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Use these three effective drills to help your team make strides when it comes to offensive fundamentals. Eight-time national championship coach Jim Berkman frequently implements the drills with Salisbury to replace ball drills and replicate offensive schemes. It’s also a great way to get in numerous reps, whether shooting, passing, or moving with the ball.
The first drill in the group focuses on offensive concepts when you are stepping opposite of a teammate dodging, looking for two quick passes to the backside, and then delivering an accurate shot on net.
At the same time, you can tweak the drill to implement movements that are familiar with your zone or man-to-man offense. The goal here is to practice those schemes, movements, and fundamentals, and get a ton of shots in. According to Coach Berkman, the more you practice getting the ball to the backside and moving it quickly, the better these repetitions get in games.
Coaching Points: This is also a terrific passing drill. Remember to pass the ball to the ear, make two quick feeds, and deliver a quality shot on cage.
Next, we’re adding a cross-crease pass to the repetition. In other words, you’re looking to go wing to wing on the skip pass. Make sure that players get all the way to the outside on their cuts.
Coaching Points: Make your drills more than one-dimensional. Look to find new ways to do things that reinforce your offensive shooting drills and passing. There’s no substitute for an abundance of shooting.
Finally, start things up top with a dodge. From here, the pass will go behind the net to a cutting X. Next, there’s a quick pass out in front to a crease teammate before this player shoots on net. This drill is ideal for working on inside shooting, cuts, and plays.
Coaching Points: Get the ball high to low and look to spin the ball faster than the defense can rotate.
Know of any more effective offensive drills that reinforce offensive fundamentals? What specific drill works best with your team? Share with fellow coaches below or e-mail us at email@example.com.
The previous drills can all be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Shooting Drills to Reinforce Offensive Concepts” featuring Jim Berkman. To check out more videos focusing on offensive concepts, click here.
Know of an effective lacrosse drill that really improves the performance of your team? Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and break down your favorite drill for us. Once all submissions have been made by the end of the week, the editors at Championship Productions will then review each one before compiling a feature article highlighting our readers’ best entries.
Of course, we don’t require you to write a three page submission or anything like that, but we do ask that you include some specifics like player positioning, movements, preferred options, equipment needed and the ultimate goals of the drill. In other words, the more information you can provide, the better. Also, be sure to include your name, team, drill name, organization, location and contact information with your submission.
Look for more details over the coming weeks regarding a posting date for the feature and stay tuned to see if your drill is included.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Now entering his fifth season as head coach of the Brown men’s lacrosse team, Lars Tiffany has compiled an impressive 38-20 overall record, notched an Ivy League Championship and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament. With Tiffany at the helm, the Bears have been a consistent force in Division I lacrosse. Even with competitive conference rivals Cornell and Princeton likely in the hunt this year, the bar is set high for Brown lacrosse once again in 2011.
In this week’s edition of Coaches Corner, Tiffany sits down with Championship Productions’ Editor Adam Warner and gives a full breakdown of his preseason practices, reveals his favorite all-time drill, and provides some practical advice for first time coaches and players.
Preseason begins February 1. Walk me through a typical Lars Tiffany preseason. What are the overall goals? What key concepts and philosophies are particularly stressed?
The first thing we do is define what it means to be a Brown lacrosse player. Even before we hit the field, we ask the players, “What does it mean to you? Who are we going to be?” We get the men to give us the answers. It could be work ethic, or physical responses or what will we do when a particular situation happens. We really try to define who we are before before we hit the field on February 1.
The first few weeks are more about fundamentals: shooting, passing, defense, and 1 on 1. We don’t want to jump too far into schemes and strategy until we can prove we are good lacrosse players, so then we know we can execute the game plan later.
Also, we don’t need to have the whole playbook memorized before games start up. We map out the first six weeks of the season on the board in my office and we figure out when we will go over rides, clears, and other areas. Some things may not get done until mid-March, and that’s okay. Brown lacrosse is typically a bit more complex with some of our slide schemes and offensive systems. We lean on complexity and intelligent decision-making, but first, we have to recognize that we are a fundamentally good lacrosse program.
