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Essential Stickwork Skills: Proper Catching & Throwing Techniques with Nick Myers

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Watch as Ohio State head coach Nick Myers breaks down fundamental stickwork skills and drills that coaches can incorporate into practices to help their athletes become complete lacrosse players. Coach Myers starts by discussing some stick pocket basics before moving into the importance of triple threat positioning.

Stick Pocket Basics

When it comes to building a stick pocket for a lot of younger players, they are often building it with the wrong idea. The goal might be to get a harder shot or fancy fake. But when you are building your stick, you need to start with the basics: Throwing, catching, getting the ball in and out of your stick, and being able to build on that. Ultimately, becoming proficient in these areas will make you a better dodger, shooting, and feeder.

So what exactly makes a successful stick pocket? There should be a nice gradual progression. In other words, as you place your hand in your stick and roll it out, you don’t want your lower strings to be too tight. You want your top string to be the tightest and the bottom string to be the loosest. This is crucial towards getting you to be able to do all of the key fundamentals (dodge, shoot and feed).

When you put a ball into your stick for the first time, you should have a nice groove where the ball sits down in your pocket. You should also have a legal stick that enables the ball to settle in nicely for a two-handed cradle and a one-handed cradle.

 

Catching & Throwing Tips

When catching and throwing with your stick, it’s critical to avoid wasted motion. This is when your stick is down at the hip and when every catch and throw looks completely different. Instead, you want to build consistency with your catching and throwing.

Look to implement a skill cue called “11 to 1 Passing”. If you were a clock, you’d want to go from 11 to 1 with your stick. Therefore, shorten your release and get off a quicker and snappier pass.

Another key is getting into your triple threat positioning. This is when you catch the ball and you’re in a position to dodge, shoot, or feed. As you catch the ball, the stick should be going back towards the 11 o’ clock position and then snapping it out to the 1 o’ clock position. Even if you get a bad pass, you still want to bring the stick to 11 o’ clock. When following through, crack your top wrist right at your target, and that top hand will force the ball to really snap out of your stick.

Soft Hands

When throwing back and forth, focus on catching the ball deep back by the ear. As the ball comes to you, receive it back by the ear and right into your 11 o’ clock position. You can even pretend the ball is an egg, and if you have soft hands, the egg will not break.

The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Explosive Skills & Drills for Offensive Lacrosse” featuring Nick Myers. You can check out dozens of other shooting videos by visiting our extensive lacrosse library.




Form Shooting: Key Fundamentals, Tips, and Drills with Nick Myers

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Follow along as Ohio State head coach Nick Myers breaks down form shooting with you. Myers covers the finer points when it comes to shooting and how players can use deception to get the most out of each shooting opportunity. See how you can implement these key tips with your squad this season so they can improve their shooting skills and overall offensive effectiveness.

Form Shooting: An Overview

Let’s start with the core fundamental pieces when it comes to shooting. You can make an analogy to golf here. In golf, you have the tendency to overswing. When you do, you sacrifice your fundamentals and form for power. Well, in lacrosse, you can compare this to a shot using only the arms. When this happens, you won’t be able to progress (especially with accuracy and power).

Continuing with the analogy, a lot of times in lacrosse, we aren’t using the right kind of club. For instance, there are different types of shots like in tight to the cage, off ball, time and space, and shots on the run. You have a number of shots in your bag, and you need to be effective at all of them.

First, you want to have good balance. By putting a piece of cheater tape on the stick, it will allow a player to have a point of reference for their hands. Coach Myers puts his stick right on his hips, gets a good base and balance, and puts his stick right to his chin. He will then rotate his chin to his shoulder. You want good space between you and your stick. And then you just let your body naturally rotate with you. This is what we call the catch and load phase.

 

Two Primary Phases of Shooting

1) Catch & Load — This is where you simply have a good stance, receive the ball deep, naturally coil the body, load the hips, and keep your weight on your back foot.

