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Coaching: Building The Best Players, Practice Implementation and Skills. 1. What level team are you? Youth? Middle School? High School?.

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slide1

Coaching:

BuildingThe BestPlayers, Practice Implementation and Skills

1 what level team are you youth middle school high school
1. What level team are you? Youth? Middle School? High School?

Youth: Youth coaches are the real money earners in the coaching profession. Your practices need to be the perfect combination of fun and instructional. The emphasis should be on skills—stickwork, groundball drills—and small-field games. Lacrosse is lacrosse no matter what size field you play on. NO LONGSTICKS UNTIL KIDS ARE AT LEAST 13.

Middle School: This is where you begin to have serious lacrosse players. The conceptual side of the sport becomes more important. Skills have been mastered, now it’s time to think outside the helmet.

High School: Coaching at the secondary school varsity level should be approached with the same organizational intensity as college coaching (if not more). You are preparing with winning games in mind, and you’re adjusting your plans depending on performance. At the JV level, you are trying to mirror what is done at the varsity level, while also understanding skill limitations.

2 why plan why not just wing it my players do half the time anyway
2. Why Plan? Why not just wing it (my players do half the time anyway)?
  • You have no other choice: In some ways, practice, is all you have as a coach. By the time games roll around, it’s too late. Games are won during the week.
  • Order in the court, order on the field: Good teams are disciplined teams. Discipline comes from the coach and the coach’s preparation. A good practice plan establishes order and organization. Every team’s game-day performance is a referendum on their practice performance.
  • With knowledge comes confidence: Preparation breeds confidence. Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.
  • Efficiency…breeds efficiency. Don’t waste time in your practices!
  • Believe it or not: Players want, even crave, organization. Provide it for them.
3 what are your goals for the day for the week how about the season
3. What are your goals? For the day? For the week? How about the season?

Building Blocks: A practice plan, like the team it represents, is a fluid, organic creature. Your last game, win or lose, will dictate your emphasis in your next practice.

Be Goal Oriented: Identify macro and micro goals for your players (goals for a season, goals for a week, goals for a specific practice). 65% EMO/EMD, # Ground-balls per game, goals per game, etc…

Be Progressional: Start small. Think from micro to macro, or if you think macro, start micro. Small sided, small field, small numbers.

Each practice should generally have a specific goal in mind: All drills will be tailored towards that end. All drills need not be specifically related to this, but any time you’re addressing your team directly in a “concept” based talk, have it be related to your core goal.

4 scheduling how does this help hurt me
4. Scheduling? How does this help/hurt me?

What time does practice start? Is your start time close to the end of the school day? Is it late at night? Are players driving in? Busing in? Carpooling? Parents driving them? Recognize and consider your players “life” realities and plan for them (and how they’re going to effect what you try to do at practice).

Assume…there’s almost always a fifteen-minute, post-school, post-day, post-arrival hangover. Recognize that your players are going to be sluggish at first and figure out how you want to deal with this so it doesn’t make you completely crazy. My advice: HIT ‘EM HARD EARLY!

5 pacing a lacrosse coach s version of poetry there is a mix of science feel and rhythm to it
5. Pacing…A lacrosse coach’s version of poetry—there is a mix of science, feel and rhythm to it.

The Wave Concept: managing your action, intensity, instruction and play as a series of waves with highs and lows.

Things to be aware of… When do you instruct? When do you up the pace? When do you sense attention waning?

Balance…your high intensity, “fun” drills with your instructional segments. Make you instructional segments brief and manageable. Small units.

A good way to manage pacing is: THE WAVE CONCEPT

Don’t assume your players have attention spans beyond five minutes (at best). Make sure that your drills and instruction—and how the two are dispersed throughout your practice—take into account the fact that kids get bored, BORED, BORED. Pacing is the key to any

good practice. For you AND your players.

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6. How are you going to organize your players?How do you balance the desire to help beginners with wanting to push your team to develop.

Strike a balance: You don’t want to hold back your skilled players, nor do you want to put your weaker players in positions where they are clearly behind in their skills. At the same time you want to make sure your weaker players are being pushed and your stronger players are understanding how “TEAM” means having to provide leadership and guidance to younger/weaker players.

