heard a phase from Native Americans that;

            Lacrosse is the Creator’s Game

It is easy to dismiss this as a mystical statement meaning the game came from God (I don’t dismiss it) .  It is a haunting phrase because , besides being a very high level human endeavor requiring all of our god given talents;

            Lacrosse belongs to the creative players supported by their compadres.

How teams develop this to the maximum extent of the individuals involved is how teams become great.   For example, when the very creative Mikey Powell (brother of the equally talented Casey and Ryan Powell) went to Syracuse University  he was told, reportedly;

We will roll the ball out there -  do what you want, we will take care of the rest.
                                  - John Desko, Syracuse Head Coach

That is how Coach Desko told his most creative player that he and the team will give him what is needed to support his creativity.  And, he did and they did.

So lacrosse strategy is about building the best environment/ structure/understanding and execution for the creative players and coaches to deliver games that involve, include, exploit and defend their compadres; the team. And you can build around it not matter what level program you are involved in.  You might try a more rigid philosophy of ‘plays’ but eventually, the other team will figure them out and counteract them.  This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of discipline and structure to successful team – after all, these are competitive contests dependent on full team cooperation at all times.  But, at the highest level it is the philosophy/concept that includes all and exploits their abilities in a team structure. 

What a game!!! 

If you think that I have gone over the edge with this, think it over and look again.  Everything you do to captivate the team, instruct and develop that is true to the above works and things that don’t, don’t.

Copyright Weston Lacrosse 2010