A great drill to practice this is to work with a partner, have light feet, and work on receiving the ball right into your catch and load position. Every rep I take, I am bringing it back and loading, catching it deep as the ball comes in, my feet are moving as the ball is in flight, I’m rotating my shoulders, my hands are out and up, my chin is on my shoulder, and I am ready to shoot the ball. You can’t be flat footed as you don’t want to drag the stick down. It makes the shot longer and creates room for error.

2) Follow-through – Start with your elbow, hip, and front foot. These three areas will be connected. You should rip with your elbow, which will open up the hips. Then turn your front foot and open your stance. This will really generate some power through the core of your body. Don’t allow your hands to come into your body.

Shooting Drills

Start with a ten-yard time and space shot. We call this our “Driver Shot.” We generate the most power out of this one. Our feet are set, we are catching and loading, and we are really trying to follow through to the goalie with as much power as we can get. Don’t overshoot. The key is to get the ball out and up quickly.

Shooting Progression: Catch and Load, Open Stance, Rip Elbow, and Follow Through.

In the slow motion clip, notice that the head of the stick is behind his body. This is hiding the stick from the goalie and forcing the player to coil his body and really get out and over the top.

Soft Toss

With Soft Toss, we are working on the following: Stepping in and following through right at the target, not shooting for accuracy but for power, working on form, catching the ball soft, rotating the body, and delivering an explosive followthrough. Go righty and then lefty. It’s just a partner pass and shot. If you can get 25-30 reps before practice each day, you’ll really improve your technique and overall shooting.

 

The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Explosive Skills & Drills for Offensive Lacrosse” featuring Nick Myers. Check out more shooting videos by visiting our extensive lacrosse library.




Best of Coaches Corner: Drills of the Year

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In this week’s edition of Coaches Corner, learn more than a dozen top lacrosse drills submitted by some of the nation’s most renowned NCAA coaches. From the likes of NCAA Champions John Danowski, Bill Tierney and Jim Berkman, the coaches dish out their personal favorites, plus a few player preferences, as well. The drills were compiled from Coaches Corner Q&A’s over the 2010-2011 season. Be sure to read through and see if you can pick up some new drills for your practices this season.

Ohio State Coach Nick Myers:

“It’s hard to pinpoint one, but I like doing some of the simpler drills that break down our overall scheme — like 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 drills that are controlled. By doing these drills, we get to work on dodging, off-ball play, communication, ball movement and even spacing. They allow players to add-lib and be decision-makers on the field, whether it’s dodging, sliding or recovering. Plus, it teaches a lot of the fundamentals and basics that are important to work on frequently.”

Tufts Coach Mike Daly:

My favorite drill is Mechanics Progression, which deals with your elbows, shoulders and hands and really focuses on the fundamentals of the game. If you can’t catch and throw, you can’t do anything in this game. There’s nothing more important than that. It may be mundane to our players, but it’s absolutely the cornerstone of our program.”

Salisbury Coach Jim Berkman:

“It’s not brain surgery here, but we like to put people in tight spaces, especially around the goal. We’ll go 3-on-2, 4-on-3 and 5-on-4 a lot, not necessarily 40-yard sprints, but around the goal and look to move the ball under pressure and make good decisions. It teaches the guys how to protect and stick handle and make quick passes in tight spaces. It’s teaches defenses how to slide and rotate and I think it makes them better overall when it comes to on the field during a game.”

Brown Coach Lars Tiffany:

“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.”

Click here to check out a full breakdown of the general drill (with video) in a previous edition of Inside the Crease. Also, check out Coach Tiffany’s DVD “Man-Down Defense: A Catalog of Drills.”

Denver Coach Bill Tierney:

Well it goes back to the concept that defense wins titles. My favorite drills are ones that put the offense at an advantage and the defense at a disadvantage. One is a 7-on-6 drill where we insert another player into it after a 6-on-6 situation and we work on slides and rotations. There’s also the 656 drill, where the offense is out-manning the defense 6-on-5 until the defender gets back into play, and this simulates a slide technique.