Use Stations/Groups Where Possible: Anytime you can divide the players into smaller groups where they’re working with like-skilled players.

Assume the players know where they stand: If you know whether a kid is strong or weak, chances are they do as well.

Remind these players that the goal is always to

get better. Improvement. Improvement.

7 how much variation do my plans drills need
7. How much variation do my plans/drills need?
  • You need just enough variation to keep players on their toes
  • Some familiarity is good, you want consistency and to be able to move from drill to drill without too much explanation. Too much familiarity is bad.
  • Always be on the look-out for new stick-work drills (we have thousands)
  • Some methods feel old and routine because they work—there’s just no way around it!
  • Name ALL of your drills…so that your players know what drill is coming next and can get into it quickly. This will aid in overall efficiency and will allow your players to feel a greater sense of
  • personal accountability and involvement.
things you must have
Things you MUST have…

BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. And more BALLS. Spend whatever money you have available to your program on balls. Don’t EVER buy rebounders. Kids can find brick walls. Use that money to buy BALLS. At the end of practice be an absolute tyrant about your BALL HUNTS. Every ball is not a ball it is an opportunity to get better.

Whistles. Don’t ever come to practice without one. Keep extras in your car for your idiot coaches who always forget.

Cones. Kids are attracted to orange cones. No one knows why, it’s a mystery of biology and science. Put cones down all over the place.

STOP WATCH. I run all of my practices off a stop watch. I time passing drills, stick drills. A clock counting down creates a sense of urgency that keeps players focused.

Did I mention BALLS?

the basic components i have
The Basic Components I have:
  • Dynamic Warm-up, Stick-work
  • Fun Game Segments: Ground-Balls Games, Relay Race
  • Concept Specific Drills (Offensively and Defensively)
  • Small Field Transition Games
  • 3v3s, 4v4s
  • Numbers Recognition Drills
  • Full Field Scrimmage/Game
  • 6v6 Half Field Drills
1 what are the best players what are the components that go into making the best players
1. What arethe bestplayers? What are the components that go into makingthe bestplayers?

Athleticism – No explanation necessary…

Lacrosse specific skill – Includes (but is not limited to): the ability to throw and catch with both hands, the ability to shoot and pass accurately with both hands, the ability to pick up groundballs, the ability to play on-ball and off-ball defense, the ability to play on-ball and off-ball defense…

Lacrosse Specific IQ – Includes (but is not limited to): having an intellectual and strategic understanding of the above mentioned skills on both a “micro” and “macro” level…

General Sports IQ – Includes (but is not limited to): having a basic intellectual and strategic understanding of how sports—in general—work and function on a strategic basis. I.e. possessing the ability to understand that a 2v1 is a 2v1 is a 2v1…

Character/Intangibles – See athleticism…

2 what is micro and macro
2. What is “micro” and “macro”?
  • The sports brain should be composed to two intertwined and equally important “sensibilities” the “micro” and the “macro”.
  • Micro – For simplicities sake we will define micro as an individual, player based awareness. A player’s micro sensibility refers to their ability to understand and grasp the nuances and functionalities of their own behavior… “As a player I am aware of my own dodges, my own passes, my own shots, and why (how) I do any one of these things…” More simply understood as a player’s unique and individual skill-set.

Macro – Given our understand of a “micro” sensibility, we will thus define a “macro” sensibility as a players ability to understand how their micro sensibility interacts with greater lacrosse context of a team, a game, and a given play… “As a player I am aware of how my own dodges, passes and shots, function within the greater context of the team concept or whole…”

More simply understood as a players ability to understand why a team does what it does and how the individual’s participation decisions to do it affects team play.

3 lacrosse as in any sports offers a wide variety of definitions for what the best is and can be
3. Lacrosse, as in any sports, offers a wide variety of definitions for whatthe bestis and can be…

A player can bethe bestasset to a team for any number of reasons, be them positional—i.e. as a fogo, or LSM—or purely skill based—i.e. as a feeder, a shooter, a dodger…

No one skill is that much more important—in the grand scheme of things—than any other, in that they all function together in order to succeed. Shooters need feeders, feeders need dodgers, dodgers need…face off guys...

