This week’s player development feature emphasizes ground ball skills and individual stickwork. The following drills will get your players a lot of touches on the ball, tons of repetitions, and should help them build a strong aerobic base. The drills are first diagrammed on the whiteboard and then carried out on the field by the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team.
Baseline Escape Drill
This drill replicates situations when you are getting pursued on a ground ball. It’s different than facing uncontested ground balls, as now you have some pressure from behind or the side. It’s also about being able to scoop and escape from a variety of different ways and then finding your teammate.
The four players involved are the Roller, Scooper, Chaser, and Baseline. Start this drill at the top of the box or midfield line. Get your roller up top and then the rest of the players almost stacked together.
The roller has all the balls. His job is to roll balls toward the scooper and to control the placement of balls (mixing it up quite a bit). The scooper’s job is to scoop the ball up, but he must feel the pressure behind. Then he must explode on the ball, listen to his baseline teammate, escape, get his hands free, and then throw a possession pass. Making that first pass after the pressure is really critical. Meanwhile, the relationship between the two is crucial to success and escape. The scooper often powers through it with communication from his baseline man (saying things like, “Roll right” or “Pressure on left hip”, etc.).
The baseline man is movable and vocal. The decision now is: Can I throw this ball without being checked? Can I throw it without having to pass through the chaser’s stick? If he can’t, look to split dodge or turn to elude the defense. Then it will be easier for the player to make the pass to the baseline man. The scooper now reads the chaser and can make jump cuts and backdoor cuts to get open.
Around the Clock Drill
Get a line of players ready to go. Next, get a coach with a ball and a stick, plus some spare balls back behind the players. “Around the Clock” is a rapid fire drill designed to get a lot of repetitions and touches.
Have the coach set up in the middle of the field by himself and with a ball. He will start by rolling out an uncontested ground ball towards the first player in line. This player will then come up with the goal to pick it up as fast as he can, move his feet, and get the ball back to the coach. The coach will adjust his position and then roll out another ground ball, this time to the next guy in line.
Like a clock, the coach will move all around the field, switching from the left to the right, or moving out in front or to the side. Players should get the ball in and out of their stick as fast as possible. The great thing about this drill is that it allows for creativity on the player’s part. Look to implement a variety of different stick skills and maneuvers, like goosing, rollaways, and more.
Tip: Get your hands in a good position on the stick. Your top hand should be at the top of stick and your bottom hand should be at the bottom of the stick. Come up with a nice cradle, get in a protect position, and quickly move the ball to the next open teammate.