By TJ Buchanan | @usltjbuchanan
Anyone who’s had an opportunity to watch NCAA men’s lacrosse over the past two seasons has probably noticed faster play and higher scores than in previous years. In last year’s Division I final, for instance, Duke scored 16 goals in its victory over Syracuse. That’s a far cry from Loyola’s 9-3 win over Maryland in 2012.
The well-publicized NCAA rules changes to increase pace of play had a hand in this. But ultimately, the coaches made the necessary adjustments. They allowed defensive players to play offense, attacked the goal in transition and in unsettled situations and put more shots on cage.
The game is back in players’ hands. It’s less of a chess match between coaches. In this system, players need to have a tremendous lax IQ. They need to make snap decisions while reading the play.
Here are three drills that will help your players develop game intelligence on the fly.
- Stand at the top of the attack zone with a bucket of balls.
- Form four lines of players behind the cage—two in white jerseys, two in dark.
- Roll a ball into the attack zone.
- The first players in each line pursue the ground ball.
- Players use man/ball communications to gain possession.
- The team with the ball is on offense, the team without it on defense.
- The drill ends with a shot, save or clear.
Variation: Move the players or the ball to create different attack angles.
- Play 4-on-3 with a goalie in the cage.
- Roll a ball out to an offensive player between the restraining line and midline.
- Player should use the 4-on-3 advantage as a scoring opportunity.
- Allow long poles and defensive midfielders to run the break as well.
Variation: Increase number of players to create 5-on-4 or 6-on-5 situations. Add trailers on a second whistle to make it a settled situation.
- Set up two full teams anywhere on a full field.
- Throw a ball to any part of the field.
- The player who gets the ball has to move it up-field within 5 seconds.
- If the ball does not advance in 5 seconds, blow the whistle and throw another ball to a different part of the field.
- Aim for spectacular full-field transition plays.
- Emphasize the following:
- Pushing the ball up the field
- Moving off-ball in a full-field situation
- Keeping eyes up for opportunities up the field
- Forcing the defense to backpedal and communicate
- Long passes
TJ Buchanan is the coaching education content manager at US Lacrosse. Suggest topics for future coaching blog posts in the comments section.
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