Part of being a good youth lacrosse coach is helping your players to develop as many of these skills sets as possible, while also—and at the same time—determining what skill set or role represents them best. Putting players in a position to succeed requires both.

slide18

1. TheBest“Offensive” Lacrosse Player*

*At the youth lacrosse level (and even at the college to a certain extent), players simply play offense. Versatility is far and away the most valuable asset in a lacrosse player.

1 the skills of a the best offensive lacrosse player
1. The skills of athe bestoffensive lacrosse player

Athleticism – Speed, agility, balance, strength, coordination

Lacrosse specific skill – Passing, Catching, Shooting, Scooping, Dodging

Lacrosse Specific IQ – Understanding off-ball movement as it relates to on-ball movement, understanding balance and spacing as it relates to a team offense, understanding how the “micro” and “macro” interact (a.k.a.: why we do what we do when we do it.)

Character/Intangibles – Intelligence, unselfishness, patience, composure, all-round dedication to being a PHD player (poor, hungry, driven).

play play play run run run
Play…play…play…run…run…run…

That’s it.

  • Make sure that you’re keeping your players and practices as active and up-tempo as possible. The more running the better.
  • Don’t be afraid to take your practices and your players outside of the traditional lacrosse concepts with your games and drills.
  • There’s Good, There’s Better and There’s BEST. Demand the player’s perform every drill, pass, dodge, cut, ect.. to the best of their ability.
  • Foster competition. Every drill has a winner and a loser (that’s ultimately why we play).
  • Demand, yes, DEMAND, that your player play other sports. Don’t be a sports-specific tyrant.
  • The rest is out of your control.
the most important skill we teach no joke
The most important skill we teach (no joke)…

The fundamentals:

  • The feet (this is where it all starts): The feet should be perpendicular to the intended passing target. The front, or lead, shoulder should be pointed at the intended target. No hips. No “beach mentality!”
  • The hands: Top hand controls at all times. Stick sits in the finger tips of the top hand. Bottom hand on the butt. Top hand ten inches above (encourage players to use tape).
  • The “laser” pointer: The butt-end of a lacrosse stick serves as a laser pointer. Wherever that thing is pointed, that’s where a pass is going.
  • 180 Degrees: The stick must be flat and parallel to the ground at the start of a lacrosse throw. Too many younger players start between 180 and 90 and “push” their passes. At the end, the stick must cover then entire 180 degrees until it is pointed at its target.
  • The Wrist: The wrist snap, much as in throwing a baseball, is where the last “snap” of power on a lacrosse pass or shot is achieved. Lacrosse sticks are designed with this “snap” in mind.
  • Self-diagnosing skill: Teach your players to self-correct.
  • Target practice: DEMAND that players hit the target.
the second most important skill
The second most important skill…

The fundamentals:

  • The grip: The stick should be in the fingers with soft hands and loose wrists.
  • The hands: The top hand should slide up to the plastic whenever a player is learning to catch. As they progress with the skill they can learn to slide that hand down. (Note: players should always relocate the top hand before throwing.)
  • No snapping or cradle catching: The most frequently seen mistake players make. Snapping leads to missed passes and the extension of hands out of the triple threat position.
  • Give with passes: It’s an egg. A water balloon. Pick your analogy, metaphor or simile.
  • Triple-threat/Box: Whatever you want to call it, teach your players the value of keeping their stick in the optimal position. Elite level players do things quickly—more quickly than everyone else—keeping the stick at the ear helps eliminate valuable seconds and wasted motion. BE EFFICIENT WITH YOUR MECHANICS.
slide26

Shooting*:

*Shooting is essential as important as these. It’s nothing more than passing at a higher rate of speed.

slide27

The fundamentals:

