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North Carolina head women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy uses 3 v 2 drills every day during practice. These specific drills teach players the fundamentals of the game, put them in a competitive arena, force them to execute, and create an environment that is fun and creative. Check out these competitive and highly effective drills and look for ways to implement them into your own practice plan this season.
Pick a line on the field. Separate opposing teams into distinct jerseys. Place a coach in front of the players with a bunch of balls. The five players are all set up on the line. The coach will roll out a ball in front of the players and they are forced to use their skills to pick up a ground ball.
Players should focus on choking up on their sticks and boxing out. If the team with two players gets the ball, they must get out of the double team by making a good pass across the line they started from. If the team with three players gets the ball, they must make two passes before the ball comes back over the line.
Coach Levy runs this drill on a daily basis. Not only is it competitive and fun (keep score), but it also forces the kids to pick up ground balls under pressure and to make good passes to get out of the pressure, either man up or man down.
Note: The two-player team can choose to outlet to another player behind the line if their in-drill teammate isn’t open.
Coach Levy credits Virginia coach Dom Starsia for this drill. You’ve got three attackers on the baseline and they step into play. You’ve also got two defenders in front of the cage waiting for the players to step in and play. The ball starts with the middle line. This player must pass to either wing and then get the pass back. Once it gets passed back, both of the wing X’s must try to hit and stay at the elbow, but also must move to get up to these elbow positions. The player with the ball is in the middle and must read which defender will pick her up. For instance, maybe she works one side to go the opposite way. Perhaps the defense stays or maybe one defender will play her.
In this situation, if the defense switches, the defenders must communicate to see who will pick up the ball. Coach Levy encourages players and attackers to be aggressive. Remember, this is a shooting drill. We don’t want two or three passes here and moving the ball around too much. We want the players to be courageous, aggressive, and to make a hard move on cage.
As X moves around the crease to the right-hand side, she will be picked up by one of the defenders. We want her to be a threat but also to read the rotation of the defense. If she passes to a wing player that’s open, we want them to immediately attack the cage.
Note: The two wing players must maintain their space. The tendency is to crash the middle but that enables the defenders to play a small amount of space and guard two players. Wing players will create bigger slides for the defense by maintaining space.
In this situation, the attacker behind the cage must read the defenders, especially the one going to mark the ballside. We want to train the offense to recognize the defender that is on her but also the second defender who is sliding and where she is sliding to. This will leave the backside player open. We want the players to look backside for a cross-post feed. That open player can step into space and score an easy goal.
Defensively, the player on ball is really working on her movement around the crease, depending on which side the ball goes to. The off-ball defender is critical here. This player must communicate effectively and anticipate that next pass. Her recovery to that next pass is really important. We want to teach that as the backside defender slides, the front defender should take a higher angle so the only place for the attacker to go is down the line, which creates a lower shooting angle (and much better for the goalies to pick up).
Recap: This drill is very competitive, very fast moving, and trains attackers to read space and read the defense sliding. Also, it trains defenders to communicate and cover a lot of space in a limited amount of time.
In this week’s edition of All Access, we take you to Stony Brook, New York for a behind-the-scenes look at a Stony Brook University men’s lacrosse practice. Watch as former head coach Rick Sowell leads his squad through a number of team drills in preparation for the season opener – just two weeks away.
This All Access session presents a great opportunity for coaches and players to see exactly how a top college lacrosse program prepares for opponents during the week. In this example, Coach Sowell talks to his team in the locker room before reviewing game film from a previous contest. Eventually, the players take to the field and run through a variety of ground ball and shooting drills that mimic game-like situations and quick decision-making.
First, Coach Sowell talks with his squad about ways they can get to the fourth quarter and give themselves a chance to win every game. Concepts such as team defense, fundamentals, knowing your role, and establishing a gameplan are all discussed. Says Sowell, “Remember going forward, time and score matters. It must factor into everything we do. Playing your role is also important, especially when trying to set the game plan.”
Next, Sowell reviews video footage from a recent contest, focusing on defensive tactics. Specific player movements are detailed, including how they should react based on offensive passes and dodges.
After the locker room discussion, the team begins practice with a competitive 1-on-1 ground ball drill. Basically, it’s a fight for possession where players must scoop up the ground balls under major pressure. Once they scoop, the player with possession sprints back the other direction and tries to elude the defender. In this scoop and run drill, short sticks may end up going against long sticks. Players will start at a specified line before the coach rolls out a ball. Players can also work on their ground ball moves as well, such as boxing out the defender.
First, one after another, players move across the crease unloading inside shots on cage. This is an opportunity for players to really work on their hands, shooting close to the net, and overall accuracy in a tight space. It’s also a chance for players to practice different shots down low. For instance, changing planes when making a fake. This drill is a great way for players to get a lot of shots in a short amount of time.
Later on, players move into rapid fire shots. There are dozens of balls set on the ground in two areas at the point. One player scoops and passes across before a shooter dodges or carries and fires on net. This drill is a perfect way to get into shooting shape.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Lacrosse Practice with Rick Sowell.” To check out more videos in our All Access lineup, simple head over to our lacrosse catalog here.
In order for a player to take his or her game to the next level, it’s key that they become proficient in scooping ground balls. According to lacrosse legend and current Syracuse head women’s coach Gary Gait, the more efficient you are at picking up a ground ball, the more successful you will be as a player overall.
In this week’s skill development feature, follow along with Gait as he teaches the fundamentals of ground ball play. Then watch as the Hall of Famer leads his players through a series of shuttle drills designed to teach athletes how to play while on the move.
When you go in to attack a ground ball, it’s key to bend your legs and get nice and low to get after that ball. As you go and get the ball, aim just in front of it with the front of the stick. Meanwhile, take your hand and bring it down into more of a passing or shooting position so that you can reach out for the ball.
Next, be sure to bend the knees, get the stick back, push through the ball, and push that bottom hand down as you push through. As you push your hand down, it brings the ball back up and into your protection position.
Most times you are going after a ground ball against an opponent, so it’s important that you focus on a few specific things. Remember, it’s not just about getting to the ball first and being able to pick it up. Your opponent may be faster and could run by you and get in front.
First, you want to think about getting in front of your opponent and giving yourself the advantage to get the ball. To do this, consider aiming somewhere in between the ball and your opponent and get your opponent behind you. This gives you the advantage to come through and scoop up the ball because your opponent can’t check you from behind. Therefore, look to step off with your inside foot before you get to the ball and use the body as a shield.
Another technique is to actually move the ball in another direction that favors you. This way, you can put yourself in a position to be in front of the opponent and scoop up the ball.
We’ve practiced drills when standing still with a partner, but now we need to practice playing on the move. Get your stick up, call for the ball, turn and absorb the pass, catch the ball, pass it to the next player, and go behind in line. Start with the right hand before switching over to the left hand.
Now we are working on switching hands. As we move down the field, we will incorporate our body and some athleticsm into it. Instead of just switching hands, we are going to physically move our body, too. Catch the ball with the right hand, carry it, then plant with the right foot, drive the stick down, turn the body, step out to the left, and then make that next pass. Switching hands in this drill will help incorporate the body into dodging. Finally, switch to catching with left hand and switching to the right.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Gary Gait: Coaching Girls Lacrosse – Basic Stick Skills & Drills.” To check out more girls’ lacrosse videos in our extensive catalog, click here.