In this week’s edition of All Access, we take you to Evanston, Illinois for a behind-the-scenes look at a Northwestern University women’s lacrosse practice. Follow along as head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller leads her squad through typical warm-ups and station drills designed to get a ton of repetitions and create game-like situations.
Thanks to an 8-6 come-from-behind win over Syracuse on May 27, the Wildcats won the 2012 NCAA Division I women’s national championship. The victory handed Northwestern its seventh championship in the last eight years. The program has tallied seven overall championships – which ranks second all-time. Maryland won 10 titles between 1986 and 2010.
With line passing, there are several stationary feeders lined up and spread out. Meanwhile, there’s a group of moving passers. These passers are continuously moving down the line, passing to each feeder and getting the pass back before moving on.
There’s constant movement and communication happening at all times. Each passer should call out the name of the appropriate receiver and hit them with a crisp pass. Players should always stay low with their shuffling and remain in good athletic positions.
Next, the players implement a one-handed catch, switch, and throw back with the other hand. At the sound of the whistle, players should work their way back the other direction and be sure to switch the hand they catch and throw with. This drill really works on strengthening your off hand.
In this three-cone drill, players will start out at the GLE and eventually get two feeds. Only two players (a shooter and passer) are working with each other at a time. The shooter will come around a cone set out about 7 yards in front of the goal. The passer must look to pass the ball nice and early. Shooters should receive the pass right when they reach the cone in order to make the turn, open up the body, and put the entire body into the shot.
After the shot, that same player will go around another cone set out about 11 yards (and slightly left of the cage) and catch and shoot. Once the shooter gets away two shots, the previous feeder will then turn into the shooter and begin with a lefty shot around the first cone and then finish with another lefty shot, this time after coming around the far right (11-yard) cone. As far as cone set-up, assemble them in a triangle formation starting at 7 yards and moving out to 11 yards on the right and left sides. Tip: Get your whole body into it and try to overemphasize the form.
In the middle of the field, cones are set up where players should make their dodge move. Often, players will just run by the cone. However, we really want players to make a strong move, drop the shoulders to the inside, really set up the defender, and make that split dodge and get your entire body into it. Get that defender off balance before you accelerate through and go for the pipe.
Finally, we finish up with an effective drill that focuses on free position attempts. Get a goalie in the cage. The drill participants on the far right will be sprinting on each free position rep. Meanwhile, we’ll also get two people playing defense (with one low and one at the hash) and one offensive player with possession.
At the whistle, the player with the ball will look to go hard at the cage with two defenders closing out on her. As this happens, the players on the far right work on sprints starting at the sound of the whistle. There’s a constant rotation among the players.
Tip: When you step up to that line, even though you’re tired, know what you’re going to do. You’ve got two legit defenders on you, take that extra second. Know your strategy and make a move.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Northwestern Lacrosse Practice with Kelly Amonte Hiller.” To check out the latest All Access videos in our lacrosse library, click here.