  • The feet : The feet should be perpendicular to the intended passing target (at the start). The front, or lead, shoulder should be pointed at the intended target.
  • The fingers and hands: Top hand controls at all times. Stick sits in the finger tips of the top hand. Bottom hand on the butt. Top hand below where it would be for shooting.
  • The “laser” pointer: The butt-end of a lacrosse stick serves as a laser pointer. Wherever that thing is pointed, that’s where a pass is going.
  • The 180 (or more) Degrees: Just as with passing he stick must be flat and parallel to the ground at the start of a lacrosse shot. Unlike with passing, it can go beyond that depending on how strong a player’s wrists are (or how capable he is with using, and taking advantage of, his stick’s technology)
  • The Wrist: This is where it all comes into play, the stronger a player’s wrist the better a shooter he’s going to be.
  • Overhand (at the start): Teach your players the fundamentals of an overhand shot, but expect (know) they’re going to want more. So train it!
  • Hands up, arms back. Bite your shoulder. Step down
  • Don’t over coach: Some players (lefties) just get it.
the biggest hurdle we have as coaches are
The biggest hurdle we have as coaches are…

1) Teaching kids to properly handle their stick without losing our minds: We are trying to develop “two-handed” players, but we’re frustrated by their lack of facility with their weak hand. They can’t switch hands. They can’t execute dodges. They don’t know how to move.

2) Developing “good” muscle memory: The key to building perfect lacrosse players is reps, reps and more reps. Too many drills require us to stand around in lines while not getting repeated reps that will effectively develop our skills.

3) Keeping kids active busy: Idle hands are the devils…yeah, you get the idea, a kid standing around yawning is a kid not doing anything productive.

so how do we deal with these problems
So how do we deal with these problems…

Put kids in drills where they are repeating the same rep over and over and over

Keep lines short

Develop drills where players repeated multiple skills in every rep

BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS. BALLS.

key points things to remember
Key Points/Things to Remember

Make this fun: Keep a stop watch. Do this in short segments (two minutes). Do something else, come back to it.

Don’t let the kids make it boring: Kids want to make this drill boring. It’s not. And shouldn’t be.

Count passes: Get players in the habit of counting passes, setting goals for themselves, breaking records. This will help build those intangibles.

Keep track of the victors: Reward the players who excel, but every once in a while…

Force people to switch partners: You don’t want the same kids dominating each time, but you don’t want them to get bored or frustrated throwing with lesser talented kids (or vice versa for the weaker players). But every so often, doseydo (slide everyone one partner to their right.)

Focus on the pass: This is (still) most important.

the matrix
The Matrix

One Handed: Right

Two Handed: Right

One Handed: Left

Two Handed: Left

Canadian: Catch Right/Backhand Throw Left – Catch Left/Backhand Throw Right

Bad Pass: Throw Right to Leftside/Backhand Catch/Bring to Right and Throw – Throw Left to Rightside/Backhand Catch/Bring to left and Throw

Back to Back: Catch Back Shoulder Right/Twist Throw To Back Shoulder Right – Catch Back Shoulder Left/Twist Throw to Back Shoulder Left

Switch Passing: Catch Right/Face Dodge/Throw Left – Catch Left/Face Dodge/Throw Right

Progression: Move on the Face and throw while on the run

Roll Back: Catch Right/Roll Back/Throw Left – Catch Left/Roll Back/Throw Right

Progression: Move on the Roll, protect the stick and throw on the run

2 Ball: Each Player Throws a ball at the same time to catch

Quick Stick: No cradle, Catch and Release

slide42

Gladiator Groundballs

The player who comes up with the ball and throws it back to the coach remains “Gladiator” and the other two return to the line and two new challengers step up. 4 consecutive wins = a Gladiator nickname (basically add “imus” or “aximus” to any regular name: Chrisimus…Mikesimus)

slide52

Attack Moves From X

This drill is set up for a right to left split (at the first cone), into a roll-dodge (at the second), into a right-handed attack-dodge. At the island, coaches can determine what sort of move they want attackers to use: hard topside, inside roll, question mark, rocker, etcetera.

slide54

Set-up

  • This is a great drill for teaching middies how to shoot on the run. There are a number of variations that can be used in the same drill set up (with slight adjustments). We will use 2 of them here. A split shooting drill and a split/roll-back (Sproll) shooting drill.
  • Set up five cones in the shape of 5 on your basic set of dice. Two up top, two low, one in the middle.
  • A line of players starts at each top cone.
  • A set of balls is placed at each cone.
slide57

