Whether you’re a new lacrosse lacrosse or a seasoned veteran, it’s critical to always create a blueprint for how to run your youth lacrosse practice. In our previous youth lacrosse feature, we highlighted many key tips and drills for a productive practice, focusing on crucial areas such as partner passing, stick drills, ground balls, shooting, and dodging.
This week’s feature focuses on 1-on-1 drills and then builds up to 2-on-2’s, 4-on-4’s, and a few motion drills that teach kids proper movement on the field. With Lambert (GA) coach Jason Breyo leading the way, be sure to pick up these essential drills, teaching points, and overall lacrosse tips for leading a youth practice at the U11 level.
1-on-1 lacrosse is a cornerstone of the team game. We’ll begin with a four corner 1-on-1 set up. Get the attack and defense at one end and the midfielders at the other end. Everyone will get a chance to play offense and defense. Also, you can finally incorporate a warmed-up goalie in these drills. Move clockwise with all segments on the field. Go back and forth down the field (almost in zigzags) and teach the defender to drop step. Offensively, your players can implement face dodges and other moves to try and get past the opposition.
Keep in mind that when teaching kids to play defense at this age, it’s often helpful to teach them about simulating basketball defense. Get into a good low position, stay on the balls of your feet, and have your feet be shoulder width apart.
Whether it’s with offensive sets or transition breaks, so much lacrosse at every level involves the 2-on-2 game. Next in the progression, we’ll have two midfielders and two defensive midfielders working together. Behind the cage, we’ll have two attackers and two simulated defenders working together as well.
When it comes to playing defense in a 2-on-2 setting, we like to demonstrate the principle of Ball-Me-Man. While the on-ball defender wants to force his opponent down the alley, the off-ball defender assumes a help position. Here, he can see the ball and his man. If the ball goes to his man, he can recover quickly. Then the former on-ball defender moves into help defense positioning. As for movement, at this age, we encourage movement of any kind, although picks and dodges are always an option. Also, really encourage kids to utilize the space behind the cage.
Next, get four midfielders, two attackers, and two defenders ready to go. Here, we’re teaching offense and defense in a 4-on-4 format. The key here is to get frequent ball movement by passing and cutting. Remember, there is no contact at the U11 level, and this helps develop stick skills and promotes safety. Therefore, it’s key for kids to move their feet and never stand around. Like with basketball, you can’t get open without moving your feet.
C-Curl or Banana Curl – The C-Curl is a great way to teach kids proper movement on the field. For instance, to get out of the way when picking up a ground ball, kids will often pick the ball up and run in a linear fashion. However, that will get you into trouble a lot and can lead to turnovers. Instead, teach kids to roll away from pressure and curl around to the side.
Start by rolling a ball out. The offensive player will scoop it up (with a trailer/defender on his back) and look to hit his outlet man in the drill. Once he scoops the ball, he should make a C-Curl to escape pressure and pass to an open teammate. Remember, curl out of pressure, roll, and hit the outlet man. Do not encourage picking up ground balls with one hand either.
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.