This week’s lacrosse fundamentals feature focuses on three progression drills that will train your players how to read defenses and improve their overall decision-making skills. These “small drills” are used without a goal/goalie and place an emphasis on improving fundamentals in compact situations.
Watch as Georgetown head women’s lacrosse coach Ricky Fried breaks down each drill through whiteboard diagrams before heading out to the field for live simulations. Fried has led the Hoyas to five NCAA tournament appearances and five Big East Conference Championships as head coach.
3 v 1 Progression Drill
This progression drill focuses on the attacker with the ball reading the defense and choosing where they can pass it. We’ll start with an attacker with possession on the top left. There will also be two attackers down low about 10 yards part from each other. We’ll put a defender in the middle of everyone. Then we’ll have one more attacker in the middle up top.
On the pass to the middle player, the defender must pick one side to defend. Next, the player with the ball will turn her head and read this defender and make the appropriate pass to the open attacker.
From the very onset, the attacker with the ball should know where she wants to pass the ball. But instead of just throwing it there, she must read the defense first and notice the defense peripherally to see where she’s going to pass the ball. We need to be quick decision makers here. Also, be sure to switch the drill from righty to lefty in order to work that off-hand.
3 v 2 Progression Drill
Now, we’ll add a second defender. On the pass from the left attacker to the middle attacker, one of the defenders must drop to the forward attacker. The other defender now must play one attacker or the other.
On offense, we’re receiving the pass, turning our head, using our hands and feet, and then reading the defender and making the appropriate pass. It’s key that you’re able to do this with both hands comfortably. Go three reps on each side. The defense should also change things up a bit each time so the attackers don’t go into a rhythm. The goal of the defense is to make it as hard as possible for the attackers along the way.
By adding another defender here, we are making the drill more realistic. Meanwhile, it’s key to be active with our head and play with a sense of urgency. Players on the outside must keep their stick up and be ready to go. Also, notice that all passes are direct passes. We aren’t lofting the ball to the person we’re throwing it to.
4 v 3 Progression Drill
Three defenders must mark an offensive player. In this case, the easy pass here is the diagonal across to X. Now, it’s all about how the defense covers from here. The general habit is that when the near defender comes to play you, you can always pass to the teammate whose defender left them to play you. But you also want to make sure that you are reading the opposite defender. That simple parallel pass is easy and not really giving you that much of an advantage.
When we get good at this, we can actually make the opposite middle defender move ourselves by looking at a fellow attacker to get the defender to move before skipping it through the middle.But we need to watch the defenders to see where our open teammates are. It’s like in football, as a quarterback doesn’t read his receivers. He knows exactly where they’re going to be. Instead, he must read the defense and that will tell him which receivers are open. It takes training and some muscle memory to have that habit — and this is a perfect drill in which to work on it.
This drill is even more realistic than the last one. Quicker decisions must be made and we need to go with our instincts. Don’t worry about being right or wrong. Learn from your mistakes and use that going forward. As you are receiving the ball, turn your hips and shoulders, read the defense and then make a decision. Have an idea of what you want to do with the ball as you are receiving it. Keep those hands back until you make a decision and then make the defense move.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Small Drills for Offensive Lacrosse Fundamentals” with Ricky Fried. Check out more skill development videos in our extensive lacrosse library by clicking here.