Execution

  • This drill is designed to get two players two shots simultaneously. A player from the front of each line picks up a ball and places his stick to his inside hand. He then dodges at the cone in the center and splits (switching to his outside hand).
  • At the next cone the player should shoot using the proper overhand technique. Hands and arms back, overhand, hips swiveling through the shot, finishing in the hip pocket.
  • After the player has shot he returns to the back of the next line. Players should switch lines.
  • The goal is to get as many reps as possible, so as soon as the first two shooters are splitting, the next shooters should be starting their dodge.
  • **If you have a goalie in the cage only one shooter can shoot at a time.
slide58

Again, this drill is about reps. Don’t have too much space, don’t lag. Go, go, go. Stay on them. Switch lines after every shot. Midfielders must be threats righty and lefty.

5 on a Die Shooting: Alley Shooting

slide60

Set-up

  • Set up for this version of the drill is exactly the same except the base cones are set up a little wider.
  • The assumption here is that the defense has done a good job pushing the midfielder into the alley but has over committed to the front of the dodger, allowing a roll back to the center of the field for a time and room shot.
slide61

Note the wider set up on the base cones.

5 on a Die Shooting: Split Rolls (Sprolls)

slide62

Execution

  • Execution here is identical to the first version except when the players reach the shooting cones, they will stop, plant hard as if executing a roll-dodge.
  • On the roll dodge players should switch hands. ALWAYS lead with the stick out of the dodge (watch for trail checks). If players fail to do this, coaches can step into the drill and throw trail checks to reinforce good habits.
  • After executing the roll dodge, players should either use a jump stop to set their feet in order to execute a time and room shot, or shoot on the run.
  • **If players opt to shoot on the run, they shouldn’t run all the way through the center of the defense. The shot should be taken with in one or two steps of the roll in order to avoid additional slides.
slide63

The “Sproll” is a split-roll, combination dodge. The assumption here is that the middie has been flushed into the alley (by good defense) and must now try to roll back. This can be either a time and room shot, or a shot on the run, depending on the situation.

5 on a Die Shooting: Split Rolls (Sprolls)

slide64

Midfield R&R Drill

(Rollback & Re-Dodge)

some thoughts on shooting on the run
Some thoughts on shooting on the run…

3 Steps More: The best way to teach shooting on the run is to insist kids take at least 3 steps after every shot and end up running backwards. Don’t let them stop their feet.

No shuffle, shuffle, shot, shot: Kids have a tendency to want to get their feet into a crow-hop, or shuffle step, much as in shooting time and room—don’t let them!

ALL SHOTS MUST BE OVERHAND: On the run HAS to be taken overhand.

Think about the upper and lower body doing two different things: Lower body runs, upper body, turns, twists, shoots…

It’s actually more of a bend than just a twist: A good shooter on the run gets exceptional torque on their shot from both twisting at the waist, bending (or arching back) on the shot, and snapping the through with the aid of the driving leg and ending with full body turn and running backwards.

Plant the outside leg first: The next stride is key.

slide72

“Defensive” Lacrosse Player*

*At the youth lacrosse level (and even at the college to a certain extent), players should probably play both offense and defense. Versatility is far and away the most valuable asset in a lacrosse player.

on ball basics
On Ball Basics

Approaching the ball: Come in at an angle, take away “the most dangerous area of the field”.

Break down: into good body positioning. Butt down, chest up, stick in front.

Footwork: First three steps are always back. Think of yourself as a DB in football, drop step, give ground, then engage!

Limit Stick Checks: A 1v1 match-up is, in many ways, a staring contest, don’t blink first. In other words, don’t be the one who makes the mistake. Feet, body then stick .

If you are going to throw checks: Keep your feet moving at all times.

Be physical: Initiate contact with your dodger before he can get up to full speed.

Close ground: If you’re guarding an especially quick offensive player, engage them before they can take a run at you.

