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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.