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.
Former Johns Hopkins head coach and current UMBC coach Don Zimmerman has long been considered a mastermind of the extra man offense. With Zimmerman as your guide, learn how to prepare your team for special situations within a man up offense. First, Coach Zimmerman explains each situation via whiteboard diagrams before taking his team to the field for a live run-through.
According to Coach Zimmerman, it often feels like there’s more pressure on a unit when they are two men up versus just one man up. Players feel that they have to score and that there is no way that they will be denied with the huge advantage. However, Zimmerman doesn’t take that approach. He will force his teams to stay within their sets and move the ball like they normally do in man-up.
If a player is shut off, it’s key to take him out of the equation altogether. You should be satisfied going 5-on-4 versus getting him involved in that play.
Key: Stay consistent in your approach. This is far more effective than trying to make all kinds of adjustments if the defense does different things to try and throw you off.
This happens when there’s a one-minute penalty on the other team and you have an opportunity to get the ball right back and face it off. Because the other team is a man down, they will have to bring one of their attackers up on a wing. Now, we have an extra man. If the other team gets the ball, we designate our open man as the Double Man.
Here’s what happens: On a release call, all of our other players will shut off and we will funnel the ball into an area where our double man and the ball man can go ahead and double the ball. Coach Zimmerman has seen a lot of instances where the double is split and suddenly the other team scores a goal because the team wasn’t proficient at doubling the ball. It should be organized and practiced. That goal can be a huge momentum changer in a game.
Key: Take the time during practice to work on doubling the ball. Both players must be patient and work together to squeeze the man simultaneously. Remember, practice what you are going to use in the game.
This occurs when you have a turnover and the other team gets the ball. They will try to clear out a certain area in which to run it out. However, we will try to prevent that by putting two attack players on the ball in an effort to give it up. We must have two middies up field, one in front of the cage, and one attackman on the opposite wing of the ball. Now, we have options, like a three-way bump.
The goal here is to get the ball out of the opposing midfielder’s hands. We don’t want this player to run the ball up the field. Instead, we want to force them into a cross-field pass. While the ball is in flight, we can then make the proper adjustments.
Don’t forget there could be a long pass by the defense all the way up the field to take time off the clock. Therefore, our defenders must be topside of their attackmen. If there’s a ground ball, they can beat the attackmen to the ball. However, if the ball is thrown into the air, we teach our defenders not to play the ball, but to play the man. If the ball gets to within five yards, our goalie will yell CHECK and now our defenders will play the attackman’s arms. You don’t want a shifty attacker to check the defenseman. Then they will have the advantage going the other way.
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.
A team equipped with a dynamic extra man offense will have a considerable advantage on its opponent. Meanwhile, former Johns Hopkins head coach and current UMBC coach Don Zimmerman has long been considered a mastermind of the extra man offense. With Zimmerman as your guide, learn three different effective man-up formations that can give your team different looks and a number of opportunities to be successful. Each formation is unique, so be sure to see what works for you and your personnel before implementing on the lacrosse field.
Remember, each formation will yield different opportunities, so watch as Zimmerman diagrams each set before detailing key roles, movements and options for each player. Also, watch each set live in action through team simulations.
The main advantage of the 3-3 Formation is that all six of your players are in front of the goal. Each player is above the goal line extended and has the ability to shoot the ball. Ultimately, this puts a lot of pressure on the defense.
The key players here are the middle-man up top and the inside middle-man. The top middle-man should be your best all-around player. This player can shoot, feed and make good decisions. Meanwhile, your inside player must be excellent off the ball, can read the defense, knows how to get open, and can also finish with a goal at a high clip.
Keep in mind, there’s a difference between a shooter and a finisher. When a finisher receives the ball inside, you can count on a goal being scored. These players aren’t born, but these are normally the kids who take great pride in working inside. It’s a tough position because you draw a lot of checks and physical play. But if you work hard and focus on your shooting, you will have a lot of opportunities to score high percentage goals. And that’s the goal: trying to get the highest percentage shot that we possibly can.
Within the 3-3 formation, in past years, Zimmerman’s teams have used a right-hander on the right side if they are the best option for that position. This brings up the point of using your strengths. Zimmerman is a firm believe that a player should always work to use his strengths whenever he can. In this situation (where a lefty may be better suited to play on the right side), we have no problem using a right-handed player. Remember, don’t switch your stick over to the weaker hand to avoid pressure. Instead, adjust your body to give you room and some cushion in order to stay effective. That may be more difficult down closer to the goal, but you can still certainly get the job done from here.
In the 2-3-1 formation, the defense must turn its back to find the ball. If you have good work by your outside shooters to find the open lanes, you will certainly get some quality shots out of this set.
On the perimeter, it’s key to have excellent shooters. Meanwhile, the man behind the goal is considered the “QB” of the offense. Also, it’s important to have an above-average inside man, a player who is a terrific finisher.
In the 1-4-1 formation, you really want a strong shooter out in front. Like with the 2-3-1, the “QB” is behind the goal. Now, you have two players inside that are adept at getting open. All the while, the right and left wings can position themselves to get open or step up and take the open shot and finish.
Overall, as a coach, you need to decide what your team strengths are and then cater your sets based on personnel. For instance, if you have two really good outside shooters, then you probably want to go with the 2-3-1 set. If you have two strong inside players, then the 1-4-1 might be your best bet as you are equipped with a pair of skilled players in the most dangerous area of the field to score goals.
Utilize new drills, techniques, & philosophies from the 2011 NCAA Lacrosse Champions!
Dominic Starsia (University Virginia Head Coach)
Kelly Amonte Hiller (Northwestern University)
Jim Berkman (Salisbury University)
More championship instruction featuring the 2011 Final Four Participants: