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This week’s player development feature focuses on improving offensive output through a series of high-intensity shooting drills. Led by Salisbury men’s lacrosse coach Jim Berkman, the drills work on finishing inside, shooting in a tight situation, plus head, hands and stick fakes, and shooting on the run.
This is a terrific drill for attackmen as it forces players to always move their feet. Set up three goals right next to each other in a line. Assemble feeders in a box formation around this confined space, with one shooter on the crease. Meanwhile, this drill allows you to work on your hands, head fakes, stick fakes, scoring down low, and catching the ball tight on the crease.
Feeders will take turns passing to the shooter on the inside. Shooters should always be moving their feet and constantly moving. Really work on finishing the ball inside. Players should turn to the outside to catch the ball and always be communicating with their teammates on each pass.
This is part of our attack shooting series. Align a set of cones to the sides of the cage and two sets on opposite sides just behind the cage. One at a time, players will start straight behind the cage and make a dodge behind the net at one side of the cones. Players will then rolls the other way around and to the side of the cage. After one players goes one way, the next player in line goes the opposite way. It’s a quick drill, and players are constantly moving. Once they reach the next set of cones on the side of the cage, they should make an inside roll move and deliver a quick shot on net.
This drill is perfect for working on footwork, stickwork, and shooting in a tight space close to the net.
This shooting drill has a similar set up to the last drill. This time, we will have players make two quick change of direction moves behind the goal. Next, they will turn to the outside at the cones and deliver a “question mark” shot on net at the island (i.e.: where the cones are set up on the wings). If you’re wandering what a question mark shot is, you can compare it to a fadeaway power shot with a slight jump and is used to create power and separation from an opponent.
The Rocker Step Drill has the same setup as before. Start with two change of direction moves behind the net. Once players reach the side island, they will make a quick fake one way before delivering a quick shot on net the other way. It’s almost like a fast shoulder fake or head fake before the shot.
This one is similar to our inside roll before, but now we must use a line of cones at a 45 degree angle. These will direct us on where to roll and shoot. One at a time, players will sprint to the furthest outside cone, make their inside roll move, follow the line of cones in front of the cage, and deliver a quick shot. Make sure that you alternate sides that you shoot at. When starting out, players will sprint straight to a cone behind the net before making a quick deke move into one direction.
Finally, get three cages set up next to each other. Place two buckets out in front of the middle cage. In this drill, we are working on catching the ball inside, making one quick fake, and drilling the ball down off hip, or right into the corner. Players will first make a pass to a shooter before cutting and becoming shooters themselves. Players should move their feet while passing the ball before cutting hard around the buckets. Once around the buckets, players will receive the next pass and make a quick shot on net.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “How to Create a Great Shooter and Individual Player” starring Jim Berkman. To learn about more shooting videos, check out our extensive lacrosse catalog.
Check out these two team drills used by the Virginia men’s lacrosse team. Head coach Dom Starsia walks you through the drills using whiteboard illustrations before taking his team to the field for live simulations. The drills can be performed at any level of lacrosse and will make for great additions to your team practices this season.
Coach Starsia’s teams have moved away from line drills. Line drills typically don’t simulate things that happen often on a lacrosse field. For Virginia lacrosse, they are better off with this effective stick drill early on in practice.
Offensive players will be at one end of the field and defensive players are at the other end. This drill will be outlined for just the offensive players, but you can use this drill in different shapes and with different groups of players.
The goal here is to pass the ball hard around the perimeter of the field. We can do a variety of things with this. First, we can pass the ball right-handed. Be sure to throw the ball hard and stay in your own lines. One guy will pass the ball and then step to the end of the line.
Then if you want to fly through the drill, you add a second ball to hard corners. Now, you simulate the passes thrown in a 1-4-1 offense. Then you can turn it around and have the guys throw it left-handed.
We talk about throwing the ball as hard as you can. One of the biggest challenges that players face from high school to college is learning to exchange the ball hard. The tendency is to float the ball, but it gets you in trouble more often then not.
Next, players can follow their pass. Also, we can practice V-cuts, cutting in and cutting out, or we can have guys catch the ball right-handed and then throw left-handed. You could do a dodging run. Overall with this, we get a chance to replicate basic stick handling skills that are very important in order for us to run our offense successfully.
Next, we move to full-field drills. Coach Starsia picked this one up from legendary coach Richie Moran in 1978. We will divide the field in half length-wise. Start with three attackers and a goalie on one end. We will then have a line of middies and defenders at the midline. And then we will have another line of middies and defenders at the other end of the field. The goalie will start below the GLE. All of these players will be on the right half of the field length-wise.
