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It’s no secret that face-offs in lacrosse have a direct correlation to the outcome of any particular game. Simply, if you increase your face-off winning percentage, you’ll retain more possessions, control the pace of play, and ultimately have a better chance at winning.
Tufts head coach Mike Daly credits increased face-off work in practice as a key reason for his team’s championship run in 2010. This week you’ll get a chance to learn some of Daly’s most effective face-off drills before seeing them played out live in practice. Look to implement these drills in practice this season and improve on your face-off winning percentage and overall transition game.
This is a terrific face-off drill that involves transition aspects. We’ll start with two face-off units, brown vs. white. The winning face-off team will attack 6-on-5. Whichever team loses the draw, that face-off man will be immediately out of the drill. From there, the drill moves into a 6-on-5 transition opportunity, which is quite common in lacrosse off the draw.
Thunderdome is ideal for working on realistic transition and face-off situations. Also, it implements the mindset that we are attacking in these situations and whenever we get an unsettled situation. This is a big part of Tufts lacrosse and is instrumental to the program’s success.
Key: After claiming possession, the winning team should be crashing the crease and pushing it fast. Coaches should look to keep score in this drill. Have the players really push the transition breaks, get in a lot of reps, and make constant communication.
This effective 3 v 3 drill particularly incorporates the wing players. Even if you lose the draw, your team still has a chance at the ball, and that’s where the wing players really come into play. The face-off battle is such a key part of the game and being able to retain possessions. It’s imperative that your short sticks on the wings box out their opponents.
Start with two face-off guys going at it at the X. Then set up the other wing players on opposite sides of the midline. Remember, we don’t just judge who wins a possession by who wins the clamp, it’s about which team gets the possession. This 3 v 3 drill plays out until the ball is in the box.
For the right wing, his job is to come in and hopefully be physical against the long pole and box him out. It’s key he keeps the long pole away from the scrum and out of the middle. Be physical, box out, and don’t let the opponent be part of the equation.
Tip: Use variation with your long poles in the drill. Have them at various points on the field. Sometimes it depends on the particular players taking the draw. Sag them towards the offensive side of the field, for instance, if they have the advantage at the X.
Meanwhile, make sure that you always have a game plan with the wings. Don’t just react to teams and opposing players.
Also, constantly remind your players that it’s not a face-off win until you get the ball into the box. You can still win possession even if they have the ball. Ride hard and be physical and come up with the turnover before it goes into the box.
Finally, communication is crucial here. Players need to tell each other where they are on the field so they can get in position to make plays. Once you pick it up, look to spread out so you don’t let the defenders double team.
The Tufts men’s lacrosse program is well known for its high-tempo attack and effective transition game. The squad’s proficiency in these areas is a major reason why the Jumbos are regarded as one of the best programs in Div. III lacrosse — particularly after posting a 38-4 record the last two seasons and earning the 2010 national title.
The Bez Drill is just one of many effective transition drills the team uses to prepare for game situations. This continuous practice drill moves at a quick pace and gives players a number of reps in a short period of time. With Tufts head coach Mike Daly leading you through the drill, make sure that you pick up some tips and insights and then see how you can incorporate the drill into your own practice plan.
This drill is named after one of the team’s all-time favorite players, Alexander Bezdek. The Jumbos use it all the time. It’s not only a great competition drill, but it emphasizes everything that we do as a team — stylistically, tempo-wise, philosophy, etc. While it may be somewhat similar to what other teams may run, we throw in a few wrinkles.
The Bez Drill is a constant 3-on-2. Each team will come down on a 3-on-2 break every time. For the team that comes down, the guy that ends the play (whether it be from scoring, turning it over, or whatever) is out of the drill, and the other two guys get back. Immediately, the other teams comes down on those two guys on a 3-on-2 situation.
There’s no time for a momentum mistake, no time to worry about a mistake. Instead, it’s back on defense or offense. No matter what happened previously, we’re focused on taking the next opportunity as it really mimics our style of play. There are a lot of things happening here, good and bad.
Meanwhile, this drill particularly helps with creating runs on offense and stopping runs on the defensive side of the field. It requires proper stick handling and a focus on fundamentals for our defensive personnel, especially because they are handling the ball and running the breaks.
For Tufts, the team is most successful when playing as a unit, sharing the ball, making that extra pass, and not settling for outside shots.
Next, Coach Daly provides the play-by-play as the drill happens. It’s a constant 3-on-2, involves a ton of quick looks, and really develops confidence to shoot off the pass. It also develops confidence in defenders, like knowing when to cut or when to attack on cage. This is all developing here.
Also, it’s an effective drill because we can emphasize many of the little things we do on transition. It’s a very compettive situation. For Tufts, something is always on the line, like pushups, drink break, etc. Like in a game, it always matters.
The previous clips can be seen in Championship Productions’ DVD “Transition Drills for Building an Up-Tempo Offense” with Mike Daly. Check out more videos focusing on transition lacrosse by visiting our lacrosse library.