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Up-Tempo Lacrosse: Mini Game Series Featuring Tufts Men’s Lacrosse

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Tufts men’s lacrosse program is built upon its high-tempo attack and rapid-fire transition game. The “Mini Game Series” is just one of many different drills that the Jumbos rely on to prepare for game situations. Follow along with Tufts head coach Mike Daly as he breaks down the drill and analyzes the action on the field. Also one of the program’s favorite drills, the game series is easy to implement and will add a competitive edge to your practices.

Mini Game Series

The entire squad is broken up into eight teams that compete throughout the semester in 4-on-4 mini games. The field is shrunk and set up sideline to sideline. Play begins with a faceoff and after that, players are off to the races. Look to play 5, 7, or 10-minute games. It’s a continuous drill, so look to substitute players throughout to maintain that high level of intensity.

Why it’s effective: The drill emphasizes tempo, defensive ball handling, playing offense in game situations, among many others. This is also a terrific quick action drill that requires you to think on your feet, gives you a ton of possessions, and replicates game situations.

Tips: After goals are scored, the other team immediately gets the ball and goes right back into attack mode. Maintain a fast pace at all times. Also, keep the action 4-on-4 the entire time, like so many of your breaks in real games.

Check out another up-tempo lacrosse drill in the Tufts practice plan called the Add It Up Drill

The clips above can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD ”Transition Drills for Building an Up-Tempo Offense” with Mike Daly. To view more offensive videos in our lacrosse library, click here.

A Pair of Effective Lacrosse Drills for Up-Tempo Defense

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pick up two efficient defensive drills this week that reinforce fundamentals and will improve your team’s transition game. The Bulldog Drill and Intercept Pass Drill are both staples for the Tufts men’s lacrosse program, Div. III’s national champs in 2010. From clearing to team communication, these drills cover many facets of the game and will be huge additions to your practice plan this season.

Bulldog Drill

This first drill is a fine tool to encourage good habits for defenders. It also works on getting up the field and using an over pass as a part of a circuit of passing drills.

Start with a coach or goalie rolling a ball out to an open side. Then have an over pass where the ball goes to the other side of the field before two more upfield passes are made. As you roll the ball out, look to run through the ground ball. As you start your transition, try to push up the field and get a fast break. If it’s open, take it. If it’s not open, reverse the ball. Look for a break out pass and then a pass on the other side of the field to finish the drill up.

Coaching Tips: When it comes to the ground ball and driving up the field, we want an explosive move up the field. Sometimes in practice, we have the tendency to go slow. You must go at full speed. Once players get the hang of the drill, look to get more than one ball going at once.


Intercept Pass Drill

The “Intercept Pass Drill” focuses on improving on-ball to off-ball communication, using both ends of the field, and having a continual rotation. Coaches, make sure that the prime defender in the drill intercepts the pass at some point.

The set-up has three offensive players making sure the defender is playing at least two of his main roles on defense: being in the hole, on ball, or adjacent.

To begin, our defender is either in the hole or adjacent. As adjacent, he goes out to play the ball and now he’s on ball. As a new adjacent, he’s working back inside to help out and play team defense. His primary purpose now is to take away the skip pass. You can do that by working back inside. Be sure to look over your shoulder to find the skip lane. Do not blindly look inside.


Alright, so let’s put this all together now. Start by working out to play the ball and apply pressure there. As you work back inside, open to the ball, peak over your shoulder and get in position to get that interception. If you take away that skip pass, you can be in a great position to play great team defense.

Coaching Tips: Don’t leave the drill until you make an interception, even if it takes awhile. Coaches, make sure that players are constantly communicating out there. Also, you can go both sides of the cage at the same time to increase team reps.

The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Fundamental Defense Drills for Winning Lacrosse.” To check out more defensive-oriented videos in our lacrosse library, click here

A Must-Have Face-Off Warm-Up Progression for Every Level

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tufts head coach Mike Daly is a firm believer that increased face-off work in practice had a direct correlation to his team’s championship run in 2010.

This week you’ll get an exclusive chance to learn Daly’s face-off warm-up progression, an instrumental set of face-off drills that have paid dividends for his squad in recent seasons. Look to incorporate these effective drills in your own practices this year. Hopefully, you’ll see an improvement in your face-off winning percentage and overall transition game.

Face-Off Warm-Up Progression

For Coach Daly and the Jumbos, this warm-up is a key part of their face-off routine. It starts with face-off basics and then moves into counters and more detailed progressions.

First up, after Coach Daly blows the whistle, players get into their face-off positions (squatting and head down), and go back and forth over the top of the ball with their stick head for up to 10 seconds. Take a short break and then the players repeat.

Next, it’s Moves vs. Air, which includes clamps, jams, and lasers. It all starts with a clamp move after the whistle. Then the players practice Jams vs. Air. This is where each face-off guy reaches out across the ball and jams his stick to prevent his opponent from getting to the ball. He can then easily funnel the ball in his direction thanks to key body positioning and effective stick placement. For Lasers vs. Air, there’s an immediate deflection of the ball with the stick and the player can play the ball to space.


For Dummy Partner, players are simply working on their moves against each other. The dummies provide some resistance and the goal is to get warmed up and go against some minimal resistance.

Finally, the players go live against each other. Competition is important here. If you win, you move up to the winner’s side. If you lose you go back to the loser’s side. You keep moving guys up until you have an ultimate winner. Overall, it’s great competition and something that the Tufts lacrosse team uses in practice and even on game day. It also incorporates toughness into every one of their reps.