Then there’s the red-white drill. We go up and down 5 vs. 4 and can add a man and make it 6 vs. 5 drill. It’s great for transition play, ball movement and skill development for offensive players. There’s also survival drills like 2-on-2 perimeter drills where we force the ball inside so that two defenders have to communicate and switch. The bottom line is that we like to run drills that will simulate what we do in the game.”

Duke Coach John Danowski:

“It’s called the Shoot as Hard as You Can Drill. It’s an offensive drill and we use it during pre-game warm-ups and even run it three or four days a week in practice. We get the guys right out in front of the cage and we teach them how to shoot as hard as they can without worrying about where the ball goes. We try to get in a lot of reps, focus on keeping your hands back, your momentum going towards the shot and having the players fall into the crease.”

Former Towson Coach Tony Seaman:

“We really love 4-on-4 drills. It gives us three slides in defensive packages. We can move people around and simulate our offense pretty well with four people and the kids get a feel for where they belong. Plus, we can work on spacing, picking off the ball and defensively who will be the first, second and third slide. We can get so much done and there’s less people to worry about and look at on a daily basis.”

Player Favorites

John Danowski, Duke University:

“It’s called the Scrapping Drill. We run it at the beginning or end of practice with the emphasis on picking up ground balls and keeping focused while under pressure. We’ll get two teams together with a goalie in net and have two players going up against one. The team of two has to figure out how to score. It happens very fast and is over sometimes in three or four seconds. It’s a high-energy and high-tempo drill that gets the guys amped up and often has consequences at the end of practice for the losing team.”

See the Scrapping Drill in John Danowksi’s new DVD, All-Access Duke Lacrosse, Volume II: Individual Skills and Full Field Drills.

Jim Berkman, Salisbury University:

“It’s called Full-Field Scramble. It goes from 4-on-3 to 5-on-4 the other way and then 6-on-4 the other way and then finally 10-on-10. The guys like that one because of the transition components. It’s good for conditioning and then ends up being a full field situation where the kids must make good decisions. They also must learn to fast break, defend in the box, come down and make the appropriate cuts, and then defend 6-on-6 and clear on the other end. It forces guys to make a lot of different decisions and really enhances the lacrosse IQ.”

Stay tuned this season for more Q&A’s featuring some of the game’s top lacrosse coaches. Also, be sure to sign-up for our bi-weekly lacrosse eNewsletter “Inside the Crease.”




An Effective Wall Ball Workout Perfect for the Offseason

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Don’t have access to a lacrosse field this summer? Well don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Wall ball workouts provide a number of ways to improve your lacrosse skills, from catching and throwing, to playing on the move, to developing your wrists, and to making you a more explosive player overall.

The great thing is that you can find a wall just about anywhere, whether its at the gym or school. So find a wall, grab a handful of lacrosse balls, and bring your gloves along with a partner. Remember to go into your wall ball workouts with a purpose. As you will quickly discover, the benefits are tremendous.

Wall Ball Workout

One Cradle: 10 Right, 10 Left

Sometimes players will use their arms to throw the ball or they might hold their stick too tight. Focus on your wrists. You want explosive hands to be a good player.

Look to maintain a good base, keep your hands up at your chin, and your feet should be shoulder width apart. Your bottom hand should be a little higher than your top hand. Next, get a little cradle going and get comfortable with the stick in your hands. This really trains the wrists to be explosive.

Quick Sticks: 10 Right, 10 Left

There is no cradle here. This drill is similar to pepper, but without the cradle. Get a good base, stand five yards from the wall and look to establish a decent pace off the wall.

Focus on that triple threat position with your hands up by your chin and maintain a staggered stance. Keep that opposite foot forward and try to snap that ball off the wall. Use soft hands but don’t go reaching for the ball. The ball should be in and out of your stick quickly.

One Hand, One Cradle

This really helps to develop your feeding/passing and shooting. It’s also a great way to develop a stronger stick. For this one, take the bottom hand off your stick. Snap your wrist with each throw. Catch the ball deep and use soft hands in and out.

