Monday, November 5, 2007

Reasons we do Lacrosse Drills

Lacrosse drills are used to teach and practice specific skills required for gameday. As a coach of a youth lacrosse team, I make sure that every drill that we run at training has a specific purpose and the skills developed in the drill can be directly applied to the game. Before I introduce a new drill to practice, I explain to the players the purpose of the drill and encourage them to approach it with game like intensity and to actually think about what they are doing and why. You don't want your players simply going through the motions for the sake of it.

It is also my philosophy (and I'm sure many others) that practice should be a time when players are given the freedom to experiment and make mistakes. It is a time when players should work on weaknesses without the fear of reprimand. I encourage all of my players to spend as much time on their opposite hands as possible. Sure, more passes are dropped than if the were on their natural hands but this is practice and it does not matter.

A great lacrosse drill that forces players to use their opposite hand is the double star drill. I need to draw up a diagram of this drill for you because its hard to explain with words alone. Stay tuned and I'll fill you in on this beauty next time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lacrosse Drills for shooting

From my experience as a lacrosse player and a lacrosse coach, there are not enough lacrosse drills based on shooting alone. It is one of the most important elements of the game. Having an attack line full of powerful and accurate shooters is a real force to be reckoned with. Your players should be encouraged to practice their shooting in their own time as well as at regular team practice. It really is an individual skill that can be taught but it really is up to each player the amount of time and effort they want to put into it.

Below is an STX K18 video featuring Kyle Harrison, one of the best midfielders in the game. He describes how he practices his shooting in his own time giving great emphasis in practicing at game like pace. Shoot at practice like you would shoot in a game!

One of the best attackman ever to play the game of lacrosse is Tom Marechek. He is one of the best shooters ever and has absolutely amazing stick skills. He has released a DVD called Behind Lacrosse: Shoot Like A Pro with Tom Marechek and I highly recommend this to all players AND coaches!

I think one of the most important things is that as a player, you should practice your individual skills in your own time. The best lacrosse players in the world did this from a very early age and it has unlimited rewards. If you are a coach encourage you players to do their own individual lacrosse drills in their own time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lacrosse Drills inspired by other sports

Playing lacrosse is great fun but practice can often become monotonous with the same old lacrosse drills each week. If you get a chance, go and watch games and training sessions for other sports. The plays and drills they run might just translate to lacrosse. Perhaps you can vary them to fit into your lacrosse training sessions.

As an Australian lacrosse player and coach, I love spending time at the beach. I saw an event at a surf life saving competition called the "flag race". The "flags" are lengths of plastic garden hose, poked into the sand. The participants lie on the sand, face down and heads away from the flags. At a given signal, the children leap up and run to grab a flag. There are always one or two fewer flags than there are participants, so the slowest are eliminated, just as in musical chairs. And like that party game, the flag race goes on until only one child remains.

Flag Race at Scarborough Beach

I saw this event and thought we could use this as one of our lacrosse drills. Instead of the flags, have lacrosse balls (with 1 fewer ball than participant. The balls are placed on the restraing line and the players lie face down on the end line. On the coaches signal, players jump up and run to get a ball. The player who does not get a ball is out. take another ball out of the game for the next round and repeat until there is only one player left.

This lacrosse drill is great for fitness as the players are jumping up and running many times. The drill can be used at any age group. For more advanced groups, you can vary it by taking out 2 or 3 balls rather than just one and make the players pick up the ball but also run the ball back to the end line. The players who do not get a ball may defend any of the other players with the ball to cause a turnover. Players are only "safe" once they cross the end line.

Have a go at this one and share any other lacrosse drills that you have pinched from other sports.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lacrosse Drills - Variety is the spice of life

When you have played lacrosse for as long as I have (15 years) the same old routine gets boring so it is important for lacrosse coaches to have a large variety of lacrosse drills that they can run on the training track. The more varied each training session is the higher the intensity will be for the session. At the same time, its good to have structure too. I.E, start with ball handling / stick skills, move onto offensive drills then finish with defensive drills. This is just an example of a structure that you can keep but the drills in each focus area should vary from session to session.

Plan each session and don't just make it up as you go. This will lead to repeating the same old lacrosse drills each session. It will get monotonous and some players will switch off mentally.

Block each session into slots of 20 minutes so if you have a 2 hour session you have 6 slots. Decide the focus area of each of the slots and then select drills for those focus areas. Cary a watch during the session and stick to the times that you allocate each slot as this will keep the intensity high which is one of our main goals. Here is an example of a training session plan:

Start Time 12pm
Duration 1 hour 40 minutes

Slot 1 - 20 minutes - Warm up / Stick Skills
  • Players warm up
  • End to end line drill
  • 4 corner break out line drill
  • 4 corner v-cut line drill
Slot 2 - 20 minutes - Offensive
  • Fast break drill
  • Slow break drill
  • 4 attack vs 3 defense
Slot 3 - 20 minutes - Defensive
  • 1 on 1 dodging
  • 2 on 2
  • 3 on 3
Slot 4 - 20 minutes - Scenarios
  • 6 on 6 attack up by 1 goal with 3 minutes remaining (ball retention)
  • 6 on 6 attack down by 1 goal with 2 minutes remaining (need to score)
  • Man down in defense (6 on 5)
  • Man down in offense (5 on 6)
Slot 5 - 20 minutes - Full Field
  • Full field clearing (defensive unit focus)
  • Full field riding (offensive unit focus)
  • Face off with midfielders coming in.
This looks like quite a lot to cover in a single session but that is the idea. Keep the lacrosse drills short and sharp and the players will be motivated and focused. This structure is tried and tested at all levels of lacrosse from kids right up to college and the pro leagues.

Plan your sessions in advance and stick to the plans. Stick to a structure but vary the drills with the structure and each session will be enjoyable and beneficial for you and the players.

The drills above are just a few examples of lacrosse drills and more detail can be found in the many lacrosse coaching books and DVDs available at amazon. Here is my favorite with particularly good lacrosse drills: The Confident Coach's Guide to Teaching Lacrosse.