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Follow along with Colgate lacrosse coach Mike Murphy as he reveals two of his team’s favorite high-energy drills. During each segment, Coach Murphy provides insightful commentary as his players work through the drill at full speed. Meanwhile, expect a strong emphasis on fundamentals, quick decision making, and replicating game conditions.
Zip and Skip (Attack and Midfielder Drill)
Overview: It’s important that players are not afraid of throwing the ball away. Coaches will frequently catch players trying to aim passes and that’s just not good. Instead, focus on throwing the ball hard and getting the ball in and out of the stick as fast as possible. As an offensive unit, we want to be zipping the ball around the outside to keep one step ahead of any defense. Look to implement this drill to get the ball moving faster among offensive players.
Drill Set-up: Establish four lines that are well spread out. Have two lines start on the GLE but on opposite wings. The two others should be about 20 yards away and also on opposite sides of the field. Using two lacrosse balls at a time, make passes going around the horn from line to line. Look to go quicker and be sure to talk to each other throughout.
Points of Emphasis: The “Zip and Skip Drill” simulates moving the ball quickly on offense. The idea is that it’s a passing and shooting drill. For instance, we want to get our feet set while moving into the ball and get it moving in and out of our stick as fast as possible.
Remember, the faster you can move the ball on offense, the longer it takes for the defense to recover. This puts you into a terrific position to get goals, especially on the backside of the cage.
Apache Ground Ball Drill
Overview: The “Apache Drill” focuses on ground ball players working off two defenders. In this common scenario, how exactly do we recover back in offensively and defensively? This drill is also terrific in teaching your players to play with confidence in unsettled situations.
Drill Set-up: Get six defensive guys running in a circle and then six offensive guys opposite of them. One coach will roll out a ground ball somewhere on the field and then proceed to call out a player’s name. That player will immediately battle for the loose ball.
Meanwhile, send two defenders to the ball against that offensive guy. Offensively, make sure you’re getting to your proper spots on the field. Also, the player with the ball should have his proper support to make a pass. Le t the drill play out from here, either resulting in a shot, clear, or turnover.
Drill Tips: When you scoop up the ball offensively, look to attack off two passes. If the defense scoops it up, work on clearing the ball up field.
The previous drills can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “High Tempo, High Energy Practice Drills“ with Mike Murphy. Click here to check out a selection of our best-selling lacrosse videos featuring effective team practice drills.
In this month’s player development feature, pick up a variety of essential save techniques that will go a long way towards boosting the back end of your defense. With Syracuse coach Kevin Donahue as your guide, learn about goaltender tips and tricks that you can start implementing immediately with your own netminders.
Tips & Tricks: Goalie Save Techniques
Soft Top Hands – For effective goaltending, the overall emphasis should be placed on the top hand and having soft top hands. Don’t grab the stick with a death grip. This could come back to haunt goalies on rebounds. Therefore, your hands must be out and away from the body.
Hands Together – Another key is to use the bottom hand together WITH the top hand (versus having a dominant bottom hand). For example, if you go for saves using a dominant bottom hand, you may have a slower save reaction time or place too much emphasis in one area. Your hands also must be comfortable and relaxed.
Follow with the Feet – As for your feet, the key here is to make sure they are following the hands. Coach Donahue always tells his players that the hands move first but the feet follow. It’s essential that you follow with the feet.
Lateral Movement – In the past, coaches used to teach attacking the ball. However, this tactic stopped about 10 years ago. Quite simply, shooters are more accurate and faster, and we realized that most goalies weren’t getting to the corner pipe as much. This is why most feet movements now are lateral (or sideways).
Trail Leg Tips – In the video below, you will notice how the goalie brings his trail leg in right away. Young goalies might leave their trail leg behind. However, this opens up the five-hole and can make them off balance, especially on low shots. By bringing that trail leg, you create a “leg, stick, leg” wall.
Tips for Making Saves Down Low
When it comes to making saves down low, one of the biggest things that goaltenders do wrong is trying to catch the ball. This is not a habit you want your goalies to get accustomed to as a lot of bad things can happen.
For instance, the bottom hand often moves back behind the player and forces the shoulders to turn. Since the goalie is now sideways, it’s really easy for the ball to go in the goal in this position. Plus, if you try to “catch” the ball high, the stick gets particularly small. The biggest surface area is when the hands are out front and the shoulders are back.
On low saves, make sure the feet follow and be in the biggest possible position. It’s also important to get a proper angle with the stick on low shots so that the ball hits the stick and comes right back down. A bad angle could lead to shots rolling up on you and ultimately into the cage.
In this exclusive behind-the scenes-glimpse, we visit Evanston, Illinois for a look inside a Northwestern University women’s lacrosse practice. Watch as head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller leads her squad through a variety of team drills and situational segments, including “Double Teams and Recovery.”
Shuffling Partner Pass
In this first drill, players work in partners shuffling down the width of the field and passing back and forth about 5 yards apart. Hands are going as fast as possible and players are getting low on their footwork while not rushing.
Coaching Tip: Slow yourself down if you have to. This drill is mainly about hand speed.