Catch and Switch: 10 Right, 10 Left

This drill is similar to a crossover in basketball and is ideal for working on exchanges typically seen during a game. You need to be comfortable moving the stick from hand to hand. Your feet are always working underneath. They are not waiting for the ball. Remember the progression “Ear, Chin, Ear.” This will help you maintain proper form throughout the drill. Also, don’t abandon those fundamentals for speed. If your fundamentals suffer a bit, just slow things down.

 

Grounders: 5 Right, 5 Left

With this one, play the ball off the bounce. Get the ball off the ground, right to your ear and snap it out of your stick quickly.

Shovels

Here, you will be catching the ball across your body. This is also an effective drill for defenders and works on game-like situations. Basically, you’re going to work on a cross-body shovel. Catch the ball, give a face dodge, and then shovel it away.

Cross-Hand Catch and Throw

This is an ideal exercise for those moments when you have to catch the ball on your opposite side and then have to throw it from that side, too.

Backhand: 5 Right, 5 Left

This drill is a little more advanced, but it involves taking a normal pass, making a half cradle and then throwing the ball over your shoulder. Take your time with this one to make sure you maintain proper form and get the ball in and out of your stick cleanly.

 

Wall Ball Test

Once you’ve practiced the wall ball drills for a while, it’s then time to proceed with the wall ball test. Here, we will incorporate the following techniques: One Cradle, Quick Sticks, One Hand-One Cradle, Catch and Switch, and Shovels.

The wall ball test will make your workouts more competitive and also allows you to shoot for goals every time. Eventually, look to do 110 reps under two minutes. Grab a partner to feed you balls as well. Then, start five yards from the wall. Once you get comfortable, take a stopwatch and time yourself and look to improve your time on each occasion.

 

The entire wall ball workout can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Explosive Skills & Drills for Offensive Lacrosse” featuring Nick Myers. To check out additional lacrosse videos, visit our lacrosse catalog by clicking here.




Two Dodging Drills Incorporating the Speed Ladder with Nick Myers

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The dodge is one of lacrosse’s most fundamental aspects. This is an offensive attempt to elude the defense, protect the ball and set up your next move (whether it be a shot or pass). Because so many aspects of the game incorporate dodging, it’s a critical skill to learn. Plus, successful dodging enables your team to score goals. And while speed is a key element to a successful dodge, players also need to be explosive, quick and physical.

With Ohio State men’s lacrosse head coach Nick Myers leading the way, check out the following dodging drills that incorporate the speed ladder. See how you can implement the key tips with your squad this season so they can improve their dodging skills and overall explosiveness.

Speed Ladder Ground Ball Drill
One at a time, players will sprint through a ladder positioned on the field. Then, as the players approach the end of the ladder, the coach will roll a ground ball somewhere in the vicinity. The players must explode out of the ladder and scoop the ground ball and continue with a dodging move.

Each time through the ladder, the players should vary their footwork. This is a great way to work on ground ball repetitions as well, in addition to footwork, speed and quickness. For the ladder, anything from cariocas to quick feet or high knees will ensure variety and the use of different movements.

 

Speed Ladder w/ Ball Drill
In this drill, we’re really working on footwork, coordination and agility. Players will now start with the ball in their stick. When the players come out of the ladder, they will explode, address a cone, square their shoulders to the cone, and finish by putting a hard dodge on the cone.

Really try to focus on exploding out of the ladder and to the cone. Remember, an effective dodger is always explosive at the point of contact. Also, work on keeping your head up at all times. Adding full gear and a ball allows the players to get better reps when using the ladder, as well.

Don’t forget to vary your footwork within the ladder in these drills. For beginners, focus more on form than speed when utilizing the ladder. You can always speed things up when the players become more comfortable overall.

 

The following drills can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Explosive Skills and Drills for Offensive Lacrosse” with Nick Myers. To check out more offensive videos from our extensive collection, click here.




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