We will have two balls going in the drill at the same time. The sequence is as follows: The first middie breaks out and the goalie throws to him, and then he throws to the next middie at the midfield. This players carries up the field. Then there’s a give or carry to the upfield attackman and the ball goes to that attackman.
All three attackers will touch the ball before it moves to the goalie. The ball then immediately heads up the other end of the field like before. Ultimately, we’ll have two balls going on one side of the field and two balls going on the other side of the field – all at once.
It’s important to emphasize for the attackmen to spread out as much as possible. We are looking to stretch out the field. We have a lot of balls going and get a ton of guys handling. All the middies and defenders are handling as they move up the field. We wind up with a lot of stickwork with guys in motion. The drill is also helpful because it gets everyone moving and making realistic movements and passes.
It takes a very specific skillset to be able to play on the inside effectively. After all, this is where the action off the ball really takes place. Players must demonstrate an ability to be accurate on net, have a quick release, take hits from the defense, make convincing cuts, and get open.
In this week’s skill development feature, Johns Hopkins assistant coach Bobby Benson reveals key tips and techniques when playing on the inside. This breakdown places a particular emphasis on 2-v-2 play with two crease attackers. Then, learn two new drills that focus on catching the ball inside, setting effective screens, plus making good cuts and finishing on cage.
Often when we play inside, we feature just one crease attackman. However, there are a variety of offenses used today that implement two crease attackers, like the 2-2-2 offense. With two attackers in the mix, the ability to play together effectively is key if you want to have success on the crease. It’s vital that players communicate so they can cut and get open on the inside together. You must talk in order to be successful.
A slide by the defense can often make life a lot easier for the offense. For instance, when the ball is behind the cage and the defense slides, and we haven’t yet set a screen, we can now just separate and try to find a gray area. If we already went through a screen, we can then screen the second slide and come right off of it. But we also need to get open when the defense isn’t sliding at all.
When the Ball is Back Right
When the ball is back right, our crease guys have options on what they can do. First, if the defense is inside one of our crease guys, we can try to seal the ball-side defender that gets caught inside. Now our opposite crease guy can cut right off what is now a double screen. If his defender follows him, he will curl to the ball and make a sharp cut. However, if his defender ducks underneath, he can flare or fade into the open area for a spot feed. This happens most frequently on passes across X behind.
When the Ball is Back Left
When the ball is back left, the defense is taught to be ball-side of their man. Therefore on that pass, we can often screen our own guy before he can get outside of us. Now we can come off and play. If we can’t get outside of our own guy, and the defense does a good job of forcing us to the inside, then we can go ahead and screen across.
When setting screens, we need to make sure that we are square to where the cutter is going. Don’t set a screen with the shoulder. These screens are too easy to get around. Instead, set the screen with your chest, back or butt, and facing where the cutter is going. Just make sure you’re square to where he’s going to cut.
If the defense doesn’t switch on the screen, then the read is the same. If the defense comes around and follows, we should curl and cut to the ball. If the defender ducks underneath, then we should step away to the open area for a spot feed. Also, if the defender tries to jump to the top-side of the screen early, we can go backdoor.
Be sure to notice where the screens take place – always about 7-8 yards out and to the opposite pipe. If we don’t do this, we won’t have enough room to operate effectively. Also, if we set our screen and the defense switches screens inside, look to flare or feed into that open area. There’s no point in cutting to the defender. After the seal, we should go right to the ball.
For this drill, we’ll get four guys on the perimeter. These guys will be skeleton players. There’s also 2-on-2 action on the inside and this is live. As the ball moves around the perimeter, the guys inside are constantly moving around and getting open with the goal to score. This is the perfect opportunity for inside players to work on their communication, cuts, working off the ball, and finishing on net.
This drill really helps with catching the ball inside and finishing. We’ll have one player inside and five feeders around the perimeter. Number the feeders 1 through 5. 1 will be lower right, 2 will be lower left, 3 will be top left, 4 will be top center, and 5 will be top right.
Whichever number the the coach yells out, our crease player will then have to go get the ball from that number and finish it. This inside player will be continuously cutting in the circle, back and forth, and finishing as many balls as he can in a certain period of time. Each perimeter player will have three balls, so it’s 15 total shots per player.
Notice that the inside player is working on catching the ball, getting it in and out of his stick quickly, and putting it in the goal quickly – all while keeping his feet moving the entire time. Don’t catch the ball with your feet still. Keep the feet moving so that defenders will have a tougher time checking you.
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.