Essential Drills for Youth Lacrosse: The Passing Tree

An excellent drill for youth players, the “Passing Tree” involves a series of passing and catching drills to emphasize the importance of the top and bottom hands in lacrosse. It’s also a key drill used to reinforce the use of off-hands. Watch as former All-American midfielder Steven Brooks (Syracuse) and former Chicago Machine (MLL) head coach John Combs lead youth lacrosse players through this instrumental drill. Then look for ways you can incorporate the “Passing Tree” into your own practices this season.

The Passing Tree – One-Handed Part-Whole

Start by getting your players to partner up. We’ll begin by going one-handed part-whole. In other words, if I’m right-handed, my left hand is on the bottom of the stick and my right hand will be up towards the middle part of the stick.

Now remove your bottom hand. At this time, we just want to use one hand to produce a typical passing motion. It’s similar to throwing a baseball or football.

When it comes to the entire passing and catching motion, players will want to catch the ball with two hands, get the stick back, and then throw with one hand. Remember, your left foot should be leading forward with toes pointing towards the target. Also, stand in a “70-30” position and be up on your toes. Check out the video below to see the 70-30 position in action.

After about 10 reps, look to switch hands and then proceed with your left.

Passing Tree – Part II

Next up, we’ll move to the opposite of what we just did before. After using our top hand, we will now use our bottom hand. So remove the top hand and use your bottom hand to throw. You’ll also want to be throwing across your body.

The catching and throwing series goes like this: Catch the ball and shuffle your feet, let go of your top hand, and then flick your wrist. After a few minutes, switch hands.

Coaching Points: It’s vital that players learn to adapt with just one hand. The goal is to become dominant with both hands eventually. This is exactly the time (and age) to work on these areas and build the foundation of a highly-skilled lacrosse player.

Finally, we will finish things off by catching the ball with two hands, making a split, and then throwing with one hand. So if you catch lefty, you will then split, shuffle, and throw with one hand.

The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Fundamental Skills and Drills for Youth Lacrosse” with John Combs.” To check out our more videos in our youth lacrosse section, click here

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