Got any other face-off drills that you use in your own warm-up progression? E-mail us at and tell us why they are so effective for you.

The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Lacrosse Face-Offs: Winning Every Draw.” To check out more face-off videos, head over to our video library

Two Essential Face-Off Drills to Boost Your Transition Game

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It’s no secret that face-offs in lacrosse have a direct correlation to the outcome of any particular game. Simply, if you increase your face-off winning percentage, you’ll retain more possessions, control the pace of play, and ultimately have a better chance at winning.

Tufts head coach Mike Daly credits increased face-off work in practice as a key reason for his team’s championship run in 2010. This week you’ll get a chance to learn some of Daly’s most effective face-off drills before seeing them played out live in practice. Look to implement these drills in practice this season and improve on your face-off winning percentage and overall transition game.

Thunderdome Face-Off Drill

This is a terrific face-off drill that involves transition aspects. We’ll start with two face-off units, brown vs. white. The winning face-off team will attack 6-on-5. Whichever team loses the draw, that face-off man will be immediately out of the drill. From there, the drill moves into a 6-on-5 transition opportunity, which is quite common in lacrosse off the draw.

Thunderdome is ideal for working on realistic transition and face-off situations. Also, it implements the mindset that we are attacking in these situations and whenever we get an unsettled situation. This is a big part of Tufts lacrosse and is instrumental to the program’s success.

Key: After claiming possession, the winning team should be crashing the crease and pushing it fast. Coaches should look to keep score in this drill. Have the players really push the transition breaks, get in a lot of reps, and make constant communication.


3 v 3 Face-Off Drill

This effective 3 v 3 drill particularly incorporates the wing players. Even if you lose the draw, your team still has a chance at the ball, and that’s where the wing players really come into play. The face-off battle is such a key part of the game and being able to retain possessions. It’s imperative that your short sticks on the wings box out their opponents.

Start with two face-off guys going at it at the X. Then set up the other wing players on opposite sides of the midline. Remember, we don’t just judge who wins a possession by who wins the clamp, it’s about which team gets the possession. This 3 v 3 drill plays out until the ball is in the box.

For the right wing, his job is to come in and hopefully be physical against the long pole and box him out. It’s key he keeps the long pole away from the scrum and out of the middle. Be physical, box out, and don’t let the opponent be part of the equation.

Tip: Use variation with your long poles in the drill. Have them at various points on the field. Sometimes it depends on the particular players taking the draw. Sag them towards the offensive side of the field, for instance, if they have the advantage at the X.

Meanwhile, make sure that you always have a game plan with the wings. Don’t just react to teams and opposing players.

Also, constantly remind your players that it’s not a face-off win until you get the ball into the box. You can still win possession even if they have the ball. Ride hard and be physical and come up with the turnover before it goes into the box.

Finally, communication is crucial here. Players need to tell each other where they are on the field so they can get in position to make plays. Once you pick it up, look to spread out so you don’t let the defenders double team.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Lacrosse Face-Offs: Winning Every Draw” with Mike Daly. To check out more drill-oriented videos, click here.

Lacrosse Transition Drill of the Week: The Bez Drill

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Tufts men’s lacrosse program is well known for its high-tempo attack and effective transition game. The squad’s proficiency in these areas is a major reason why the Jumbos are regarded as one of the best programs in Div. III lacrosse — particularly after posting a 38-4 record the last two seasons and earning the 2010 national title.

The Bez Drill is just one of many effective transition drills the team uses to prepare for game situations. This continuous practice drill moves at a quick pace and gives players a number of reps in a short period of time. With Tufts head coach Mike Daly leading you through the drill, make sure that you pick up some tips and insights and then see how you can incorporate the drill into your own practice plan.

Bez Drill Overview

This drill is named after one of the team’s all-time favorite players, Alexander Bezdek. The Jumbos use it all the time. It’s not only a great competition drill, but it emphasizes everything that we do as a team — stylistically, tempo-wise, philosophy, etc. While it may be somewhat similar to what other teams may run, we throw in a few wrinkles.

Drill Breakdown

The Bez Drill is a constant 3-on-2. Each team will come down on a 3-on-2 break every time. For the team that comes down, the guy that ends the play (whether it be from scoring, turning it over, or whatever) is out of the drill, and the other two guys get back. Immediately, the other teams comes down on those two guys on a 3-on-2 situation.



There’s no time for a momentum mistake, no time to worry about a mistake. Instead, it’s back on defense or offense. No matter what happened previously, we’re focused on taking the next opportunity as it really mimics our style of play. There are a lot of things happening here, good and bad.

Meanwhile, this drill particularly helps with creating runs on offense and stopping runs on the defensive side of the field. It requires proper stick handling and a focus on fundamentals for our defensive personnel, especially because they are handling the ball and running the breaks.

For Tufts, the team is most successful when playing as a unit, sharing the ball, making that extra pass, and not settling for outside shots.

On the Field

Next, Coach Daly provides the play-by-play as the drill happens. It’s a constant 3-on-2, involves a ton of quick looks, and really develops confidence to shoot off the pass. It also develops confidence in defenders, like knowing when to cut or when to attack on cage. This is all developing here.

Also, it’s an effective drill because we can emphasize many of the little things we do on transition. It’s a very compettive situation. For Tufts, something is always on the line, like pushups, drink break, etc. Like in a game, it always matters.


The previous clips can be seen in Championship Productions’ DVD “Transition Drills for Building an Up-Tempo Offense” with Mike Daly. Check out more videos focusing on transition lacrosse by visiting our lacrosse library.


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