Looking to make your practices more efficient and effective? Wondering what it takes to get the most out of your players? Salisbury men’s head lacrosse coach Jim Berkman reveals seven practice tips and two essential drills that should pay major dividends for your program. Coach Berkman and his coaching staff have implemented these drills and tips with great success for more than 20 years. Last year, Salisbury captured its ninth NCAA Division III national championship.
1) Have Fun – Salisbury’s style of practices reflect this. Aim to go out and enjoy yourselves each day so that you’ll want to come back the next.
2) Get Your Guys Excited to Come Back – Leave practice thinking you can’t wait to be back on the field tomorrow. To do that, players need to enjoy being out there, the developing relationships, the drills you run, and the style of play you implement to keep it fun.
3) Development and Improvement – Each day, Salisbury looks to set up numerous individual drills at the beginning of practice to help develop players into complete players. Whether it’s shooting, footwork, or stick skills, we want to see them improving their skills so they can become better players and a better team overall.
4) Intensity – Try to play hard all the time. Simulate game-like intensity in every practice. The only way for this to happen is if you are fit, playing a high-paced style, and moving quickly from one drill to the next with no down time.
5) Play Fast – The Seagulls look to play fast in every drill they do. A major goal is trying to move the ball and create a pace that opponents aren’t used to playing and to take teams out of their comfort zone. To do this in a game, you must do it every day and for 120 minutes in that two-hour practice segment.
6) Repetition – Practices should be game-like where players get numerous touches to repeat situations within the offensive or defensive game. This allows the players to improve and develop over the course of a season.
7) Develop a Core of Drills – For Salisbury, this has been in the works for more than 20 years. While this may be constantly modified and changed over the years, this core of drills should be known by every player to eliminate down time. When you go from one drill to the next, you don’t want to go more than 15 seconds by the time the next drill starts. To do that, players must know the drills and get to them quickly.
This team drill reinforces ground balls, rolling away from pressure, redirecting the ball, and keeping the stick to the outside. One at a time, players quickly scoop up the ground ball after it’s been rolled out from a coach. After picking it up, players sprint one direction before turning around and moving the opposite direction and passing to a teammate nearby or behind. Players need to be always looking up the field during a ground ball situation and find that outlet pass.
The Breakout Drill reinforces breaking out wide, redirecting passes, making accurate up and over passes, and cutting. It’s key to get to your spots on a save or any unsettled situation. We want the two bottom defenders to get wide, arc out looking for the ball (slightly behind the goal line), look up the field, redirect across the field, and then look to a third man up the field for the third pass. It’s key to get your players to the right spots on the field during unsettled situations or saves. If the redirect is done correctly, usually you have an easy clear up the opposite side of the field.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “30 Essential Practice Drills for Lacrosse” with Jim Berkman. To check out more practice drills, simply head over to our lacrosse library.
By maintaining a quick pace at practices, the Salisbury men’s lacrosse team is able to be extra efficient in their drill work. Salisbury coach Jim Berkman also strategically builds his practices around relevant drills that focus on game-like situations and promote quick, mature decision-making.
Check out this collection of fast-paced drills used on a daily basis by the nine-time national champions. The drills will not only keep your payers moving and working hard during practice, but they will help your athletes play faster overall and improve their decision-making skills on the field.
With blind breaks, we are practicing 4-on-3 situations. The players won’t know where the extra man is coming from and they also start with their backs to the ball, so they must react accordingly.
We start with a semi-circle up top, whether they are offensive guys or long poles. On the whistle, all players will have their back to the ball before turning around, locating the ball, and getting to their spots, looking to disrupt the offense. Meanwhile, with the advantage, the offense will look for that cross-crease pass and score. The defense really must communicate here and locate where the ball is. Players will do three reps and then switch out.
Here, we are working on picks, slips, and communication in a 2-on-2 situation. We will start behind the net with the attack and defense. We are working on being patient and getting the ball to the island. Then there will be a pass and a pick. Defense needs to drive the offensive players down the alley. On the picks, make sure that your players get their feet set.
This time, we’re working on our slow break where we shift into our 1-4-1 and get a delayed trailer on the play. If we don’t get anything out of the 1-4-1 with a dodge, then we’ll look to go 6-on-6 live. On a save or score, the defensive guys will clear the ball up beyond the midfield line and the offense must ride.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Fast Paced Lacrosse Practice: Repetition, Intensity & Fun.” To check out additional drill-specific videos in our extensive lacrosse library, click here.
This week’s player development feature focuses on improving offensive output through a series of high-intensity shooting drills. Led by Salisbury men’s lacrosse coach Jim Berkman, the drills work on finishing inside, shooting in a tight situation, plus head, hands and stick fakes, and shooting on the run.
