Whether you’re a new lacrosse lacrosse or a seasoned veteran, it’s critical to always create a blueprint for how to run your youth lacrosse practice. In our previous youth lacrosse feature, we highlighted many key tips and drills for a productive practice, focusing on crucial areas such as partner passing, stick drills, ground balls, shooting, and dodging.
This week’s feature focuses on 1-on-1 drills and then builds up to 2-on-2’s, 4-on-4’s, and a few motion drills that teach kids proper movement on the field. With Lambert (GA) coach Jason Breyo leading the way, be sure to pick up these essential drills, teaching points, and overall lacrosse tips for leading a youth practice at the U11 level.
1-on-1 lacrosse is a cornerstone of the team game. We’ll begin with a four corner 1-on-1 set up. Get the attack and defense at one end and the midfielders at the other end. Everyone will get a chance to play offense and defense. Also, you can finally incorporate a warmed-up goalie in these drills. Move clockwise with all segments on the field. Go back and forth down the field (almost in zigzags) and teach the defender to drop step. Offensively, your players can implement face dodges and other moves to try and get past the opposition.
Keep in mind that when teaching kids to play defense at this age, it’s often helpful to teach them about simulating basketball defense. Get into a good low position, stay on the balls of your feet, and have your feet be shoulder width apart.
Whether it’s with offensive sets or transition breaks, so much lacrosse at every level involves the 2-on-2 game. Next in the progression, we’ll have two midfielders and two defensive midfielders working together. Behind the cage, we’ll have two attackers and two simulated defenders working together as well.
When it comes to playing defense in a 2-on-2 setting, we like to demonstrate the principle of Ball-Me-Man. While the on-ball defender wants to force his opponent down the alley, the off-ball defender assumes a help position. Here, he can see the ball and his man. If the ball goes to his man, he can recover quickly. Then the former on-ball defender moves into help defense positioning. As for movement, at this age, we encourage movement of any kind, although picks and dodges are always an option. Also, really encourage kids to utilize the space behind the cage.
Next, get four midfielders, two attackers, and two defenders ready to go. Here, we’re teaching offense and defense in a 4-on-4 format. The key here is to get frequent ball movement by passing and cutting. Remember, there is no contact at the U11 level, and this helps develop stick skills and promotes safety. Therefore, it’s key for kids to move their feet and never stand around. Like with basketball, you can’t get open without moving your feet.
C-Curl or Banana Curl – The C-Curl is a great way to teach kids proper movement on the field. For instance, to get out of the way when picking up a ground ball, kids will often pick the ball up and run in a linear fashion. However, that will get you into trouble a lot and can lead to turnovers. Instead, teach kids to roll away from pressure and curl around to the side.
Start by rolling a ball out. The offensive player will scoop it up (with a trailer/defender on his back) and look to hit his outlet man in the drill. Once he scoops the ball, he should make a C-Curl to escape pressure and pass to an open teammate. Remember, curl out of pressure, roll, and hit the outlet man. Do not encourage picking up ground balls with one hand either.
Looking to make your practices more efficient and effective? Wondering what it takes to get the most out of your players? Salisbury men’s head lacrosse coach Jim Berkman reveals seven practice tips and two essential drills that should pay major dividends for your program. Coach Berkman and his coaching staff have implemented these drills and tips with great success for more than 20 years. Last year, Salisbury captured its ninth NCAA Division III national championship.
1) Have Fun – Salisbury’s style of practices reflect this. Aim to go out and enjoy yourselves each day so that you’ll want to come back the next.
2) Get Your Guys Excited to Come Back – Leave practice thinking you can’t wait to be back on the field tomorrow. To do that, players need to enjoy being out there, the developing relationships, the drills you run, and the style of play you implement to keep it fun.
3) Development and Improvement – Each day, Salisbury looks to set up numerous individual drills at the beginning of practice to help develop players into complete players. Whether it’s shooting, footwork, or stick skills, we want to see them improving their skills so they can become better players and a better team overall.