Take me behind the scenes during the preseason. What are the coaches doing to prepare for each practice, upcoming scrimmages, and ultimately, the regular season?
We have two new assistants this season with Scott Dalgliesh and Kip Turner. We’re at a point where we’re still learning about each other. We’re spending time together talking about X’s and O’s, talking about philosophies, watching film and sometimes, not even Brown film. Recently, we attended a Brown-Quinnipiac basketball game together and watched from a defensive and offensive perspective. This is a learning year for the three of us and one where we can be more comfortable sharing ideas.
Can you provide readers with a breakdown of how a typical Brown practice is organized?
We start with a base of 12 minutes for shooting with the offense and defense doing stickwork, clearing, outlets and some scheme talk. It’s mostly active, but there is some talking involved as well. The next 12 minutes is the dynamic warm up, things like high knee exercises, skipping, and static stretching.
Now, we’re ready to be more physical and we go to stations. I love stations. Each coach will oversee a station and we’ll have the guys spend 4-5 minutes at each one. The first might focus on 1 v 1, another might be ground balls, and the other stickwork, keep away or 4 vs. 3 in a small area. Of course, we can do a variety of things with the stations and we change them up each time. Next up is typically a water break followed by stickwork drills. We do full-field drills where we emphasize player development and there’s 8 minutes of that.
In the second half of practice, we’re now just starting to do scheme-oriented things, transition drills with fast breaks and full field transition drills. It’s not always 6 vs 6, either. Sometimes it’s 4 vs. 4 actually — one with an offensive coach, and one with a defensive coach. And we’re doing 3 on 3 drills and working on slide packages as well. There’s 15 minutes of that.
Then there’s 40 minutes left of rides and clears and we go 6 vs. 6 at one end. After that, we scrimmage for 10-15 minutes. The key here is that we re-create decision-making in our drills — game-day decision making. You can do that in a small picture, like a 3 vs. 3 format, but sometimes you have to go to a 6 vs. 6 format because that’s what a game is like. We are a bit more structured than others and we try to stick to the plans by the minute.
How do you get your team in playing shape during the preseason? Walk me through some highlights of your conditioning program.
Right now it’s all about the legs and running. Interval training is very important. We often do fartleks, which is a Swedish term. For instance, we’ll run hard for two minutes and then do 30 second jogs. We try to create a constant variation of speeds. Another is a 300-yarder, but we go 25 yards 12 times. It’s about how quick can you do that with those 11 change of directions. That’s a big test for us. We time the players and they’re tested against each other.
Explain to young players why it’s important to be in the best shape you can possible be?
It’s all about injury prevention. I’ve been coaching for 20 years and the men who arrive out of shape to the first practices — and those first practices are grueling — are the one’s who get injured. They may be carrying too much weight, for instance, and so there’s additional stress on the joints and lots of shin splints. The body just isn’t prepared for the pounding.
Also, you want to know where your breath is coming from. You don’t want to have to worry about how much gas you have left in the tank. In college lacrosse, guys are at home for 40 days without us after final exams. Talk about trust and self motivation — it’s huge. While we run all year long and send the players packets with weight training info, the onus is on our men and we have to rely on them to get it done.
What’s a favorite drill of yours over the years?
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.
What’s a favorite drill of your players?
There’s one we do at the end of practice called the “3 v 2, 4 v 3, 5 v 4.” It starts 3 v 2 and the team with the advantage starts behind the goal. It starts out 3 v 2 and then something happens, a goal, a save or a turnover. After this, a new ball is thrown in at the top and two new guys enter, and now what was once a 3 v 2 is now a 4 v 3. The offensive turns into the defense and then something happens. After this, two more guys enter from behind the goal, and it’s 5 v 4. We keep score and the drill has evolved into some trash talking with no rules and we let the guys have fun and play loose.
Is there a specific play you’ve used over the years that’s been particularly effective?