Dictate Where the Offense Can Go/ Protect the middle of the field: : A good defender plays an aggressive positional style. Dictating where an offensive player can and cannot go will make slides and defensive packages more efficient and predictable. Breakdowns occur when the offense dictates play.

slide74

Practice, Practice, Practice*

*It’s not the will to win, It’s the will to practice to win

on ball defense when engaged
On Ball Defense When Engaged

Half Step Behind: Take away the roll-back, don’t over pursue or over-commit to the dodgers attacking hand or lane.

Drive to the least dangerous area of the field: (More on this next)

Stick on back shoulder: Waiting for trail or lift

Never stop your feet: As soon as you stop your feet (whether throwing a check or while engaged with an offensive player), you’re effectively beaten. You are no longer in a fair fight—the offense has the advantage!

Drive with your legs: No leaning over your stick with your arms extended.

Your job is never done: Once your offensive player moves the ball on, your job is never done. Your roll just shifts.

slide84

Attackmen can’t get a high quality shot: Unless they’re able to get far enough above the cage (5&5, which is really 3&3) attackmen won’t have sufficient angle to be efficient and effective shooters.

Attackmen can’t look to feed: If a defender engages with his offensive player before allowing him to get top-side feeding becomes more difficult, because no slides are necessary.

Pinch between crease and slider: By reducing the amount of room a midfielder has to attack the goal (shrinking dodging lanes) a defender is able to use the crease as an additional defender.

Force him into the slide: We already know the slide is coming from the crease (we’re a crease sliding team), staying top-side brings the defender directly into the slide.

Making defense predictable: Defense is played by individuals who are part of a team. By taking away the top-side you’ve eliminated the number of options an offensive player has.

Your job is never done: Once your offensive player moves the ball on, your job is never done. Your role just shifts.

sliding fundamentals
Sliding Fundamentals:

Slide to where he’s gonna be: Not where he is.

Slide to meet him at the edge of the most dangerous area of the field: Take away the roll back, stick on back shoulder ready for trail or lift

Slide under control to stop the ball: Breaking down like you would to any dodger

Stick then body then stick: (unless they don’t see you and then it’s body, then body, then body.

Double until dodger is no longer a threat: No leaning over your stick with your arms extended.

Release original defender: (almost always)

And remember: Your job is never done…once you’ve successfully eliminated the threat your job is NOT done. Your role just shifts.

on ball basics the offensive approach
On Ball Basics (The Offensive Approach)

Approaching Your Man: Defenders are taught to “come in at an angle, take away the most dangerous area of the field…” (usually the middle). Part of being a good dodger is recognize how our approach to our defender is going to “open-up” the parts of the field we want to attack.

The North/South Attack: Every dodge should start with a split or bull-dodge! Too often players begin their dodges by going east west, or side-to side. This concedes the offensive advantage from the start. Every player wants to attack his defender directly, by going right at him.

Recognize the Tendencies of Your Defender: Within your first one or two runs at a defender, you should get a feel for his tendencies. Does he poke then drop? Does he throw a lot of heavy slaps? Does he play with his hands behind him? Does he throw overheads at goal-line extended? The more you know, the better prepared you’re going to be to attack him.

Recognize What Kind of Dodger You Are: For the most part, there are three different types of dodgers. The slow, smart, reactive dodger (he lets the defenders make mistakes), the aggressive attacking dodger and a combination of both. Players should understand their strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not fast, you’re going to have to be smart. If you’re not smart, you’re going to have to be fast.

Understand Your Counter Moves: Every 1v1 is like a prize-fight. For every punch, there is a counter punch. As an offensive player, you want to be able to read your defender and react accordingly. If you’re playing against a guy who likes to throw overheads, maybe you’re going to drag your stick and bait him, then when he bites, you tuck and go. Be as smart as you are aggressive.

slide91

The Approach: Attacking on Angles

As an offensive player we want to establish and dictate where we are going. In order to do this we must understand how our angle of attack will open things up for us.

attackmen
Attackmen:

5&5 is the Goal: As attackmen we’re trying to get to the islands in order to shoot and/or feed. How we get there depends on what type of player we are. If we’re faster and quicker, we can try to beat our defenders behind the goal, if we’re bigger, we’re probably going to want to attack our defender at 5&5 using an inside roll, a Question Mark Dodge or maybe a rocker step.

