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In this week’s edition of All Access, we take you back to Denver, Colorado for a behind-the-scenes look at a University of Denver men’s lacrosse practice. Watch as legendary head coach Bill Tierney leads his squad through a variety of team drills in preparation for an early-season match-up.
This All Access session is an ideal way for coaches to see exactly how a top college lacrosse program prepares for opponents during the week. In this instance, Denver runs through a variety of pressure passing and transition drills centered on game-like situations and quick decision-making.
The goal here is to get some regular stickwork in but while under some pressure. Coach Tierney believes that the team must get better under pressure at practice in order for the squad to be successful in games. This particular drill moves up the entire length of the field with 1-on-1 pressure passing situations, from one group of players to the next.
In this drill, there’s one more player on offense than defense. The goal is to quickly move the ball around the perimeter and have the players keep their feet moving when throwing and catching the ball. Offensive guys are working on their pressure passing around the horn and needing to pass and catch with a tight defense on their heels. It’s also a great drill so that players can work on their footwork and stickwork skills.
With “Hoops“, a ball is thrown out onto the field and it’s initially a 2-on-2 fight for possession. The direction of play depends on which team scoops up the ground ball. Whichever team scoops up the ball, they immediately transition down the field and look for the quick score.
Although not entirely realistic, the drill simulates a 5-on-5 situation that starts with a ground ball fight. The offensive team is trying to push the ball and score, while the defense is looking to get set and recover on the transition break.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Denver Lacrosse Practice with Bill Tierney.” To check out our entire all access collection, visit our extensive lacrosse library. Don’t miss our latest edition featuring Haverford (PA) head coach John Nostrant.
In this week’s edition of Coaches Corner, learn more than a dozen top lacrosse drills submitted by some of the nation’s most renowned NCAA coaches. From the likes of NCAA Champions John Danowski, Bill Tierney and Jim Berkman, the coaches dish out their personal favorites, plus a few player preferences, as well. The drills were compiled from Coaches Corner Q&A’s over the 2010-2011 season. Be sure to read through and see if you can pick up some new drills for your practices this season.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one, but I like doing some of the simpler drills that break down our overall scheme — like 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 drills that are controlled. By doing these drills, we get to work on dodging, off-ball play, communication, ball movement and even spacing. They allow players to add-lib and be decision-makers on the field, whether it’s dodging, sliding or recovering. Plus, it teaches a lot of the fundamentals and basics that are important to work on frequently.”
“My favorite drill is Mechanics Progression, which deals with your elbows, shoulders and hands and really focuses on the fundamentals of the game. If you can’t catch and throw, you can’t do anything in this game. There’s nothing more important than that. It may be mundane to our players, but it’s absolutely the cornerstone of our program.”
“It’s not brain surgery here, but we like to put people in tight spaces, especially around the goal. We’ll go 3-on-2, 4-on-3 and 5-on-4 a lot, not necessarily 40-yard sprints, but around the goal and look to move the ball under pressure and make good decisions. It teaches the guys how to protect and stick handle and make quick passes in tight spaces. It’s teaches defenses how to slide and rotate and I think it makes them better overall when it comes to on the field during a game.”
“My favorite is the General Drill. It’s a 1-on-1 drill and there’s an off-ball defenseman and an off-ball offensive player. Imagine you have a feeder who’s not in the drill standing at the goal line extended to the goalie’s left and about 10 yards wide. He’ll throw a ball to the top center or right to an offensive player standing 14-15 yards from the goal and the defenseman is at the top of the crease. They are both waiting for the pass and when the ball is passed, it’s live. They have to play 1-on-1 now.
The offensive player looks to gets the ball in a wind-up position, catching it in his shooting stance and hopefully only has two steps to a shot. And now it’s decision-making time. Do I have to dodge? Can I just rip it? How should I stand off-ball, move off-ball and make a move? We can do lots of variations of this too, anything to re-create a defense that has sagged in on the backside and the ball is redirected and we are forced to create.”
“Well it goes back to the concept that defense wins titles. My favorite drills are ones that put the offense at an advantage and the defense at a disadvantage. One is a 7-on-6 drill where we insert another player into it after a 6-on-6 situation and we work on slides and rotations. There’s also the 656 drill, where the offense is out-manning the defense 6-on-5 until the defender gets back into play, and this simulates a slide technique.
Then there’s the red-white drill. We go up and down 5 vs. 4 and can add a man and make it 6 vs. 5 drill. It’s great for transition play, ball movement and skill development for offensive players. There’s also survival drills like 2-on-2 perimeter drills where we force the ball inside so that two defenders have to communicate and switch. The bottom line is that we like to run drills that will simulate what we do in the game.”