I’m a big fan of the “Hidden Ball Trick”, or “Fake Flip Play.” Our attackmen will come together behind the goal, flip the ball in the air and you’re not quite sure whose stick it falls into. We do this in man-up. There’s less pressure and the guys can come together without getting banged and can create deception and the defense doesn’t quite know who has the ball.
We’ve scored some goals over the years using this. We always emphasize to the guys to carry out the fake. Keep on cradling. If just one guy falls for it, it still works. We practice that and have the guys come together and act a little “Hollywood.” It’s a fun play I’ve taken with me everywhere I’ve been.
As a Division I college coach, what do you look for most in recruits?
There are so many factors, but athleticism is No. 1. You have to be quick and athletic. It’s hard to be successful at Division I without athleticism — the speed of the game is so much faster. We are always looking for that.
But you just can’t be athletic, it’s more about stickwork, lacrosse IQ and savviness. Size is great, too, and probably third or fourth on the list. I’ve been successful having smaller men, so it’s not absolutely necessary.
Another big part that we can’t see sometimes is toughness and heart. That comes from talking to coaches and finding out if a particular player is someone that, during tough situations, steps up and takes the lead or is leading more towards negativity. A positive attitude is key.
What’s some of the best advice you can give to a new coach, whether at the youth, middle or high school level?
Stay positive. Be a positive coach. Think about the coaches you played for and have enjoyed playing for and you probably think of the coach who was tough but positive and fun.
Enjoy it. Externally, push the men and have big expectations that the team will get better. Internally, keep your expectations low. Remember, it’s not the national championship. There’s nothing that big at stake. The mission is to develop young men and help them be better athletes, but also better people, too. As a coach, you have a huge role in that. You have earned respect early on, and you either lose it or keep earning it.
Don’t lose sight in the fact that you can mold behavior, things like proper etiquette, competitiveness and doing the right thing. For the new coaches, do the research and become a lacrosse aficionado and learn the game. Be a positive force, a hurricane of positivity so that the kids will want to come back to practice each day.
What’s some of the best advice you can give to a rising player, whether at the youth, middle or high school level?
Don’t specialize. Play all the sports you want to. You will be a better all-around athlete playing those sports. Lacrosse-wise, continue to push yourself. Also, it’s critical that you become a two-handed player. Look in the mirror and practice and really work on that weakside.
You were in talks with Penn State last summer to take over the head coaching position but ultimately decided to return to your alma mater. What were the key factors in making that decision?
It was a hard decision. Penn State is an incredible institution for academics and athletics and there are a lot of great people there. Ultimately, it came to that I’m an alum at Brown and I couldn’t say no to my alma mater. For me, there’s a lot of brown in that blood. It’s who I am.
What’s the outlook for Brown Men’s Lacrosse in 2011?
All I know is that we will get together on that first day and depending on how good of shape we are in, that’s how quickly we can get to work. If we are focused, then we will be right into it and we can build this program, build the foundation from last year and take it to the next level.
With sports, you don’t know the ending. Nothing is guaranteed each year. Our motto is, “Expect nothing, earn everything.”
Midfielders play extremely important roles on any lacrosse team. They are the only players to play both offense and defense, so they need to be complete players. It’s key that midfielders can dictate the tempo of a game by playing hard and fast, so in order to do that, players have to drill hard and fast.
Being skilled with ground balls is vital to becoming a dynamic midfielder and it’s very important to be able to pick the ball off the ground. Teams generally want their midfielders to create tempo and cause havoc out on the field, but the only way to do that is by knocking the ball to the ground and picking it up.
Led by Duke assistant coach Ron Caputo, the following drills will teach you proper ground ball techniques, skills and methods to incorporate into your next practice and ultimately improve the play of your midfielders.
A good midfielder doesn’t care about what’s around them and will always run through the ball. In this drill, have a line of players stand about 5-10 yards from a ball on the field. Meanwhile, take two players and have them hold out their sticks toward the ball, but never touching it. While the sticks will hit the players, it shouldn’t matter. One by one, players will sprint forward and scoop up the ball. Even if the ball gets kicked and moves forward, players should not be worried about distractions and conflict.
