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This week’s lacrosse fundamentals feature focuses on three progression drills that will train your players how to read defenses and improve their overall decision-making skills. These “small drills” are used without a goal/goalie and place an emphasis on improving fundamentals in compact situations.
Watch as Georgetown head women’s lacrosse coach Ricky Fried breaks down each drill through whiteboard diagrams before heading out to the field for live simulations. Fried has led the Hoyas to five NCAA tournament appearances and five Big East Conference Championships as head coach.
This progression drill focuses on the attacker with the ball reading the defense and choosing where they can pass it. We’ll start with an attacker with possession on the top left. There will also be two attackers down low about 10 yards part from each other. We’ll put a defender in the middle of everyone. Then we’ll have one more attacker in the middle up top.
On the pass to the middle player, the defender must pick one side to defend. Next, the player with the ball will turn her head and read this defender and make the appropriate pass to the open attacker.
From the very onset, the attacker with the ball should know where she wants to pass the ball. But instead of just throwing it there, she must read the defense first and notice the defense peripherally to see where she’s going to pass the ball. We need to be quick decision makers here. Also, be sure to switch the drill from righty to lefty in order to work that off-hand.
Now, we’ll add a second defender. On the pass from the left attacker to the middle attacker, one of the defenders must drop to the forward attacker. The other defender now must play one attacker or the other.
On offense, we’re receiving the pass, turning our head, using our hands and feet, and then reading the defender and making the appropriate pass. It’s key that you’re able to do this with both hands comfortably. Go three reps on each side. The defense should also change things up a bit each time so the attackers don’t go into a rhythm. The goal of the defense is to make it as hard as possible for the attackers along the way.
By adding another defender here, we are making the drill more realistic. Meanwhile, it’s key to be active with our head and play with a sense of urgency. Players on the outside must keep their stick up and be ready to go. Also, notice that all passes are direct passes. We aren’t lofting the ball to the person we’re throwing it to.
When we get good at this, we can actually make the opposite middle defender move ourselves by looking at a fellow attacker to get the defender to move before skipping it through the middle.But we need to watch the defenders to see where our open teammates are. It’s like in football, as a quarterback doesn’t read his receivers. He knows exactly where they’re going to be. Instead, he must read the defense and that will tell him which receivers are open. It takes training and some muscle memory to have that habit — and this is a perfect drill in which to work on it.
This drill is even more realistic than the last one. Quicker decisions must be made and we need to go with our instincts. Don’t worry about being right or wrong. Learn from your mistakes and use that going forward. As you are receiving the ball, turn your hips and shoulders, read the defense and then make a decision. Have an idea of what you want to do with the ball as you are receiving it. Keep those hands back until you make a decision and then make the defense move.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Small Drills for Offensive Lacrosse Fundamentals” with Ricky Fried. Check out more skill development videos in our extensive lacrosse library by clicking here.
In the latest edition of All-Access, we take you back to Smithfield, Rhode Island for a behind-the-scenes look inside a Bryant University men’s lacrosse practice. Watch as head coach Mike Pressler preps his squad in the locker room and runs through specific plays the team will be focusing on during practice. Then, check out actual scenes from practice as the team runs through drills and set plays discussed in the locker room earlier in the day.
This week’s All-Access session is a great way for coaches, players and even parents to see how a college lacrosse program prepares during the week – from locker room breakdowns to on-field simulations and to specific coaching strategies and concepts. Be sure to pick up some tips and insights from this exclusive look and see how you can use them with your own squad.
First, the coaching staff breaks down key zone defense techniques, like splitting the offensive side of the field in half and then splitting the top part into thirds. Meanwhile, defensemen should play from the back of the cage to the halfway point. Coach Pressler also talks about when opposing squads zoned Bryant last season that his team was really effective against it — explaining to his squad exactly why they are focusing on it that season.
This 1-4-1 is a power set, with four players on the perimeter and two players inside. Coach Pressler diagrams the setup of the 1-4-1 on the whiteboard. One specific player will make the call to implement the play each time. If a “Roll” is called, the wings should roll up. “Carry” means to roll down. If a player is an X or four; that means to roll right and to carry left.
Sometimes we will call out “22 Carry.” Here, the player up top has the ball and then attacks/engages his man before carrying. Next, another player will fill in up top and the near wing player will move through. This forces the defense to rotate. If we call “22 Roll 2“, then the player with the ball engages his man, he rolls one, and then the trailing guys fill in behind. The beauty of this play is that even the coaching staff doesn’t know what’s going to materialize.
Next the coaching staff runs through Wahoo, which is actually Virginia’s play. Bryant used it against them with success the season before.
Here, the two nearest attackmen to the cage will start out on the GLE on opposite sides. The middle guy then cuts hard right-handed. If there isn’t a play out of this set-up, then the squad goes automatically into “Pinch.” Watch the video to see how the team makes the transition in case the original play isn’t open.
