In the latest edition of All Access, we take you back to Stony Brook, New York for a behind-the-scenes look at a Stony Brook University men’s lacrosse practice. Watch as former head coach Rick Sowell (currently the head coach at Navy) leads his squad through a pre-practice locker room discussion and a number of team drills in preparation for the season opener – which is just days away at the time.
This All Access session presents a terrific opportunity for coaches and players to see how a top-ranked college lacrosse program prepares during the week. In this particular example, Coach Sowell talks with his team in the locker room before reviewing game film from a previous scrimmage. Once the film session is over, the players head out to the field and participate in a number of half-field and man down drills that focus on game-like situations and quick repetitions.
First, on the heels of a two-day rest period, Coach Sowell meets with his squad and talks about effort, intensity, and recent accomplishments. Later on, defensive concepts and key preparation tactics are also discussed. Says Sowell, “Practice like you play so you will play great in big games.”
Coach Sowell then breaks down game film, starting with offensive strategies and making sure players know about their options and what to expect from the defense.
Next, the players take to the field for half-field drills. The team breaks up into two halves of the field, separating the offense and defense. On one side, the offensive players work on catching and shooting in tight spaces around the crease. On the other side of the field, the defense works on clearing under pressure. For instance, there’s a loose ball and the defense must play to space and clear the ball up field while the pressure is on from the riding unit.
The offense then moves into catching, dodging, and shooting on the run about 15 yards from the cage. The drills uses both the right and left sides of the field and goes at game speed. Eventually, the drill moves into catching and firing immediate shots and using a wind-up technique to fire hard on the cage.
Finally, the squad moves into man down drills that focus on back and forth action in a full-field setting. To begin, the offense is in a continual man-up situation. Eventually, the drill moves into 5-on-5 action starting with a transition break and trailer.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Stony Brook Lacrosse Practice with Rick Sowell.” To check out more videos in our All Access catalog, click here.
In this week’s edition of All Access, we take you to Stony Brook, New York for a behind-the-scenes look at a Stony Brook University men’s lacrosse practice. Watch as former head coach Rick Sowell leads his squad through a number of team drills in preparation for the season opener – just two weeks away.
This All Access session presents a great opportunity for coaches and players to see exactly how a top college lacrosse program prepares for opponents during the week. In this example, Coach Sowell talks to his team in the locker room before reviewing game film from a previous contest. Eventually, the players take to the field and run through a variety of ground ball and shooting drills that mimic game-like situations and quick decision-making.
First, Coach Sowell talks with his squad about ways they can get to the fourth quarter and give themselves a chance to win every game. Concepts such as team defense, fundamentals, knowing your role, and establishing a gameplan are all discussed. Says Sowell, “Remember going forward, time and score matters. It must factor into everything we do. Playing your role is also important, especially when trying to set the game plan.”
Next, Sowell reviews video footage from a recent contest, focusing on defensive tactics. Specific player movements are detailed, including how they should react based on offensive passes and dodges.
After the locker room discussion, the team begins practice with a competitive 1-on-1 ground ball drill. Basically, it’s a fight for possession where players must scoop up the ground balls under major pressure. Once they scoop, the player with possession sprints back the other direction and tries to elude the defender. In this scoop and run drill, short sticks may end up going against long sticks. Players will start at a specified line before the coach rolls out a ball. Players can also work on their ground ball moves as well, such as boxing out the defender.
First, one after another, players move across the crease unloading inside shots on cage. This is an opportunity for players to really work on their hands, shooting close to the net, and overall accuracy in a tight space. It’s also a chance for players to practice different shots down low. For instance, changing planes when making a fake. This drill is a great way for players to get a lot of shots in a short amount of time.
Later on, players move into rapid fire shots. There are dozens of balls set on the ground in two areas at the point. One player scoops and passes across before a shooter dodges or carries and fires on net. This drill is a perfect way to get into shooting shape.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Lacrosse Practice with Rick Sowell.” To check out more videos in our All Access lineup, simple head over to our lacrosse catalog here.
In the latest edition of Coaches Corner, Championship Productions editor Adam Warner sits down with new Navy men’s head lacrosse coach Rick Sowell. After going 47-26 in five seasons at Stony Brook and leading his squad to the NCAA quarterfinals in 2010, Sowell accepted the head coaching position at Navy earlier this year. In this week’s Q&A, Sowell explains why he accepted the job at Navy, details one of his all-time favorite drills, and also reveals how his coaching staff prepares during the offseason.
First off, talk about how the transition has been from Stony Brook to Navy?
“It’s been great. It really has. The support surrounding the program has been amazing. Everyone has welcomed me with open arms and it’s been a relatively easy transition.”
What prompted you to take this new challenge with Navy?
“I’ve been fortunate to work at some tremendous academic institutions throughout my career: Georgetown, Dartmouth, St. John’s, and Stony Brook, but this opportunity was unique. The combination of working at such a prestigious institution with young men who aspire to and will someday become future leaders of our great country was a unique opportunity.”
You have a track record of giving new life to programs. What’s been the key to building a new or struggling program into a winner?
“I think there are a variety of factors that come into play. Starting with the team, it’s about changing a culture, or developing one if it’s a new program, which for me is based on being good citizens in the community, working hard both in the classroom and on the field, and doing the right thing at the right time.
