Looking to make your practices more efficient and effective? Wondering what it takes to get the most out of your players? Salisbury men’s head lacrosse coach Jim Berkman reveals seven practice tips and two essential drills that should pay major dividends for your program. Coach Berkman and his coaching staff have implemented these drills and tips with great success for more than 20 years. Last year, Salisbury captured its ninth NCAA Division III national championship.
Seven Goals of Practice
1) Have Fun – Salisbury’s style of practices reflect this. Aim to go out and enjoy yourselves each day so that you’ll want to come back the next.
2) Get Your Guys Excited to Come Back – Leave practice thinking you can’t wait to be back on the field tomorrow. To do that, players need to enjoy being out there, the developing relationships, the drills you run, and the style of play you implement to keep it fun.
3) Development and Improvement – Each day, Salisbury looks to set up numerous individual drills at the beginning of practice to help develop players into complete players. Whether it’s shooting, footwork, or stick skills, we want to see them improving their skills so they can become better players and a better team overall.
4) Intensity – Try to play hard all the time. Simulate game-like intensity in every practice. The only way for this to happen is if you are fit, playing a high-paced style, and moving quickly from one drill to the next with no down time.
5) Play Fast – The Seagulls look to play fast in every drill they do. A major goal is trying to move the ball and create a pace that opponents aren’t used to playing and to take teams out of their comfort zone. To do this in a game, you must do it every day and for 120 minutes in that two-hour practice segment.
6) Repetition – Practices should be game-like where players get numerous touches to repeat situations within the offensive or defensive game. This allows the players to improve and develop over the course of a season.
7) Develop a Core of Drills – For Salisbury, this has been in the works for more than 20 years. While this may be constantly modified and changed over the years, this core of drills should be known by every player to eliminate down time. When you go from one drill to the next, you don’t want to go more than 15 seconds by the time the next drill starts. To do that, players must know the drills and get to them quickly.
This team drill reinforces ground balls, rolling away from pressure, redirecting the ball, and keeping the stick to the outside. One at a time, players quickly scoop up the ground ball after it’s been rolled out from a coach. After picking it up, players sprint one direction before turning around and moving the opposite direction and passing to a teammate nearby or behind. Players need to be always looking up the field during a ground ball situation and find that outlet pass.
The Breakout Drill reinforces breaking out wide, redirecting passes, making accurate up and over passes, and cutting. It’s key to get to your spots on a save or any unsettled situation. We want the two bottom defenders to get wide, arc out looking for the ball (slightly behind the goal line), look up the field, redirect across the field, and then look to a third man up the field for the third pass. It’s key to get your players to the right spots on the field during unsettled situations or saves. If the redirect is done correctly, usually you have an easy clear up the opposite side of the field.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “30 Essential Practice Drills for Lacrosse” with Jim Berkman. To check out more practice drills, simply head over to our lacrosse library.