Pick Your Spots: A lot of attackmen like to dodge from X; others like to dodge from the corners of the field. There are benefits to both.

Use the goal and crease to your advantage: Run defenders off the tangents of X in order to trip them up.

Understand how your initial move is going to open up something different: Most good defenders can stop your initial move. With this in mind, our desired goal is often going to come off our second or counter move.

Remember: Punch, counterpunch. For every move there is a complimentary move. Drive topside, inside roll, rocker, question mark, fake question mark. Know your weapons.

slide97

Using The Back of the Cage*

*Using a defender’s momentum against him…

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Again, this second move, or counter-move, can be achieved using a roll-dodge (safest), a split-dodge (harder) or dip-under (hardest). The goal here is to change direction as soon as the defender “hops” over the back of the cage.

Using the Back of the Cage

midfielder
Midfielder:

The goals differ depending on what you want: A good alley dodger and shooter, might be content to get into the alley and shoot. A player looking to create and feed, will probably be trying to attack the middle of the field. Know what you want before you go after it.

Pick Your Spots: A lot of middies (and a lot of offenses) call for middies to dodge off the high corners. Get as high as possible, and to the middle of the field if that’s what you want.

Understand how your initial move is going to open up something different: Most good defenders can stop your initial move. With this in mind, our desired goal is often going to come of our second, or counter move.

Remember: Punch, counterpunch. For every move there is a complimentary move. Drive topside, roll dodge, split -dodge, split-roll back, swim move and rocker. Know your weapons.

Dodge the man, not the grass: Don’t just run into the alley because that’s what the defender is giving to you.

Don’t settle for bad shots: The defender wants you shooting low percentage shots from the alley. Fight to get the BEST shot, not the first shot.

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You dodged the grass and not the man, and you settled for a bad shot. This is a loss!

Attacking the Most Dangers Spot on the Field

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On this secondary countermove, players can either roll-dodge (safest), split-dodge (harder, but quicker), or use the “swim-dodge”.

Attack the Alley to Get to The Middle

offensive roles in the 2 man game
Offensive Roles in the 2 Man Game
  • On ball: I’m either dodging or feeding. If I feed “Give & Go”
  • Off Ball: I’m either setting an “on-ball” pick or going to the crease and “mirroring” the dodger in hopes that he will draw a slide and I can get open. If I pick, I will slip or roll to the net looking for throw back.
  • That’s it…
  • On/Off Ball options:
  • Be a Dodger/Look to score first
  • Pass/“Give & Go”
  • Pick & Slip
  • Pick & Pop
  • Pick & Roll
defensive roles in the 2 man game
Defensive Roles in the 2 Man Game
  • On ball: I’m forcing my man away from the topside
  • Off Ball: I’m keeping a “big eye” on my man, a “little eye” on the ball.
  • COMMUNICATING (It is the job of the off-ball defender to do the communicating).
  • 2-man Game options:
  • Stay
  • Switch
  • Jump
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The Attack 2v2

Set up for “mirror” option. Key to remember: Crease player stays high and waits for dodger to draw slide, then finds a seam to get open.

Set up for Attack 2-man game. Key to remember: Verticality on the pick (set picks on a north/south line).

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Another Vertical Pick Option is the “Canadian” 2-Man Game.

Remember: When a player is “off ball” he is generally cutting through to create space. When setting a pick we want to create the illusion that we’re doing exactly this. (Pick Inside Out)

The Midfield 2v2

roles in the 3v3
Roles in the 3v3

The 3v3 rotation is the basic component of almost any lacrosse offense around. The basic rules are:

1) On ball: I’m either dodging or feeding. If I feed, cut immediately looking to get a pass back.

Off Ball: I’m either setting an “on-ball” pick, setting an “off-ball” screen or cutting through (clearing space for the dodger).

Key Things to Remember:

1) Balance, Spacing, Balance, Spacing, Balance, Spacing

2) STAY SPREAD! FIGHT THE “VORTEX”

3) Where are our “Dodging Spots”?