Now catch the play in action as the Bryant lacrosse team practices “Wahoo” on the turf. The squad also makes the transition into Pinch if the original play isn’t there.
The previous All-Access look can be found on Championship Productions’ DVD “All-Access Bryant Lacrosse Practice with Mike Pressler.” Check out our entire All-Access collection by clicking here. The DVD library also includes several new additions featuring Bill Tierney (Denver) and Mike Daly (Tufts).
With University of Denver head coach and six-time NCAA champion Bill Tierney as your guide, learn some new strategies and drills for future team practices that can make a difference for your squad. The same tips and drills have been used by Coach Tierney and his coaching staffs for decades and have provided a foundation for success for his programs.
When organizing team practices, it takes thought, planning, caring, and commitment. First, you must think about what you are trying to accomplish – and this pertains to during the week, the game, the practice and for the entire season. Next, don’t plan your practices at the last minute. By planning ahead of time, your practices will move quickly and you’ll get a lot more accomplished.
Also, show that you care at all times. Your attitude will show through and your players will know if you care about this practice or not, and the same goes for games, too. Whether you’re feeling good or not, you must walk out there each time and show that you care about the results of that practice.
Meanwhile, you must be committed to each practice. Stick with the plan and don’t get flustered. If things are going well, it’s okay to stop them. If things aren’t going well, it’s okay to stop them as well. Just keep the vision and the big picture in place, like winning or preparing for a specific team.
Drills are the best way to repeat skills. Plus, it’s important that your players have muscle and mind memory. Drills provide opportunities for more player involvement overall. For instance, first-string guys can get in there and get the job done and get out. Second-string guys can get in and prove they have a chance to play. Also, team morale is improved by more players participating and drills provide that for them.
Additionally, drills work on the repetition of teaching points and learning from someone else’s mistakes. If kids get bored then change things up. If you see a lack of effort, then it’s also time to change it up. If the kids aren’t performing the drill correctly, that’s the coach’s fault. Make the drills clear and understandable. Take the time to know what they are thinking and for them to know what you are thinking. If you’re getting good results, stop the drill and move on before it gets too old.
Later, we will go into detail about some specific drills, but it’s important to remember a few things when conducting them.
*Keep them fun
*Make sure they’re meaningful. You must get results and the players need to know why they are doing the drill.
*Drills should present opportunities. The players who aren’t starters can get a chance to show they deserve to play in the game as well.
Coach Tierney typically utilizes drills for the 11 most important parts of the game: faceoffs, ground balls, throwing, catching, shooting, riding, clearing, transition offense, transition defense, half-field offense, and half-field defense.
Faceoff Drill 1: Take all of your face-off men and put them along the midline with a ball between each pair. Here, we are just asking the players to make their favorite move, whether it’s a clamp, lift, or something we are planning on implementing that week as a team.
Have all four pairs get down as the coach is about to blow the whistle. The only thing the faceoff guys are doing is an initial move. No matter where the ball goes, the guys should stop. This is not a competition drill, but rather a muscle memory drill.
Faceoff Drill 2: Take pairs and put them back-to-back and place a ball between them. On the whistle, the players should fight for the ball. This allows the faceoff guys to work on balance and getting down low. Plus, the lower they get, the better shot they have at coming away with the ball.
Scoop and Sprint: Break the team up in half and get four or five lines at either end of the field on the restraining line. Balls will be placed down and out in front of them. Players are then required to sprint as fast as they can while picking up the ground ball. Once they pick it up, they must cross the midfield line and put the ball down on the opposite side of the field for the opposite player in their line.
The drill goes back and forth. It’s a simple drill, but it makes players do their sprint work and also simulates what may happen in a game when chased by an opposing player. Go 2-4 times, depending on if conditioning is being implemented. Also, look to scoop with the opposite hand as well. While this is rare, it puts the pressure on the kids to learn the skill. The drill also stresses communication, getting low, moving through the ball quickly, and yelling out “ball” and “release” once in the stick.
2-on-1 Ground Ball Drill: The ball here is rolling away from the players, simulating a typical 2-on-1 situation. Here we have one player use his body to block out the opponent and let his teammate come through and scoop up the ball. Once the ball is picked up, the player should run away with the ball and yell out release. Then, his teammate rolls off the pick, throws back to his teammate and then throws back to the coach. If the middle player picks up the ball, the two men double-team until the ball is on the ground or the player gets it back to the coach.
The Maze Drill: Break up the team into 8 or 10 lines. Start with the right hand and then move to the left hand. The ball starts out in the corner. The player throws to the opposite line and then follows to the end of that line. That player then takes the ball and throws a diagonal pass to the next line and he goes behind that line. Basically, every time you throw a pass, you follow and get behind that line. You follow a pattern of across, diagonal, across, diagonal, and so on. Then you can start a second ball and a third ball.
