This week’s player development feature focuses on a variety of drills geared toward offensive lacrosse players and the improvement of their inside play.
It’s important that every team features elite inside players, or off-ball players. The skills of an off-ball player are always needed and are extremely valuable. A good inside player is typically savvy, has great hands, has great stick skills and has developed a knack for scoring goals. Also, these players play a big part in the outcome of lacrosse games as games are often won and lost at the hands of their inside players.
But before one becomes an elite off-ball player, they must develop their stickwork first. Led by Johns Hopkins assistant coach Bobby Benson, the following six drills focus on improving individual stick skills so that offensive players can catch and shoot at a very quick pace and take their game to the next level.
In this drill, two players will simply play catch with each other in place, but using proper techniques. The 2-Man Catch develops one’s general stickwork skills and works on having players deliver a quick release.
Keep in mind when conducting this drill, players should always turn their shoulders so they are pointing toward their throwing partner. The key here is to work on catching the ball behind the head so you can get off a good, quick release. You do not want to catch the ball in front of you. If you do, you can’t do as much in this position and you can’t simply play lacrosse. But with the ball behind you, you can play, shoot or pass quickly and it will help you score goals inside.
Remember, passes and feeds should be done right off the ear.
By adding a second ball, this drill picks up the pace and challenges players to go faster with catching and passing. Like the previous drill, there’s only two players working together here but with two balls now, so they have to push each other to go faster and faster. If there’s a bad pass, have the players move their feet to go catch it. Remember, players should keep one foot in front of the other when catching and passing, but remain stationary altogether.
In this drill, two players start out about 10 yards apart and run parallel to each other all the way down the length of the field while catching and passing. Players should go 60-75 yards down the field with one hand before returning in the other direction while using the opposite hand. Remember, look to catch the ball across the face and don’t reach out to catch it. Reaching out to catch the ball will only slow you down. Remember to minimize cradles to get a good quick release and be sure to work on both the right and left hands.
Now, by adding a second ball and running down the length of the field, all previous drill actions are working together. This drill really works on developing speed and playing on the move.
This drill features four players starting out in a box formation and standing on the hash marks of the field. Two players are just behind the goal on opposite wings and the other two players are out in front of the goal also on opposite wings. The ball starts out in one corner. Players will then throw the ball to each other around the horn, catching it behind their head and getting the ball in and out of their sticks as fast as possible. Players — while remaining stationary — keep going around the horn until the coach blows the whistle.
Here, we had a second ball to the drill in order to work at a quicker pace. Remember to move the feet in order to go and get the ball, but overall, players should remain stationary.