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John Danowski, Duke University Head Lacrosse Coach, reinforces the need for players to learn to shoot on the run. The technique that he teaches is designed to create separation between the shooter and the defender, in order to get off a shot.
How it Works: The drill begins with players approximately 5-7 yards above GLE. A player will pick up a ball and take only a few steps before jumping off their inside foot and shooting. Some might call the movement a “hitch” that is used to create separation from the defender.
Drill Tips: In this drill, continue to reinforce good shooting techniques that include getting the hands back and kissing the shoulder. Note that the shooters are aiming for the back third of the goal (or inside the far pipe), because a goalie would be protecting the near pipe.
The previous clip can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Shooting Technique & Drills for Championship Lacrosse.” To view the latest video selections on Skill Development, CLICK HERE.
Get a glimpse of John Danowski’s clearing system in this segment. The 2x NCAA Championship coach provides you with drills that focus on basics in a live clearing situation. Although appearing to be very basic, these drills teach numerous skills that can lead to winning at any level.
Player Movements: In the first part, the defense is breaking out or “banana cutting” to receive a pass. In the attack segment of this drill, the ball side attackman learns the skill of V cutting and pulling the defenseman AWAY from the area which the ball is coming toward. Move the X attack to the ball, as opposed to standing still and waiting for a pass. A quick pass attacking the backside completes the segment.
Drill Essentials: Ensure plenty of lacrosse balls are available for younger and lower skilled players. Using repetitions, muscle memory is created and lacrosse IQ is increased.
Drill Tips: Keys to observe are the goalies counting 3 seconds, the way the long sticks break out, watching the ball the whole way and the backpedal at the restraining line to “front” the ball. Also note the tempo of the goalie’s passes, which are hard low arc passes.
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.
Follow along as Duke University head men’s lacrosse coach John Danowski breaks down effective face-off strategies and ground ball tactics. Then watch as Coach Danowski takes to the field and leads his squad through several live ground ball drills that have become staples of the Blue Devil program.
Face-Off Strategies & Key Tactics
When we face off, the ultimate goal is to pick up the ball. We don’t care who gets credit, we simply want to pick it up and get possession. We can do so effectively by incorporating the following strategies:
The first thing we want to work on is boxing out. This is all about getting inside position, running hip to hip, and then hopefully coming up with the ball. The goal here is to keep our opposing wing player off our draw man to give him a chance to be successful. It’s also about trying to put ourselves in the best position to pick up a ground ball. It’s a simple concept where your body is in between the ball and your defender, but also one that’s very important.
Next, Duke lacrosse players (especially short sticks) are taught to switch hands. Make sure your players can pick up the ball with the right and left hands, which allows them to get inside position no matter what. When the ball is on the ground, it’s key that our short sticks read the situation, feel where the defender is, and then when he goes to pick it up, his body is immediately between the ball and opposing player. While Coach Danowski doesn’t teach the long poles to switch hands (as it’s tougher), if your kids can do it, they should do it.
When it comes to draw play, you can push the ball forward, clamp it, throw it behind to yourself, plus a variety of different techniques, but these are tactics to practice skeleton. At Duke, every player will practice this, regardless of position. That even includes goalies and defenders. It’s important that each person gets a feel for what the draw men are trying to accomplish.
This is a technique where attackmen must wait for the ball to cross the restraining line before they can go pick it up. For example, you might have to lift at the box and let the ball go past. Start by getting a wide base and solid body positioning. If the ball comes your way like this once a game and you can still get possession in the offensive box, that just might turn the game one way or another, especially if it’s close.
Drill 1 - For this first drill, players will run through the ground ball from the wing. One at a time, players will scoop it up and then dish it off. The goal here is to simulate getting off the wing and flying to the ball as hard as you can. Pick your head up and move it fast.
Drill 2 – With this one, two players will go at a time. One player will pick up the ground ball and then quickly dish off to a teammate who’s running in stride providing help and an outlet. The ground ball could be on either your left or right side (forcing you to use both hands effectively).
Drill 3 – Next up, the draw men will come down over the ball at their own pace. Push it forward and then go get it. While a certain number of players will do face-offs in game action, everyone needs to learn different technique for picking up ground balls. Remember to get low and bend over, concentrate, and go get it.
Coaching Points: These drills are incredibly important to what the Duke lacrosse team tries to accomplish every year. In fact, these three are some of the first drills the team starts with in the fall and spring practices.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD ”Aggressive Ground Ball Play” with John Danowski. To check out more skill development videos, simply visit our extensive lacrosse library.
In the latest edition of All-Access, we take you back to Durham, North Carolina for an exclusive look inside a Duke men’s lacrosse practice. Watch as head coach John Danowski leads his 2010 NCAA Championship team through a number of 1-on-1′s and other individual drills.
In this first drill, midfielders and defenders are working on the different angles of catching the ball. Players will break out over their shoulder right-handed. This drill replicates those game situations when you are defending the paint and are getting out on the transition break. Players must be able to turn and get up field as quickly as possible. The key: You want to be able to catch the ball on an angle you don’t handcuff yourself.
In review, the midfielders and defenders break out on an angle, turn their shoulder, and catch a pass while on the run. Meanwhile, a defender runs with them down the center and serves as an outlet in the middle of the field.
Two Down the Field
Players work in pairs and run down the length of the field passing back and forth to each other. Players must maintain proper spacing and run the entire time. If you throw it away, it’s okay, just stay with your teammate to retrieve it. Players should go down three times. Says Coach Danowski on this fundamentals and conditioning drill, “Go fast and do it right!”
Scrappin’ Exchanges Drill
In this live 1-on-1 drill, coaches will give players a secret signal about his approach. The defender must approach his opponent well and not let him get the ball. Meanwhile, the goal for the offensive player is to get the ball. Essentially, offensive players must work their tails off to get open and receive the pass while being defended in a 1-on-1 situation.