On the field, my philosophy is about player development, which I try and keep simple. We look to develop sound fundamental habits, I expect our players to give 100 percent effort every day, and then from there, it’s about utilizing the talent that we have assembled. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with great assistants over the years who have been dedicated to helping me develop these programs.”
Talk about the offseason a bit. It’s now October, what’s the coaching staff currently focused on? Walk through a typical week for the coaches.
“Currently, we are focused on finding out just who we are as a team, what are our strengths and our weaknesses, and how to take advantage of the talent we have here. This process started about a month ago, and I will say it has been fun getting to know the guys, getting to hear their stories and how they ended up at the Naval Academy, and what it means for them to be a part of this program. A big part of it is taking the time to evaluate the kids on the field, in the weight room, and get an opportunity to know them as people. At the same time, we are introducing our philosophy and terminology — whether it’s offense and defense, drills, or clearing. There are lots of things going on at one time.”
What’s a typical Rick Sowell practice like? Is it intense, fun, informative? How would you describe it?
“I would describe my practices as all of the above — intense, fun and informative. I like practices that move along — from drill to drill to drill. We teach the fundamental aspects of the game. I like to keep things simple. Sometimes strategy is overrated so we focus on those little things that will resurface late in a game and could be the difference between winning and losing.
They aren’t necessarily run-and-gun practices. We try to scrimmage every day, and there is no better way to learn the game then to actually play it. As is the case, I believe, with most coaches, the focus shifts from day to day. One day it might be offense, the next day it might be defense.”
Can you think of a favorite drill of yours that you’ve used with your teams over the years? Why is it effective?
“We call it the Breakdown Drill. It’s a 1-on-1 drill. I’m a big fan of dodging off the pass, so many of our dodge drills are off passes. We like to incorporate a pass from the players or coaches throwing to the dodger.
We simply put a bag of balls at the GLE and a dodger will be up in an alley and close enough to catch and shoot it. Or he will make a dodge and make a play off the pass. The defender sags in off ball, and as the ball moves from GLE to the dodger the defender will come out to break down the player. That defender must fly out under the control and defend the dodger as the ball arrives.
This drill forces the defender to stop the offensive player’s momentum and he must run with him. Offensively, it lets you work on different types of dodges and using a defender as a screen. Also, it allows offensive guys to work on creative moves, incorporating stick fakes and shake n bakes. It allows a lot of repetitions. We also don’t like lines being too long. If you ask the Stony Brook guys, this is definitely one of their favorite drills. It’s not all that complicated. We will do it up top, down the alleys, down the middle, from the wings, from behind, and invert. It’s also a chance to develop good moves off the pass. We get a lot out of this drill.”
What’s the best lacrosse moment in your career?
“My senior year, 1985 at Washington College, we broke Hobart’s 44-game Division III win streak. We beat them 8-7 at home in overtime. I had five goals including the game-winner in overtime. That was a tremendous moment. Unfortunately, they beat us in the national title game a month later, so they had the last laugh. I grew up watching Hobart and to be able to break their winning streak was a huge thrill.”
What’s your biggest pet peeve as a coach?
“Velcro. When I’m in the huddle and I hear Velcro it drives me nuts, but the players learn quickly to not do it.”
What are some of your favorite hobbies off the lacrosse field?
“I like to stay fit and try to go to the gym five or six days a week. I try to mix things up, usually lifting or cardio. I also like golf but I stink at it and it is frustrating. I’m the type of athlete who needs to practice to get good at something, but at the end of the day my time is limited, so my improvement has been at a snail’s pace. I also play some basketball. A good workout puts me in a good frame of mind.”
What’s the best advice you can give to a new coach in the game? How about a rising player in the game?
“For coaches, try to gather all the information you can. When you’re young, it’s about trying to develop a philosophy. There are a lot of great coaches out there and you should try to tap into those resources. Go to practices, call them on the phone, and pick their brain. Don’t think you know it all. Be willing to seek information and different types of strategies. Eventually you’ll take certain concepts from different people and form your own philosophy. Try to learn and take in as much as you can and don’t be afraid to reach out.”
“As for players, make sure you play other sports. Be a multi-sport athlete. Especially at a younger age, the more sports you can play, the better — even if it’s just two sports. The value of what you get out of playing other sports far supersedes saying you’ll just focus on playing lacrosse year-round. It’s good to compete in other sports. There’s no better exercise than competition. Also, go to college games or pro games. You can really learn a lot from watching older kids play the game.”
Rick Sowell recently teamed up with Championship Productions to produce the lacrosse DVD “All-Access Lacrosse Practice with Rick Sowell.” To check out more All-Access videos in our extensive library, click here.
If you like this All-Access Lacrosse DVD, check out the following:
All Access Lacrosse Practice with Bill Tierney
All Access Lacrosse Practice with Mike Pressler
All Access Virginia Lacrosse Practice with Dom Starsia
All Access Lacrosse Practice with Cindy Timchal
Kevin Corrigan’s All Access Lacrosse Practice
All-Access Duke Lacrosse, Volume I: One-on-One and Team Drills
All-Access Duke Lacrosse, Volume II: Individual Skills and Full Field Drills