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In this week’s edition of All Access, we take you to Evanston, Illinois for a behind-the-scenes look at a Northwestern University women’s lacrosse practice. Follow along as head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller leads her squad through typical warm-ups and station drills designed to get a ton of repetitions and create game-like situations.
Thanks to an 8-6 come-from-behind win over Syracuse on May 27, the Wildcats won the 2012 NCAA Division I women’s national championship. The victory handed Northwestern its seventh championship in the last eight years. The program has tallied seven overall championships – which ranks second all-time. Maryland won 10 titles between 1986 and 2010.
With line passing, there are several stationary feeders lined up and spread out. Meanwhile, there’s a group of moving passers. These passers are continuously moving down the line, passing to each feeder and getting the pass back before moving on.
There’s constant movement and communication happening at all times. Each passer should call out the name of the appropriate receiver and hit them with a crisp pass. Players should always stay low with their shuffling and remain in good athletic positions.
Next, the players implement a one-handed catch, switch, and throw back with the other hand. At the sound of the whistle, players should work their way back the other direction and be sure to switch the hand they catch and throw with. This drill really works on strengthening your off hand.
In this three-cone drill, players will start out at the GLE and eventually get two feeds. Only two players (a shooter and passer) are working with each other at a time. The shooter will come around a cone set out about 7 yards in front of the goal. The passer must look to pass the ball nice and early. Shooters should receive the pass right when they reach the cone in order to make the turn, open up the body, and put the entire body into the shot.
After the shot, that same player will go around another cone set out about 11 yards (and slightly left of the cage) and catch and shoot. Once the shooter gets away two shots, the previous feeder will then turn into the shooter and begin with a lefty shot around the first cone and then finish with another lefty shot, this time after coming around the far right (11-yard) cone. As far as cone set-up, assemble them in a triangle formation starting at 7 yards and moving out to 11 yards on the right and left sides. Tip: Get your whole body into it and try to overemphasize the form.
In the middle of the field, cones are set up where players should make their dodge move. Often, players will just run by the cone. However, we really want players to make a strong move, drop the shoulders to the inside, really set up the defender, and make that split dodge and get your entire body into it. Get that defender off balance before you accelerate through and go for the pipe.
Finally, we finish up with an effective drill that focuses on free position attempts. Get a goalie in the cage. The drill participants on the far right will be sprinting on each free position rep. Meanwhile, we’ll also get two people playing defense (with one low and one at the hash) and one offensive player with possession.
At the whistle, the player with the ball will look to go hard at the cage with two defenders closing out on her. As this happens, the players on the far right work on sprints starting at the sound of the whistle. There’s a constant rotation among the players.
Tip: When you step up to that line, even though you’re tired, know what you’re going to do. You’ve got two legit defenders on you, take that extra second. Know your strategy and make a move.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Northwestern Lacrosse Practice with Kelly Amonte Hiller.” To check out the latest All Access videos in our lacrosse library, click here.
If you like this DVD, check out other items from Kelly Amonte Hiller:
Championship Productions would like to congratulate all the teams who qualified for the 2011 Women’s NCAA Lacrosse Tournament! Championship Productions is proud to say it has partnered with 2011 Women’s NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Coaches on various Lacrosse DVD projects. Learn the systems, tips, techniques, and drills that these outstanding coaches implemented within their programs…taking them to the top!
Navy (Cindy Timchal)
North Carolina (Ricky Fried)
Northwestern (Kelly Amonte Hiller)
Kelly Amonte Hiller and the powerhouse Northwestern women’s lacrosse program place a major emphasis on practicing basic lacrosse skills every day. It’s not only key to a team’s progress, but it’s especially important for young players so they develop and continue to get better.
One of those fundamental areas that needs repeated practice is shooting. With Hiller as your guide, check out these dynamic shooting tips and learn about the three types of shots that can pay major dividends for your team.
When it comes to shooting, there are six key areas to focus on and remember: Be sure to keep an angle on the stick, remember to drop the top hand, keep the head of the stick facing your target, have a loose grip but not too loose, wrists should be relaxed and flexible, and arms should always be away from your body. A dynamic player and shooter must also learn to play with both hands. This will help you become a double threat out on the field.
Most players think that they should aim for the corners of the net, but we need to add more to it in order to maximize the chances of scoring. When shooting for the corners, there’s a higher margin of error as many shots will go outside of the net. Instead, pick a spot 6-8 inches inside the net. This is still out of the goalie’s range and now the margin of error is still inside the net. Pick a target and drive the ball there. Remember, if you miss the net, you definitely won’t score.
This makes a big difference in terms of where you place your shots. Are they a righty or a lefty? If a righty, it’s best to place shots on the offside hip where the goalie has to carry her stick all the way around to make a tough save. Or consider going offside low. Remember to pick a spot and focus on it. Drive the ball right to it and follow through.
You may only get one, two or three shots in a game, so make them count. Be deceptive each time that you step up to the net.
3 Types of Shots
1) Inside Shot
An inside shot is difficult because of the limited room available to execute. Plus, there’s added pressure from the defense and goalie. Instead of taking a big torso twist to wind up, take more of a snap shot with just the wrists while keeping the stick close to the body. Sometimes, we recommend that shooters choke up with the bottom hands to provide maximum protection.
Remember that most goalies are taught to step out on these shots. Often, you will see players come around the crease and try to fire it by, but the goalie will make that save 9 out of 10 times. Therefore, with an inside shot, it’s key to remember to make a fake and move the goalie. Then, you can fake high and drive the ball low.
It’s common for players to rush and shoot quickly because of defensive pressure. But be sure to take an extra second to give a quick fake and drive it home. Head fakes and stick fakes will work frequently, but remember to keep the stick between your shoulders and you’ll know the ball will be protected.
2) Outside Shot
With an outside shot, it’s important to have some power, but not too much power or else you’ll lose control. Find that balance to have a controlled shot on net but with enough power to get it by the goalie.
Start with your feet to the side and your arms away from the body. Take a shuffle step, create torque by turning the hips first and then have the arms follow through. Drive the shot down. Your body will often naturally rise up, and so does the goalie. Therefore, drop your shoulders and drive the ball into the corner. If you’re missing the net a lot, check your form and make sure to take some steam off your shots so the ball goes in the net.
3) Shooting on the move
This is probably the easiest shot because deception is built in. But it’s the most difficult to be accurate and get on net. Here, your body movement is naturally deceptive for the goalie. The goalie must move with the shooter to take away the angle of the net. It’s helpful here to throw a stick fake to throw off the goalie’s body movement. Then place the ball on the offside of the body. The faster you move your feet, the faster the goalie must make an adjustment in the net. Here, you are using speed as your deception.
The following shooting tips can be seen on the Championship Productions’ video “Kelly Amonte Hiller’s Skills of a Champion: The Basics.” To check out our exclusive girls’ lacrosse catalog, click here.