This is a terrific drill for attackmen as it forces players to always move their feet. Set up three goals right next to each other in a line. Assemble feeders in a box formation around this confined space, with one shooter on the crease. Meanwhile, this drill allows you to work on your hands, head fakes, stick fakes, scoring down low, and catching the ball tight on the crease.
Feeders will take turns passing to the shooter on the inside. Shooters should always be moving their feet and constantly moving. Really work on finishing the ball inside. Players should turn to the outside to catch the ball and always be communicating with their teammates on each pass.
This is part of our attack shooting series. Align a set of cones to the sides of the cage and two sets on opposite sides just behind the cage. One at a time, players will start straight behind the cage and make a dodge behind the net at one side of the cones. Players will then rolls the other way around and to the side of the cage. After one players goes one way, the next player in line goes the opposite way. It’s a quick drill, and players are constantly moving. Once they reach the next set of cones on the side of the cage, they should make an inside roll move and deliver a quick shot on net.
This drill is perfect for working on footwork, stickwork, and shooting in a tight space close to the net.
This shooting drill has a similar set up to the last drill. This time, we will have players make two quick change of direction moves behind the goal. Next, they will turn to the outside at the cones and deliver a “question mark” shot on net at the island (i.e.: where the cones are set up on the wings). If you’re wandering what a question mark shot is, you can compare it to a fadeaway power shot with a slight jump and is used to create power and separation from an opponent.
The Rocker Step Drill has the same setup as before. Start with two change of direction moves behind the net. Once players reach the side island, they will make a quick fake one way before delivering a quick shot on net the other way. It’s almost like a fast shoulder fake or head fake before the shot.
This one is similar to our inside roll before, but now we must use a line of cones at a 45 degree angle. These will direct us on where to roll and shoot. One at a time, players will sprint to the furthest outside cone, make their inside roll move, follow the line of cones in front of the cage, and deliver a quick shot. Make sure that you alternate sides that you shoot at. When starting out, players will sprint straight to a cone behind the net before making a quick deke move into one direction.
Finally, get three cages set up next to each other. Place two buckets out in front of the middle cage. In this drill, we are working on catching the ball inside, making one quick fake, and drilling the ball down off hip, or right into the corner. Players will first make a pass to a shooter before cutting and becoming shooters themselves. Players should move their feet while passing the ball before cutting hard around the buckets. Once around the buckets, players will receive the next pass and make a quick shot on net.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Create a Great Shooter and Individual Player” starring Jim Berkman. To learn about more shooting videos, check out our extensive lacrosse catalog.
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.”
One key component to a Salisbury men’s lacrosse practice is maintaining a fast pace. Salisbury coach Jim Berkman also strategically builds his practices around relevant drills that focus on game-like situations and promote quick, mature decision-making.
Check out these four fast-paced drills used on a daily basis by the defending national champions. The following drills will not only keep your payers moving and working hard during practice, but they will help your athletes play faster overall and improve their decision-making on the field.
This is a drill that Salisbury typically starts out practice with. It’s a passing and shooting drill at the same time and uses a condensed, packed-in field.
A coach up top will initiate the drill by rolling out a ground ball. Then, one offensive player will scoop up the ball quickly before initiating the 3-on-2 situation. This drill is also helpful for defenders with their sliding and “getting into the hole.” For Salisbury, this drill is done in place of most other teams’ typical ball drills.
On a 3-on-2 break, the goal is to get dunks, not three-pointers. Players are looking to get off that extra pass, get the ball off the ground quickly, take one cradle and get the ball out of the stick.
Once one group is finished with a repetition, the next group steps in immediately and the drill continues. There is no down time.
Here, we are simply adding one player to each team. This drill is great for practicing pressure situations and is overall a bit more realistic. All the while, defenders are working on their rotations and getting their sticks to the inside. For the offense, the goal is to get the ball off the ground with one cradle and then to the backside as quickly as possible. Another key is constant ball movement and making sure that players are always moving. Finally, players should look for that skip pass on the backside as well.
This is a drill that’s quite effective for middies. Salisbury works on its 1-on-1’s with an offensive player dodging from the top, the wings, and from behind the goal. Defensively, players are looking to squeeze their opponent down the sides and funnel them to the outside. It’s key for defenders to get the proper angles and to work on their footwork to not let the offensive player get to the middle.
The breakout drill really works on unsettled clears and team transitions up the field. First, players will circle around the cage until they hear the whistle. Then, a coach will roll out a ground ball somewhere around the cage. The defense then gets possession of the ball and makes the transition up the field while working on its clearing progressions. Once the team clears, they will transition to a set play offensively. Back on the other end, a new group gets ready for another unsettled situation.
The following drills can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Fast Paced Lacrosse Practice: Repetition, Intensity & Fun.” To check out additional drill-specific videos in our extensive lacrosse library, click here.