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This week’s player development feature emphasizes ground ball skills and individual stickwork. The following drills will get your players a lot of touches on the ball, tons of repetitions, and should help them build a strong aerobic base. The drills are first diagrammed on the whiteboard and then carried out on the field by the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team.
This drill replicates situations when you are getting pursued on a ground ball. It’s different than facing uncontested ground balls, as now you have some pressure from behind or the side. It’s also about being able to scoop and escape from a variety of different ways and then finding your teammate.
The four players involved are the Roller, Scooper, Chaser, and Baseline. Start this drill at the top of the box or midfield line. Get your roller up top and then the rest of the players almost stacked together.
The roller has all the balls. His job is to roll balls toward the scooper and to control the placement of balls (mixing it up quite a bit). The scooper’s job is to scoop the ball up, but he must feel the pressure behind. Then he must explode on the ball, listen to his baseline teammate, escape, get his hands free, and then throw a possession pass. Making that first pass after the pressure is really critical. Meanwhile, the relationship between the two is crucial to success and escape. The scooper often powers through it with communication from his baseline man (saying things like, “Roll right” or “Pressure on left hip”, etc.).
The baseline man is movable and vocal. The decision now is: Can I throw this ball without being checked? Can I throw it without having to pass through the chaser’s stick? If he can’t, look to split dodge or turn to elude the defense. Then it will be easier for the player to make the pass to the baseline man. The scooper now reads the chaser and can make jump cuts and backdoor cuts to get open.
Get a line of players ready to go. Next, get a coach with a ball and a stick, plus some spare balls back behind the players. “Around the Clock” is a rapid fire drill designed to get a lot of repetitions and touches.
Have the coach set up in the middle of the field by himself and with a ball. He will start by rolling out an uncontested ground ball towards the first player in line. This player will then come up with the goal to pick it up as fast as he can, move his feet, and get the ball back to the coach. The coach will adjust his position and then roll out another ground ball, this time to the next guy in line.
Like a clock, the coach will move all around the field, switching from the left to the right, or moving out in front or to the side. Players should get the ball in and out of their stick as fast as possible. The great thing about this drill is that it allows for creativity on the player’s part. Look to implement a variety of different stick skills and maneuvers, like goosing, rollaways, and more.
Tip: Get your hands in a good position on the stick. Your top hand should be at the top of stick and your bottom hand should be at the bottom of the stick. Come up with a nice cradle, get in a protect position, and quickly move the ball to the next open teammate.
Individual ball handling and ground ball drills are two staples of Notre Dame lacrosse practices. Often used at the beginning of each practice, the drills reinforce good habits and demand attention each day. The following drills — first diagrammed on the whiteboard and then carried out on the field — will allow your players to get a lot of touches on the ball, repetitions, and build a strong aerobic base.
The goal with the Ball Bag Drill is to give all players as many ground ball repetitions as possible in a short period of time. We can also give them some element of creativity and ownership of how to run the drill.
Typically used by Notre Dame at the start of each practice, the drill essentially consists of one player, one ball, and 10-15 yards of space. We use one half of the field and take our players and spread them out all over and around the goal area (on the sides, behind, out in front, etc.). Each person owns his/her own 10-15 yard area has his/her own ball. Players will roll the ball out in front, scoop it up, and then perform some kind of ground ball maneuver.
As a coach, look to position yourself in a place where you can see all of the players and coach them as they are doing it. On the whistle, they will begin the drill. There are three different increments: 15 seconds, 30 seconds, and 45 seconds. We will also test the players conditioning-wise to make sure they are still maintaining technique at the end of drill.
The job of the coach is to make sure the players are going full speed and are doing every type of iteration they can do with a ground ball, such as dropping at their feet, rolling away, kicking, using hockey moves, scooping through, scooping and backpedaling, scooping and changing hands, scooping and walking the dog to cut another player off, and scooping and walking the dog and rolling away to get the hands free to throw a pass to an open man.
Benefits: The key here is to give the players as many ground balls in the time period as possible. They can practice all kinds of ground ball situations this way. It’s also a conditioning drill, too. Notice that the heads of the players are curling, they are shielding their body from potential defenders, using their feet, and using the head of the stick – all things they may find in a ground ball situation.
The Yo-Yo Drill has similar goals as before: tons of reps, ability to be creative, and a great conditioner. Plus, the drill replicates scenarios the players will typically find in a game.
At the midline or top of the box, set the players up into pairs. Each group has a defined area (or lanes) so they don’t run into each other. You can set up 15, 30, and 45-second increments in this drill, too.
One player in each pair starts with a ball. Each time they will roll the ball out. They will first roll it out to 10 yards, then 15 yards. The ball will roll out and the defender in each group (D2) will chase the ball down. He will scoop, turn and make a curl, and each time he will turn a different way. He scoops, turns and throws a pass back to D1. After the pass, he breaks toward D1 and now D1 rolls the ball to D2. The partner now scoops and throws a pass or scoops and flips. After he gives the ball up, he circles around his partner and his partner throws another ball out, this time to 15 yards. And the drill continues like before.
Benefits: Heavy repetitions, strong technique, lots of changes, and builds an aerobic base.
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.
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.