TJ Buchanan | @usltjbuchanan
Lacrosse season is full swing for most of the country, and that could mean unpredictable weather, cold temperatures, snow-covered fields, and the ever-dreaded “gym time.”
Nobody likes practicing in the gym! The lighting makes it hard to see the ball. The hard floors make it tough to scoop. You’re at the mercy of someone else scheduling your time, usually split with other sports and activities.
So, how can you make the time productive for your players? I don’t pretend to have the definitive answer to this question, but with 15 years of coaching experience from the U9 through NCAA levels, I’ve been in your shoes and I believe I can help.
What can we work on in the gym?
- Stick work – We are constantly talking to athletes about spending time on the wall.
- Unsettled play – Think about it. A major part of the game is to create a 2v1 (or 1v1) with the goalie.
- Individual offense and defense – Efficient movement/footwork on offense and better body positioning on defense.
- Conditioning – Keep it fun because athletes are already disappointed they are stuck inside.
What does this all look like? Here is a sample plan for a 90-minute practice.
- Team warm-up and stretch – 15 minutes
- Wall ball – 15 minutes (as many reps as possible for each component)
- Throw right, catch right (2 minutes)
- Throw left, catch left (2 minutes)
- Throw right, catch left (2 minutes)
- Throw left, catch right (2 minutes)
- Throw right, catch right, split dodge changing hands, throw left, catch left (2.5 minutes)
- Throw right, catch right, roll away changing hands, throw left catch left (2.5 minutes)
- Quick sticks (1 minute, each hand)
- Three-player weave – 6 minutes
- Either a traditional weave or just have players go straight down the court catching and throwing with the player’s leading hand and staying in their designated lanes.
- 1-on-1’s – 6 minutes
- Run it in four groups, one at each corner of an imaginary box around the goal area. Each 1-on-1 pair has 15 seconds to score or create a turnover.
- The videos below show two variations you may want to work with to add an additional level of difficulty for your defenders as their on-ball defense improves.
- Video: 1-on-1 from X
- Video: 1-on-1 from top center
- 2-on-2’s – 6 minutes
- Keep them in same groups, but now have their partner across the field or adjacent (coach’s pick). Look at things like:
- How is the dodger attacking the defender?
- What angles are defenders using to slide for help?
- Off-ball play
- Each 2-on-2 pair has 20 seconds to score or create a turnover.
- 4-on-3 Forever Drill – 10 minutes
- Start with four offensive, three defensive players, and a goalie in each cage.
- Offense starts with the ball.
- Regardless of whether a goal is scored or if a save is made, the last offensive player to touch the ball returns to the sidelines with the team, while the other three must get back and play defense as four new offensive players attack going the other way.
- Video example
- Variation: Continuous 3-on-2 Basketball Drill
- Full-court basketball (for conditioning) – 15 minutes (3-5 minute games)
- Divide into three teams and keep score of each game.
- Winners get a break the second game, while the losers have to keep playing.
- Numbers Drill – 10 minutes
- Offense starts up top, defense starts off to a side.
- Coach calls out a number (1-4 for inside practices) and that many offense players release from the top.
- Defense must send one less, same, or one more than how many offensive players come out. Coach sets the rule for this each turn.
- Play it out until there is a turnover, loose ball or goal.
- No out of bounds, let them use the walls if possible (no “boarding” or takeout body checks allowed).
- Video example
- Partner passing – 7 minutes
- Start in close (6-8 feet apart) with non-dominant hand.
- Every 30 seconds, take a step back and switch hands.
- If they run out of room, have them start to move back toward each other every 30 seconds, while still switching hands every time they take a step.
Notice that there are no breaks scheduled. Instead, have water bottles around the gym for them and they can get a drink during one of the times they are not actively participating in a drill. Not only does this save valuable practice time, but it also helps with conditioning since the team is “on” for 90 consecutive minutes.
Do you have a gym drill you would like to share? Send an email with a diagram to firstname.lastname@example.org and you might see it in future newsletters or in our Mobile Coach database.
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