Limestone College head coach, J.B. Clarke, uses the “Clearing Stick Work” drill to make sure his team clears at least 90% of the balls they gather in the defensive half of the field. Being able to clear the ball with consistency will allow your team to have more chances to score on offense.
Drill Summary: Set up with a goalie in the net, three riders in the field, and three offensive players circling the net. On the whistle, the offensive players break out, with one heading up the field and the other two cutting toward the sideline to serve as outlets for the goalie. The goalie feeds the ball to one of the outlets and the offense reverses the ball once or twice before sending it up the field. While the offense passes the ball around, the riders guard the offense to provide a game-feel. After moving the ball past the midline, rotate new groups in.
Keys to the Drill:
1) Goalie communication and decision making.
2) Accurate passes.
Flipping and fake flipping the ball in the middle of the field can cause the defense to become confused, which is exactly what Lehigh University head coach Kevin Cassese aims to accomplish with the flip series. If players learn to execute the flip and fake flip with proper technique, it becomes extremely difficult to react to on defense.
Drill Summary: This is a two player drill. Players start about 20 yards apart in the middle of the field, facing upfield. One person begins the drill by throwing a ball to their partner, who simulates dodging and evading a defender before sweeping across the middle. Both players should cross over the middle of the field at about the same time, and the player with the ball subtly flips the ball to the other. The player who receives the flip splits to their outside hand and both players make it look like they have the ball. For the fake, instead of flipping the ball to the player, make a flipping motion, but have the player with the ball keep it instead of giving it up.
Keys to the Drill:
2) Sell the flip.
3) Evading defenders to get open.
Ann Elliott, head women’s coach at the University of Colorado, uses this shooting drill to teach her players to make a quick decision when shooting in front of the goal. In this drill, players will not only learn to shoot quicker, but also with more accuracy.
Drill Summary: A goalie begins in the net, the drilling player begins five yards in front of the net, and six players space out evenly with one ball each, 10 yards in front of the net. On the coach’s whistle, the first player with a ball feeds the drilling player, who must quickly face the net and attempt to sneak a ball past the goalie. Continue down the line, feeding balls to the drilling player until they’ve had six attempts. Set a time limit (coach Elliott recommends about 35 seconds) to prevent players from taking too long. Keep track of how many shots each player makes, then rotate.
Keys to the Drill:
1) Quick decisions.
2) Clean receptions.
3) Accurate shots.
4) Fake out the goalie.
Director of Team ONE lacrosse and former head coach of the Chicago Machine, John Combs, teaches his youth players a variety of skills at one time in the All-In-One drill. Players will learn to field ground balls, pass the ball, make J-turns and make over-the-shoulder passes.
Drill Summary: This is a three player drill. Begin with two players on the sideline with one player facing them, about 15 yards away. To begin, one player on the sideline rolls a ball out and the other sideline player must run out and scoop it up. After retrieving the ball, the player passes it to the third person in the drill. That player must then quickly return the ball to the person who just passed it to them, then run back toward the sideline before receiving a pass over their shoulder. Finally, the receiver passes back to the player on the sideline, who passes back to the thrower and the whole process is repeated.
Keys to the Drill:
1) Accurate throws.
2) Scooping ability.
3) Good cuts and turns.
4) Call out names on passes.
Coach Fran Fraschilla believes in really looking at defense in terms of preparation prior to the season, and making sure that drills are logical, progressive, and habitual. He also believes in the “Overload Principle,” where conditions are created within the drills that are harder for players than game situations. The ‘Switch Drill’ and ‘Change Drill’ are two drills that instill this principle and build communication and mental toughness for players.
The Switch drill is a variation of a drill made famous by Coach Bob Knight. Watch how Coach Fraschilla shows this as a drill that will promote a tremendous amount of talk defensively. The drill begins in a 4-on-4 Shell Drill setting. The offensive team will pass and cut until the coach makes a “Switch” call. At that point, the offensive puts the ball on the floor and the offense goes to defense, while the defense goes to offense. One restriction is that when you switch to defense, you cannot guard the man that was guarding you.
The Change Drill progresses from the Switch Drill, by working on defensive transition and building defense from the inside-out in a full-court setting. The Change Drill is run until the coach says “Change”, which initiates the offense going to defense and defense going to offense, but this time the players are changing ends.
Teaching Points: For the Switch Drill, this promotes a tremendous amount of communication and teamwork to get the ball stopped, and keep it out of the lane. And for the Change Drill, this forces talk amongst the players, and also for the new defensive team to sprint back to the paint and immediately build their defense out.