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The 3v3

There are any number of ways to set up a 3v3. Here are four different options. Name them so your players know which one you want. And always use cones!

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The 3v3: Option #1

Notice: The player at X has remained “spread” but he is also “beneath” or “ahead” of the ball carrier. If he is “outside” or “behind” the ball carrier this forward pass becomes extremely difficult.

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Midfield*

*With the midfielders we can start the dodge out with a V-cut.

general transition principles
General Transition Principles
  • Offense and Defense:
  • Recognition: Communication is key in all transition situations. Players must recognize what the “situation” is at any given time. By situation we mean, the numerical advantage or disadvantage…4v3, 3v2, 5v4, etc.
  • Communication: Both the offense and the defense must communicate the “situation” to their teammates and respond accordingly.
  • Get set up in the proper shape: Both the offense and defense must get into the appropriate shape to maximize their numerical “situations” For example, in a 3v2 the offense is in a triangle, the defense is in an “I”.
  • Offense:
  • Stay Spread: Whatever the shape, it’s important—as always—for the offense to maintain balance and spacing.
  • Move the ball: In a transition scenario the ball should do most of the work.
  • Defense:
  • STAY TIGHT!!!: As always, the defense wants to stay tight to shorten slides and force teams to score from the outside.
  • Be prepared to rotate: The defensive rotations are key to man-down and transition defense.
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Combination Concepts:

The 2v1, 1v1 Drill

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When deciding who the “recover” defenseman will be, you can do one of two things: 1) designate a line that will return each time, or, 2) have it become a last touch drill.

The 2v1, 1v1 Drill

explanation
Explanation:

This is a small field (full-field) up tempo transition drill, sometimes known as the “West Genny” Drill.

The purpose of this drill is to get players comfortable executing transition concepts in a small, compact field. This is a continuous drill that—once started—will provide opportunities for players to play in and out of position. Defensemen will be handling the ball on offense, and offensive players will have to learn defensive concepts.

The keys to this drill from a coaching standpoint are 1) making sure the point man on the break stay “high” forming the point of the offensive triangle, 2) making sure you clearly identify which two lines will be recovering each round on defense (use the outer two lines), and 3) making sure the defense recovers, sets up in an “I” formation and COMMUNICATES!

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4 Corner 4v4 Drill

(aka The 444 Drill)

explanation1
Explanation:

This is a small field (full-field) up tempo 4v4 game that is designed to get players moving and competing.

Teams are split into two colors and dispersed around the four corners of the field.

The coach starts by rolling a ball in from the sideline, then we are live. The two teams play to a goal or until the coach decides to reset with a new ball.

The key is to get players understanding how to play positional lacrosse. Each team must have someone protecting “the house” and each team will want to send a player up field in transition immediately. The speed of transitions from goal to offense should be emphasize.

explanation2
Explanation:

This is a small field (full-field) 3v3 drill that is designed to get kids playing in a scrimmage type atmosphere while in smaller numbers.

The 2v1 ground ball will turn into a 3v3 with six players on the field going to goal. The 3v3—the bedrock of any 6v6 offense—is highlighted in this drill. For younger players this allows them to create better spacing while at the same time running up and down the field.

For older more advanced players the triangle concepts begin to come into play. As always in any offensive scenario the keys are balance and spacing.

This is also a good way to begin to teach players the concept of positions and jobs. By encouraging players to make sure someone defends the “house” or their own goal, you will begin to cut down on the “pack”, “ball-following” mentality that is common to young players.

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Final Thoughts

  • Time to get serious…

The middle school level is where fun and strategic development coincide. It is imperative to continue developing skills and an appreciation/love of the game, while simultaneously increasing the functional knowledge of the middle school lacrosse player.

At this age players begin to play “official” positions. A lot of the drills here are designed to put players in different situations, but the goal for this is to develop stick skills and “all around” knowledge from lacrosse players. Everyone plays D, everyone plays O—regardless of position.

Higher level concepts such as the “two-man” game and general offensive positioning and slides should also be further explored at this age level.