Next up, players get into weak hand feeds and double fakes. One player in the duo will just be feeding and doing so only with their weak hand. Meanwhile, the other person will work with their strong hand. So the process has players getting a quick stick, throwing two fakes with a flat stick, and getting the ball right back to the feeder. Look to get rid of the ball very quickly. Also, notice how feeder passes happen immediately after receiving.
To finish up, players move into fakes with the weak hand before switching up overall roles.
Double Team and Recovery
In this segment, defenders must force the offensive player right or left. Once the offensive player makes her move against the defender, another nearby defender must slide and step up into the play. Communication is crucial between teammates here.
It’s important that help defenders take a good angle at the ball carriers stick and lock that player down in a double team. If the offensive player pulls out of that, the help defender must then recover as fast as she can back to her starting cone. This should all be at a sprint, not a casual jog. Also, after a rep, players should switch up positions.
While this is a small slide and recovery drill, players should really be focusing on the little things here, such as communication, timing, and angle of slides.
Coaching Tip: When approaching with that slide, make sure players get a good angle. Anticipate where the ball carrier is moving to and slide to her stick, not her hips (or else the player will run by you and you will pick your own teammate).
After a minute or two of drill work, the coaching staff huddles the team together to discuss how players are dropping their heads and giving up on the play when beat. According to Coach Amonte Hiller, that mentality will hurt them in games. Instead, players need to be relentless to the end. You CANNOT give in.
In this month’s team concepts feature, Duke men’s lacrosse coach John Danowski lays out his plan for an effective clearing game. Read along as the two-time NCAA champion coach covers the essential rules and philosophies that the Blue Devils implement to perform successful ball transition.
Two Clearing Rules to ALWAYS Keep in Mind
In the live clearing game, which is any time the ball is in play, the rules say we have 30 seconds to clear the ball and get the ball into our offensive box.
Rule No. 1 – So if we have 30 seconds, this tells us that we need to be poised and relaxed in the defensive end when clearing the ball.
Rule No. 2 – On the defensive half of the field, we have 7 players to clear the ball and the opponent has 6 to ride. Therefore, we have an extra man. Spacing becomes really important now.
4 More Essential Components of Clearing
Quick Strike – Any time we make a save or pick up a ground ball, our first priority is “Quick Strike” (AKA fast break or let’s get the ball out of here). Here we must become proficient at looking up the field, getting the ball moving, and getting the ball to streaking teammates heading up the field.
Maverick Clearing – If there are no quick strike opportunities, then what? Coach Danowski teaches the middies to come back to the ball. We call this “Maverick Clearing.” Always look to break back to the ball, demand the ball, catch it, and turn to the outside.
Determining Clears to Use – Next, if we cannot break back to the ball, what clear is appropriate for our opponent’s ride then? What pressure is our opponent giving us? Well, this is where it becomes important to read the opponent and then be able to react.
For instance, is it full field pressure you’re up against? Three-quarter field pressure? No pressure at all? You must have an answer to whatever pressure you see out there. But no matter what the opponent is doing, the fundamentals of clearing must exist.
Common Principles of Clearing – Finally, what are the common principles or fundamentals of clearing? Coach Danowski preaches this over and over again in practice.
First, it’s about spacing. You want to spread the field and not have too many players super close to each other. Spread the field and get as wide as you can and make the opponent cover a longer distance.
Second, we want to be able to pass and catch.
And third, clearing is all about fundamental movements for each space on the field. But do the players know what to do when they get to those spots? It’s important to keep it simple so players understand each other well on the field.
Limestone head lacrosse coach J.B. Clarke reveals one of his most effective drills for practicing high-tempo offense in game-like situations. Follow along as Coach Clarke breaks down the drill for you in the film room before heading out to the field for live action with his team.
In “Lines to the Goal”, each scenario consists of an odd-man situation favoring the offense. For instance, in 3 Lines to the Goal, it will be a 2-on-1 situation. In 5 Lines to the Goal, it will be a 3-on-2 situation; and so on. Meanwhile, Coach Clarke’s team will practice these drills from all over the field, whether it’s behind, up front, or the sides, so there’s a great opportunity for variation here.
You may also put restrictions on the drills as well. For instance, if you do 5 Lines from Behind, it would consist of three offensive lines and two defensive lines below the goal line. Look to put cones down about five yards above the goal line so that players can’t go higher than that in order to score.
Coaching Tip: Make sure your players practice drills running into position.
A coach will generally start each rep by throwing out a ground ball. Players should look to pick up the ball and move it quickly. Do not carry the ball.
The action begins with “5 Lines to the Goal from Behind.” Cones are set up so players don’t go too high and get out of position. Each rep goes quickly and coaches should aim to get their players through each rep fast and efficiently. The more reps you can get in, the better. A major key here is to make things happen fast.
In the video clip below, notice how many offensive and defensive fundamentals and principles are at play here, which makes it no surprise to see why this drill is so effective.
Player Tips: For the offensive players, make sure you always have your stick ready to score. Get creative and work on your give and gos and fakes. Also, don’t forget to look back to where the ball came from. This can lead to a high-percentage opportunity. Finally, with an offensive advantage, don’t be careless. Make fast but smart decisions out there.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Unsettled Drills for Up-Tempo Lacrosse.” To check out more videos featuring drills and up-tempo lacrosse, stop by our lacrosse library.