All Access Duke Lacrosse: Ball Handling and Transition Drills

In this week’s edition of All Access, we take you back to Durham, North Carolina for a behind-the-scenes look at a Duke University men’s lacrosse practice. Watch as head coach John Danowski leads his squad through a number of competitive drills, including ball handling, full field transition, and 4 v 4 half field drills.

Ball Handling

This first ball handling drill focuses on defenders only with no opposition. Players work on handling the ball in their typical positions and look to spread out in their own defensive end. The goal is to mimic typical passing situations in your own zone, improve on passing and catching (especially long outlets), and move the ball efficiently up the field.

Passes go from the goalie to each of the defenders and then up to the nearest midfielders around the midfield line. The drill forces players to change directions, make quick decisions, and work on key fundamentals such as catching, footwork, and passing. Notice that players are always moving with the ball and that quick, seamless transitions are made between groups.


Full Field Transition

The following transition drill starts with the coach rolling out a ground ball to the face-off players at midfield. The players fight for possession and the team that comes up with the ball transitions to offense.

A three second rule is implemented in the drill to promote quick decision-making, solid ball movement, and constant attacking at a rapid pace. If a player holds possession for more than three seconds, a whistle is called and that player must drop the ball at that spot. The closest player picks up the ball immediately (AKA a “free scholarship”) and starts up play for his side.


4-v-4 Competition

For this 4-on-4 half field drill, the team is now split into two groups, a white team and a black team. Each side takes turns going on offense. The goals are simple. The defense must make stops and offense must score goals.

Teams can tally a point by scoring. It’s a two-ball drill for each set of groups, meaning there’s two main possessions for each rotation. The balls initiate once behind the net and then once from up top. You can get two points for each group of four guys out on the field. Meanwhile, the defense needs to clear cleanly to get out of the drill.

This is a terrific team-wide drill that promotes competition while focusing on half field skills.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Duke Lacrosse Practice: Individual Skills & Full Field Drills – Volume II” with John Danowski. To check out more videos in our All Access collection, simply head over to our lacrosse library.

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