Robert Morris head lacrosse coach Kenneth Davis firmly believes that performing shooting drills at game-speed is an effective way to replicate game situations, makes players more comfortable within the offense, keeps players loose and working on all aspects of their shot, plus gets the most out of players overall.
With Davis leading you through whiteboard discussion and on-field simulations, you’ll have the opportunity to read about each drill before watching them in action to see how they are carried out. Each drill is fit for players at nearly every level and easy to implement at your own practice with just a few adjustments. Hopefully, with a little practice, these speedy and effective drills will deliver results in practice and come game-time.
This drill has players starting out rather close to the cage. We’ll start with two opposing lines off to the right and left sides of the crease area. Only two players at a time will run the drill together. On one side, the role of the first player will be feeder, and he’ll start with the ball. On the opposite side we’ll have the shooter. The shooter will make a quick “V” cut and then sprint towards the front of the crease area before receiving a pass and then firing a quick shot on net.
As soon as the sequence is finished, the next two players step up quickly and then perform the drill like before: Feed, cut, and shoot. Coaches, be sure to pick a spot on cage and tell the players where you want them to specifically shoot. Always create a target.
This drill is optimal for small group work. Set things up with four lines around the perimeter plus one “inside” man. The inside man is always cutting. His job is to always get his shoulders square to the feeder, come to the ball and make curl moves and quick cuts to get open in the middle of the field. One at a time, get the players (or feeders) on the perimeter to pass to the inside man as he’s making his curl moves and cuts. The inside man will look to get off quick shots on goal before making another move and receiving the next pass.
Teams can get a lot of work and shots out of this drill. Plus, it really works players hard on the inside, gets them communicating, and has them changing planes on every shot. After the full sequence is over, get one guy on the perimeter to replace the inside man and continue the drill like before.
This drill fits many different offenses and can be tweaked to go with your own personal set. Three players at a time will run a single simulation of the drill. We’ll start with a line of players up top (facing the crease), plus one player to his left (middle guy) and one player out in front and slightly to the right. The player up top starts the drill with a quick dodge toward the cage. The middle guy will trail that player and the bottom player will move up a bit as well.
There are a lot of different options from here. The top guy can then curl back and throw it to the middle guy or make a pull-pass to the middle guy across the way. Or the middle guy could then pass it to the bottom guy just off the crease for a close-range shot. After the drill sequence is finished, the top player can replace the bottom guy and the bottom guy can replace the middle guy, making for the “Triangle Rotation.”
Teams can get a lot of repetitions and common game-situation looks. Remember, be sure that your stick drills always incorporate your own personal offense.
It remains true across every level of lacrosse that for a team to have lasting success, it must be proficient in the area of man-up offense. During these occasions when a team has a clear upper hand, it’s vital that they take advantage of the opportunity — and doing so often makes the difference between a win and a loss.
UMBC head coach Don Zimmerman is a firm believer in set-oriented man-up offenses over play-oriented ones. In a set-oriented offense, teams are running more of a freelance system. They will simply rely on playing the game, reacting and reading the defense. This philosophy — certainly suited for more experienced teams — gives the game to the players as they can then read the opposition and change sets as needed.
Meanwhile, in a play-oriented system, teams are essentially memorizing plays and having to execute them on the field. Certainly, this often gives a unit a better chance of being on the same page, and after practicing enough, the plays become second nature. However, teams that rely on plays are very scoutable by the opposition, and they may not have the flexibility to change those plays in a game.
With Zimmerman as your guide, take a look at the following extra-man offense drills and see how you can incorporate them at your next practice. With a set-oriented philosophy in mind, these drills are very effective at developing man-up units at every level, plus they also focus on repetition, situational lacrosse and building team chemistry.
Skip It Drill
In this man-up drill, we’re going to take the middle man out of equation and have players skip the ball to a non-adjacent player (in a 1-2-2 formation). We’ll also time the drill to see how many passes the players can make over the course of one minute.
The “Skip It Drill” is helpful because it really gets the players throwing the ball and making good decisions, but make sure that all passes are leading players to an advantageous spot. Throw the ball where you want a player to get it. Remember, a good feed is thrown to the area where you know the recipient of the pass will be the most successful.
Also, be sure that players are always communicating throughout these drills. Players should always be calling the person’s name that the ball is going to be thrown to. This gets the players talking and builds unity and trust amongst one another.
Tip: Be mindful that you should consider giving your top unit a little bit more leeway than perhaps over offensive players. Let the players know that you have confidence in them and that you will let them do certain things you wouldn’t let others normally do. This adds confidence to your unit.
Touch It Drill
Now, our inside player is live in this drill. Players should work the ball around and look to find the middle man inside. The key here is for the inside man to always be moving their feet and always be available. In other words, let the player with the ball know that you are ready for the pass. This is done through body language.
Meanwhile, one’s stick and head should be up and eyes wide open. The inside man needs to be sneaky, but at the same time, he must read the defense and find the open spots. This player must be a presence on the field and needs to be able to finish his/her shots.
Here, we’re going to have one player or coach shoot the ball from the outside. Additionally, we will have a goalie in net with his stick turned backwards. With the backwards stick, the ball will pop out for some rebounds and garbage opportunities.
This drill works with inside players to always stay alert, know where the ball is at all times, and when there’s a shot, they should be turning and getting ready for any kind of rebound. This is a terrific way to condition players to get low, pick up the ball and get rid of it with a wrist shot despite tight quarters.
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