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.