Players should start out with their right hand first and then use their left h and on the way back. Remember, players should pick up the ball with both hands though. The goal here is to get comfortable picking up the ball and not be worried about contact or distractions on he field.
One of the biggest keys for a midfielder is to be able to move the ball to teammates right away. To do that, players must be able to pick up the ball with both hands and do so very fast.
In this drill, two players will start out about five yards apart and face the main drill participant. One player will then roll the ball out to the main participant’s right hand and as they pick it up, he will “get in the mirror” and pass it back to the roller. Then the other roller will toss the ball out to the player’s left side, and the player will scoop it up and deposit it back to the roller. The drill repeats continuously.
This is a great conditioning drill and will keep your players playing fast and being able to pick up the ball with both hands before moving it quickly to teammates.
Another job of a midfielder is to keep opposing teams off the ground balls and allow one of their teammates to get it. In this drill, we’ll have two players work together at a time. One player will be in front of the other. At the sound of the whistle, the player playing behind the offensive player will try to get around the man and get the ball that’s resting just out in front. Meanwhile, the player in front will use his elbows and hips to box that player out and not let him get the ball. The player may not pick up the ground ball until the coach blows his whistle a second time.
The three drills in this week’s feature can be found in the Championship Productions’ DVD “Becoming a Champion: The Midfielder.” To check out additional videos in the Becoming a Champion lacrosse series, click here.
This week’s player development feature focuses on a variety of drills geared toward offensive lacrosse players and the improvement of their inside play.
It’s important that every team features elite inside players, or off-ball players. The skills of an off-ball player are always needed and are extremely valuable. A good inside player is typically savvy, has great hands, has great stick skills and has developed a knack for scoring goals. Also, these players play a big part in the outcome of lacrosse games as games are often won and lost at the hands of their inside players.
But before one becomes an elite off-ball player, they must develop their stickwork first. Led by Johns Hopkins assistant coach Bobby Benson, the following six drills focus on improving individual stick skills so that offensive players can catch and shoot at a very quick pace and take their game to the next level.
In this drill, two players will simply play catch with each other in place, but using proper techniques. The 2-Man Catch develops one’s general stickwork skills and works on having players deliver a quick release.
Keep in mind when conducting this drill, players should always turn their shoulders so they are pointing toward their throwing partner. The key here is to work on catching the ball behind the head so you can get off a good, quick release. You do not want to catch the ball in front of you. If you do, you can’t do as much in this position and you can’t simply play lacrosse. But with the ball behind you, you can play, shoot or pass quickly and it will help you score goals inside.
Remember, passes and feeds should be done right off the ear.
By adding a second ball, this drill picks up the pace and challenges players to go faster with catching and passing. Like the previous drill, there’s only two players working together here but with two balls now, so they have to push each other to go faster and faster. If there’s a bad pass, have the players move their feet to go catch it. Remember, players should keep one foot in front of the other when catching and passing, but remain stationary altogether.
In this drill, two players start out about 10 yards apart and run parallel to each other all the way down the length of the field while catching and passing. Players should go 60-75 yards down the field with one hand before returning in the other direction while using the opposite hand. Remember, look to catch the ball across the face and don’t reach out to catch it. Reaching out to catch the ball will only slow you down. Remember to minimize cradles to get a good quick release and be sure to work on both the right and left hands.
Now, by adding a second ball and running down the length of the field, all previous drill actions are working together. This drill really works on developing speed and playing on the move.
This drill features four players starting out in a box formation and standing on the hash marks of the field. Two players are just behind the goal on opposite wings and the other two players are out in front of the goal also on opposite wings. The ball starts out in one corner. Players will then throw the ball to each other around the horn, catching it behind their head and getting the ball in and out of their sticks as fast as possible. Players — while remaining stationary — keep going around the horn until the coach blows the whistle.
Here, we had a second ball to the drill in order to work at a quicker pace. Remember to move the feet in order to go and get the ball, but overall, players should remain stationary.