4) Intensity – Try to play hard all the time. Simulate game-like intensity in every practice. The only way for this to happen is if you are fit, playing a high-paced style, and moving quickly from one drill to the next with no down time.
5) Play Fast – The Seagulls look to play fast in every drill they do. A major goal is trying to move the ball and create a pace that opponents aren’t used to playing and to take teams out of their comfort zone. To do this in a game, you must do it every day and for 120 minutes in that two-hour practice segment.
6) Repetition – Practices should be game-like where players get numerous touches to repeat situations within the offensive or defensive game. This allows the players to improve and develop over the course of a season.
7) Develop a Core of Drills – For Salisbury, this has been in the works for more than 20 years. While this may be constantly modified and changed over the years, this core of drills should be known by every player to eliminate down time. When you go from one drill to the next, you don’t want to go more than 15 seconds by the time the next drill starts. To do that, players must know the drills and get to them quickly.
This team drill reinforces ground balls, rolling away from pressure, redirecting the ball, and keeping the stick to the outside. One at a time, players quickly scoop up the ground ball after it’s been rolled out from a coach. After picking it up, players sprint one direction before turning around and moving the opposite direction and passing to a teammate nearby or behind. Players need to be always looking up the field during a ground ball situation and find that outlet pass.
The Breakout Drill reinforces breaking out wide, redirecting passes, making accurate up and over passes, and cutting. It’s key to get to your spots on a save or any unsettled situation. We want the two bottom defenders to get wide, arc out looking for the ball (slightly behind the goal line), look up the field, redirect across the field, and then look to a third man up the field for the third pass. It’s key to get your players to the right spots on the field during unsettled situations or saves. If the redirect is done correctly, usually you have an easy clear up the opposite side of the field.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “30 Essential Practice Drills for Lacrosse” with Jim Berkman. To check out more practice drills, simply head over to our lacrosse library.
Pick up two effective full-field team warm-up drills designed to get your entire squad involved early in practice. University of Virginia head men’s lacrosse coach Dom Starsia first walks you through the drills using whiteboard illustrations before moving to the field for live simulations. The drills can be performed at any level of lacrosse and should make for great additions to your team practices this season.
Start with a number of lacrosse balls down on one end with a goalie. Get three attackers inside the box on one end and three more on the other end of the field. Also, assemble a good amount of balls on the GLE on the opposite end with another goalie. Eveyone else is lined up on the three corners (opposite boxes and the midfield line) on both sides of the field (six spots total).
Goal: This drill is about getting players moving early in practice and improving full-field stick handling, especially while running. This is an opportunity to look high and away and diagonally up the field and to get attackmen a lot of extra shooting.
The first defender or midfielder gets the pass from the goalie and passes diagonally to the opposite midfielder or defender. He then throws to the next defender or midfielder diagonally. Like before, the receiver then throws to the highest attackman before all three attackers touch the ball. The last attackman shoots on net. Meanwhile, you should be going in the opposite direction at the same exact time.
Variations of the Drill: The midfielders and defenders stay in same line after each pass. Or try “Two steps with the ball.” This is when you know where you’re throwing the ball, so throw it without carrying it to improve the quickness of the exchanges. Look to get two or perhaps three balls going at once.
Start with two goalies behind the cage at one end, four defensemen in front of the cage, a group of middies or LSM at the midfield line, and then four attackmen down at the opposite end and in front of the cage.
Meanwhile on a different team, get four defensemen down where the four attackmen are, four middies at the midline, and then four attackmen down at the opposite end (lined up with the opposing defenders). According to Coach Starsia, “This drill is the essence of how we want to play in a full-field setting.”
The goal is that when we receive the ball, we want to move it up the field quickly while under pressure and make good passes. This drill really helps with fine-tuning these areas. Go 3-4 minutes in one direction and then 3-4 minutes in the other direction. Look to get two balls going at once.
The goalie will receive a pass behind the net and the near defender will break out and receive the ball from the goalie. The riding attackman will go with that defender and play him. We want some pressure here, but we’re not looking for checks. We want to have the guys be able to catch the ball under pressure. The skill for the defenders is to plant and turn. There should be no jogging to the side. Always be moving to the pass you’re throwing.
