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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.
Tufts head coach Mike Daly is a firm believer that increased face-off work in practice had a direct correlation to his team’s championship run in 2010.
This week you’ll get an exclusive chance to learn Daly’s face-off warm-up progression, an instrumental set of face-off drills that have paid dividends for his squad in recent seasons. Look to incorporate these effective drills in your own practices this year. Hopefully, you’ll see an improvement in your face-off winning percentage and overall transition game.
For Coach Daly and the Jumbos, this warm-up is a key part of their face-off routine. It starts with face-off basics and then moves into counters and more detailed progressions.
First up, after Coach Daly blows the whistle, players get into their face-off positions (squatting and head down), and go back and forth over the top of the ball with their stick head for up to 10 seconds. Take a short break and then the players repeat.
Next, it’s Moves vs. Air, which includes clamps, jams, and lasers. It all starts with a clamp move after the whistle. Then the players practice Jams vs. Air. This is where each face-off guy reaches out across the ball and jams his stick to prevent his opponent from getting to the ball. He can then easily funnel the ball in his direction thanks to key body positioning and effective stick placement. For Lasers vs. Air, there’s an immediate deflection of the ball with the stick and the player can play the ball to space.
For Dummy Partner, players are simply working on their moves against each other. The dummies provide some resistance and the goal is to get warmed up and go against some minimal resistance.
Finally, the players go live against each other. Competition is important here. If you win, you move up to the winner’s side. If you lose you go back to the loser’s side. You keep moving guys up until you have an ultimate winner. Overall, it’s great competition and something that the Tufts lacrosse team uses in practice and even on game day. It also incorporates toughness into every one of their reps.
Got any other face-off drills that you use in your own warm-up progression? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why they are so effective for you.
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.
In this week’s chalk talk segment, we’ll break down key offensive principles for high scoring attacks. Follow along as Virginia associate head coach and offensive coordinator Marc Van Arsdale runs through essential team principles, individual responsibilities, and off-ball responsibilities for an overall effective offense. By incorporating these tips and techniques, you’ll be able to put your players in the best position possible to be successful on the offensive end.
When we talk about team offense, we start with team principles. It doesn’t matter what set your team runs. These principles can be applied from the youth level and all the way up to the college game.
You want the entire field to be covered by the defense. For this example, we’ll attack out of a 2-3-1 set from the top. We’ve got two midfielders up top, a midfielder on the crease, and attackman on both wings, and one attackman behind the cage. This set up is balanced, spreads out the field, and allows you to maintain proper spacing on the field.
Note: With younger players, they have the tendency to crowd the ball. But we don’t want too many guys in one area. This makes it too easy for the defense to double team or prevent you from throwing passes to teammates.
We want to get the ball across the middle of the field and essentially use all four quadrants of the field. Every time the ball crosses a quadrant line, it changes which side is ballside and which side is weakside for defense, so it makes everything more complicated for defenses in terms of sliding. When it does cross that line, it’s a great time for re-dodges, cuts, seals, and feeds to the inside.
For instance, if the ball starts in the top left quadrant, the shot may generate somewhere on the bottom left side. We like the ball moving from the front to back and back to front. This makes defenders turn their heads. In lacrosse, there’s a fair amount of area behind the net to attack, so we want to occupy that space by moving the ball front to back and across the middle of the field. There are many ways to do that and hopefully find the weakside for a high-percentage scoring chance.
The key is that we want to be able to get the ball through to the backside.
This puts the short sticks into a sliding position and it reduces one of the long sticks that may be in one of the passing lanes. This means you are also putting the ball into the hands of your best players.
Within all of these concepts, there are many responsibilities for the individual.
The ball carrier has two options. First, they can make a hard penetrating move to the goal. Or second, they can move their feet to make a pass. With younger players, it’s important to remember to run while you are looking and look while you are running. Don’t stand still. Also, don’t catch the ball and then put your head down and charge. If you do this, you aren’t seeing the field. Remember, you are a dodger and passer at the same time.
First, you can prepare to clear space. Don’t crowd the ball carrier. Move your feet and create some space for the new ball carrier. Second, make a simple cut or prepare to make one, like a give and go. Third, pick away. If you are a midfielder up top, you can pick away for another midfielder. It creates space for teammates to move into. You can also pick for the crease man and create a chance for him.
Fourth, although it’s not recommended for younger players, you can pass the ball and be in a position to go pick for the ball. This way, you can work more of a two-man game (and this is becoming far more prevalent today as well). However, to do this, players need to have very good stick skills, otherwise it’s a bit dangerous to run at a younger level due to high turnover rates.
The first responsibility of an off-ball player is to make space for the ball carrier (like a backdoor cut). Don’t just stand there and call for the ball. Create some space so your teammate has the chance to attack the cage. It also forces the defense to make decisions as well.
Second, you can V-cut to receive the ball. Read the body language of the ball carrier. This will determine where to go from there.
For the crease player, his job is to maintain a relationship where he is away from the ball. This creates lanes for cutters and makes slides a bit longer. You can lengthen those slides as much as possible. Each time the ball moves, the crease player moves. It gives him the opportunity to read a slide. Look to find an open area and move away from where the slide is. Then back away into the open space to receive a pass and finish on the inside.
In this week’s edition of All Access, we take you back to Haverford, Pennsylvania for a behind-the-scenes look at a Haverford School boys’ lacrosse practice. Follow along as head coach John Nostrant leads his squad through a number of team pre-practice drills focusing on defensive fundamentals and 6-on-6 half field simulations.
We start things off with a few pre-practice drills on the defensive end. This opening blocking drill forces players to go 1-on-1 from behind the cage, but the offensive player does not have a stick. The objective for defenders is to use their stick skills and fundamentals to keep the offensive player from gaining certain areas and to force them away from the cage. Three cones are set out on each side of the goal (in the shape of an arc). These cones provide defenders with a guideline for where they should prevent the offensive player from moving.
Tips for Defenders: Do whatever you can to get around the cone and grab the ball. Find that leverage spot and get inside that offensive player’s glove. Don’t let the attacker get top side, either. To help with this, get your stick up field, placed on your man’s back, and wheel him around with the goal to get him back behind the GLE. As for the offensive guys, look to go around the cone and get top side.
In this slide progression series, we have an offensive player going up against a number of defensive players. As the offensive player makes a variety of moves, the defensive guys work on their slides based on where the offensive person goes. There are four designated spots, so make sure that players change spots each time. Also have the first two players start back-to-back to commence the drill.
At this point in practice, Haverford is looking to implement certain schemes in a half field setting to prepare for its upcoming games and the playoffs. The goal here is to throw in some different wrinkles defensively and offensively. First, the squad will go for about 10 minutes vs. man-to-man defense and then finish up with 5 or 10 minutes against the zone.
This is a prime opportunity for the offense to work on limiting turnovers, an area of concern for the team lately. A few minutes in, the team loses focus and is forced to run sprints. When they get back into things, Coach Nostrant reemphasizes handling the ball and passing and catching with authority — even when you’re getting tired.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Haverford Lacrosse Practice with John Nostrant.” To check out more videos in our All Access library, click here.