This drill really makes players concentrate as a lot of balls are flying and guys are moving. Once the ball gets to the last line, the player must throw a ball all the way to the first line in a full-field toss.
Pressure Passing: The ball starts with the goalie. A defender breaks out to the side and the goalie throws him the pass. Then an attackman goes out and puts the pressure on that defender. We’re not looking to intercept the pass or check the ball away, though. For the defender, we want them to get a feel for the game moments when an attacker puts on the pressure.
After the defender catches the ball, he will run up the field and then throw the ball to a cutting midfielder. Another midfielder will trail behind him and then put on the pressure. Next, he’ll turn to the outside, and our next middie is breaking across the midfield line with pressure on him as well. The middie throws the next pass on an angle to the awaiting midfielder. He then turns and heads towards the opposite goal where there’s an attackman waiting. The attackman makes a V-cut for an open pass (with a defender on him), the pass goes to the outside shoulder, and he catches it. With the pressure on, this player rolls and an another attackman behind the goal breaks to the goal, catches the ball, and makes a 1-on-1 move on the goal and gets off a good shot.
The drill comes up the entire length of one side of the field. As you get better, you can run the drill on both sides of the field. This is truly one of the most effective drills for your kids to run and throw and catch under pressure.
The clips featured above can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Championship Practice Organization for Lacrosse.” Check out additional videos in our lacrosse library that highlight practice organization and coaching tips.
By implementing multi-purpose practice drills into a practice plan, coaches can maximize their staff and players to produce an efficient, fast-paced, and competitive session. Plus, coaches will also be able to make practices more productive by using drills that highlight many different aspects of the game at once.
With former Rutgers University head men’s lacrosse coach Jim Stagnitta leading the way, check out these two highly effective team drills focusing on game situations. The drills — which Coach Stagnitta uses as part of his own practice plan — include a live 3-on-2 Ground Ball Drill and a Staggered Start Drill that gets the entire team involved and really mimics game-like situations.
This ground ball drill works on offensive and defensive aspects simultaneously and gets the competitive juices flowing. The simulation will put the pressure on the offensive guys and forces the players to work hard, pick up ground balls under pressure, find the next open man, and provide a quick finish. Offensively, once players secure the ground ball, they should recognize that they have numbers and then work on pacing, getting the ball out of their stick quickly, and finishing.
As for defenders, their job is to put the pressure on the offense, chase them, and make it hard to get the ground ball and get away an easy shot on cage. Disruption is the key and players must work hard to make it happen.
Overall, there should be lots of energy here, plenty of ball movement, and players will get to work on finishing and getting their shots on net. Another great aspect of this drill is that it really hones players’ decision-making skills. Players will have to read the situation and then finish with pressure on them. There isn’t much time here for hesitation.
Even if you only have two coaches, you can run this drill on both ends of the field and still keep lots of players involved. It’s a terrific drill to maximize numbers, your coaching staff, and you can get the most out of the drill in a short period of time. It keeps practice moving at a good pace, exciting, upbeat, fast-paced, and competitive.
Remember, there should always be a new unit waiting and ready to step in for the next simulation. There should be no down time.
Conditioning can also be done here if the drill is performed at full speed. If you keep the players rotating through one drill after another, this certainly can be used as conditioner at the same time (instead of those dreaded line sprints).
This drill transitions players into their 6-on-6 offense. But instead of just blowing the whistle and commencing from a dead ball start, we will conduct the drill just like you would in a game.
First, the coach will roll out a ball. The white team is on offense first and the red team is on defense first. The ball will be rolled out to white. As white starts out with the ball, there will be an advantage numbers-wise for that team. Therefore, the defense will be forced to recover in tight and check up. Meanwhile, the offense will try and take advantage of the numbers situation.
It’s key here that defense communicates effectively, gets into position and checks up. This drill is very much like a game situation. Keep in mind that if nothing is open in the unsettled situation, then the offense should transition into their 6-on-6 offense and be patient.
At the end of the drill, the offense goes to defense, the defense is out, and players transition from there.
This drill is a great way for teams to practice the transition into their 6-on-6 offense and look to get a numbers advantage in the process. It also works on the defense getting into the hole first and checking up like they would in a game. Meanwhile, the offense can move into their standard 6-on-6 offense if there are no chances via the unsettled situation at the onset.
Everyone gets repetitions on both sides of the ball. The drill also forces players to clear the ball to the midline, too, so you don’t stop playing.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD Multi-Purpose Practice Drills for Lacrosse featuring Jim Stagnitta. To see more videos focusing on practice drills, check out our extensive lacrosse collection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Watch the video below of a few Ohio State lacrosse players going through their wall ball test:
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.