Next, there’s a midfielder breaking out, with a defending middie mirroring him with some pressure. Then it moves to the attackman with a defender on his back. That attackman passes it to the goalie. Then on the opposite side, we are doing the same exact thing. All the players in similar colors are working together. If players are first catching a pass, the next they will become chasers on defense.
Goals: Work to get open and catch and throw under pressure while moving up the field.
Tip: After three minutes, reverse the ball and work the left-hand side.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Practice Organization and Drills for Lacrosse” with Dom Starsia. To check out more videos featuring drills and practice tips, visit our lacrosse library.
No matter if you’re a brand new coach or a more experienced one, it’s always important to create a framework of how to run a lacrosse practice at the youth level (U11). With Lambert (GA) coach Jason Breyo leading the way, you’ll learn key drills, teaching points, and overall lacrosse tips when it comes to leading a youth lacrosse practice. From stick drills to shooting and to even dodging, see what it takes to run a productive practice and receive detailed instruction on each skill your players need to play the game.
Consider starting out each practice with partner passing. Start out with the kids five yards apart from each other and eventually have them move to 10 yards. This is the age group when stick skills really begin to develop. Have the players work with the right and left hands and make sure they step and throw.
In this drill, players should form two lines, one at each end of the field. One at a time, players will run with the ball for a few yards before throwing it to their partner in the opposite line who is coming towards them. That player will catch the ball and then throw back to the next player in line. Players continue to throw back and forth and look to establish constant movement.
It’s key here to incorporate moving the feet and techniques on how to get open by using your feet. You want to always be moving. Also, be sure to talk and communicate out there with your teammates.
The drill starts with the right hand and then switches to the left hand. At this level, it’s certainly harder for the kids to go with the left hand, but it’s something that they must know how to do and it’s key to practice at a young age.
While ground balls are important at every level of lacrosse, they’re particularly important at the youth level. This drill is quite similar to the previous one, except now players will go back and forth passing and scooping ground balls. Players should move fast and use any hand they’d like. Be sure to bend down and get under the ball. Emphasize bending the knees and getting down to the ground, getting the back hand of the stick down, and really getting down low. This becomes especially important late in games and when players get tired.
Dodging is a technique for players to get around defenders. Start your dodging drills with a face dodge. This technique is done emphasizing the stick and the feet. Bring your stick across your face, tuck the stick, move your feet, and then move past the defender.
Next, move into a split dodge. This is when you move from right to left or left to right with your hands. It really puts defenders off balance and opens up passing and shooting lanes on the offensive end. Remember, the feet here are really important. Explode out of the dodge and run through. Once you explode past the defender, pass to the next player in line. Also, consider getting a coach in the middle to simulate a defender. Get players to call for the ball. Meanwhile, have the players practice their split dodges going both ways.
In our first shooting drill, we’re looking to simulate players appropriately cutting across the crease and getting shots on the run. So instead of having kids run up in a straight line, you should have the kids start in the attack position and have them pass up to the opposite midfielder. After this, we will then flip it around and have the midfielders pass up to the attackmen near the crease.
Players should catch the ball and shoot immediately. Start by going across with your right hand and always be moving toward the player you are passing to. Also, make sure you encourage shots that bounce on the ground. These shots are much harder for goalies to save as they are unpredictable and tough to pick up. Teach kids to shoot high and low, but also encourage shots on the ground.
**Key Practice Tip: Really consider leaving your goalie out of these warm-up drills at the beginning of practice. He/she should be on the other end getting warmed up. You don’t want them to be in there getting cranked on and have them lose their confidence, especially at this age. Keep them safe and ensure they still want to play the position.
Next, switch up the drill with midfielders passing up to attackers. Keep up the communication, make sharp cuts, and always be moving.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Run a Youth Lacrosse Practice” with Jason Breyo. To check out more videos focusing on youth lacrosse drills and practice organization, visit our video library.