“It’s called the Shoot as Hard as You Can Drill. It’s an offensive drill and we use it during pre-game warm-ups and even run it three or four days a week in practice. We get the guys right out in front of the cage and we teach them how to shoot as hard as they can without worrying about where the ball goes. We try to get in a lot of reps, focus on keeping your hands back, your momentum going towards the shot and having the players fall into the crease.”
“We really love 4-on-4 drills. It gives us three slides in defensive packages. We can move people around and simulate our offense pretty well with four people and the kids get a feel for where they belong. Plus, we can work on spacing, picking off the ball and defensively who will be the first, second and third slide. We can get so much done and there’s less people to worry about and look at on a daily basis.”
“It’s called the Scrapping Drill. We run it at the beginning or end of practice with the emphasis on picking up ground balls and keeping focused while under pressure. We’ll get two teams together with a goalie in net and have two players going up against one. The team of two has to figure out how to score. It happens very fast and is over sometimes in three or four seconds. It’s a high-energy and high-tempo drill that gets the guys amped up and often has consequences at the end of practice for the losing team.”
See the Scrapping Drill in John Danowksi’s new DVD, All-Access Duke Lacrosse, Volume II: Individual Skills and Full Field Drills.
“It’s called Full-Field Scramble. It goes from 4-on-3 to 5-on-4 the other way and then 6-on-4 the other way and then finally 10-on-10. The guys like that one because of the transition components. It’s good for conditioning and then ends up being a full field situation where the kids must make good decisions. They also must learn to fast break, defend in the box, come down and make the appropriate cuts, and then defend 6-on-6 and clear on the other end. It forces guys to make a lot of different decisions and really enhances the lacrosse IQ.”
Stay tuned this season for more Q&A’s featuring some of the game’s top lacrosse coaches. Also, be sure to sign-up for our bi-weekly lacrosse eNewsletter “Inside the Crease.”
In this week’s edition of All-Access, we take you to Denver, Colorado for a behind-the-scenes look inside a University of Denver men’s lacrosse practice. Watch as legendary head coach Bill Tierney leads his squad through a variety of team drills in preparation for an early-season match-up.
Meanwhile, this week’s All-Access session is a terrific way for coaches, players and parents to see exactly how a top college lacrosse program prepares for opponents during the week. In this particular case, Denver runs through three different team drills that get players warmed up, working on a variety of skills, and best of all, keeping guys involved. Be sure to pick up some tips, insights and new drills from his exclusive look and look for ways to incorporate them with your own program.
The Denver men’s lacrosse team is most recently riding the coattails of a 15-3 season in 2010 where the team reached the NCAA Division I Final Four. Before the Pioneers upended No. 3 Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals, the team also defeated Villanova, Duke, and Loyola over the course of the campaign.
The Maze Drill is a full-field stickwork drill that gets everyone involved, warmed up, and moving up and down the field. Four lines are established with three players in each before the drill gets underway.
Players start with the right hand and then move to the left hand. The ball starts out in the corner. The first player throws to the opposite line and then follows to the end of that line. That player then takes the ball and throws a diagonal pass to the next line and he goes behind that line. Basically, every time you throw a pass, you follow and get behind that line. You follow a pattern of across, diagonal, across, diagonal, and so on. Then you can start a second ball and a third ball.
The Maze Drill is one of Coach Tierney’s all-time favorite team drills. Read more about this effective drill, and many others, in our recent article entitled, “Coaching Tips: Ways to Improve Your Team Practices.”
The Rapid Fire Drill is a 2-on-1 intensity drill that gets players going hard for a good five minutes. One guy is fighting to get possession of a ground ball from two other opponents. A coach will throw out the ground ball and it’s basically a battle for positioning. As for the two teammates, one player looks to box out the opposition so a teammate can scoop up the ground ball.
The Breakout Drill is a 6-on-6 simulation using a 45-second shot clock. As soon as there’s a shot, save, or turnover, the goalie corrals the ball, yells “Break”, and looks to ignite the transition break up field — and quickly. The team on offense should look for the transition opportunity, but if there’s nothing there, they can also set up their offensive set play and look to score off of that. Players should keep in mind the 45 seconds on the clock.
Denver used his drill to practice it’s transition game for an upcoming game against Syracuse, a team notorious for its ability to score on the break. According to Coach Tierney, “If we stop their transition game, we stop them.”
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All-Access Lacrosse Practice with Bill Tierney.” To check out more videos featuring Tierney coaching at Denver and Princeton, click here.