Whether you’re a new lacrosse lacrosse or a seasoned veteran, it’s critical to always create a blueprint for how to run your youth lacrosse practice. In our previous youth lacrosse feature, we highlighted many key tips and drills for a productive practice, focusing on crucial areas such as partner passing, stick drills, ground balls, shooting, and dodging.
This week’s feature focuses on 1-on-1 drills and then builds up to 2-on-2’s, 4-on-4’s, and a few motion drills that teach kids proper movement on the field. With Lambert (GA) coach Jason Breyo leading the way, be sure to pick up these essential drills, teaching points, and overall lacrosse tips for leading a youth practice at the U11 level.
1-on-1 lacrosse is a cornerstone of the team game. We’ll begin with a four corner 1-on-1 set up. Get the attack and defense at one end and the midfielders at the other end. Everyone will get a chance to play offense and defense. Also, you can finally incorporate a warmed-up goalie in these drills. Move clockwise with all segments on the field. Go back and forth down the field (almost in zigzags) and teach the defender to drop step. Offensively, your players can implement face dodges and other moves to try and get past the opposition.
Keep in mind that when teaching kids to play defense at this age, it’s often helpful to teach them about simulating basketball defense. Get into a good low position, stay on the balls of your feet, and have your feet be shoulder width apart.
Whether it’s with offensive sets or transition breaks, so much lacrosse at every level involves the 2-on-2 game. Next in the progression, we’ll have two midfielders and two defensive midfielders working together. Behind the cage, we’ll have two attackers and two simulated defenders working together as well.
When it comes to playing defense in a 2-on-2 setting, we like to demonstrate the principle of Ball-Me-Man. While the on-ball defender wants to force his opponent down the alley, the off-ball defender assumes a help position. Here, he can see the ball and his man. If the ball goes to his man, he can recover quickly. Then the former on-ball defender moves into help defense positioning. As for movement, at this age, we encourage movement of any kind, although picks and dodges are always an option. Also, really encourage kids to utilize the space behind the cage.
Next, get four midfielders, two attackers, and two defenders ready to go. Here, we’re teaching offense and defense in a 4-on-4 format. The key here is to get frequent ball movement by passing and cutting. Remember, there is no contact at the U11 level, and this helps develop stick skills and promotes safety. Therefore, it’s key for kids to move their feet and never stand around. Like with basketball, you can’t get open without moving your feet.
C-Curl or Banana Curl – The C-Curl is a great way to teach kids proper movement on the field. For instance, to get out of the way when picking up a ground ball, kids will often pick the ball up and run in a linear fashion. However, that will get you into trouble a lot and can lead to turnovers. Instead, teach kids to roll away from pressure and curl around to the side.
Start by rolling a ball out. The offensive player will scoop it up (with a trailer/defender on his back) and look to hit his outlet man in the drill. Once he scoops the ball, he should make a C-Curl to escape pressure and pass to an open teammate. Remember, curl out of pressure, roll, and hit the outlet man. Do not encourage picking up ground balls with one hand either.