New Canaan Youth Lacrosse

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Run The Line
Description- Line players across the field with any where from 5 to 10 yards between them. Have a player carrying the ball dodge each player using face, split and bull dodges. Limit the defense to poke checks at first. To add continuity to the drill have a second line going back across the field doing the same drill using the opposite hand. After a player goes through the line (or both if you set the drill up with two) they become a defender. Each defender moves up one spot as soon as a dodger passes his location. To keep spacing it is suggested that each spot be marked with a cone or a stick.
            Key technique- Emphasize the quickness of the dodge and making only one move and going. Face dodge is set up with a motion to pass or shoot. Split dodge is set up with a half step to the stick side and a cross face move to the off stick side. Players should be prepared to switch hands on a split dodge. Bull dodge is the opposite of the split without switching hands. Sticks should be in proper position – tight to their body and quickly brought back to passing position once dodge is completed.
Variation- Keep same set up. Have the defenders switch their checks between pokes and slaps. The dodger has to read the stick on the run and use the appropriate dodge. As the players become more comfortable with the drill move the defenders closer to force the dodges to become quicker and increase the intensity of the checks. 
            Key Technique- Emphasize the quickness of the dodge and reading the defenders body and stick position. Stick is high then face dodge; stick is low then split or bull. As dodgers become more comfortable the defenders checks can increase their aggressiveness.
Variation- Turn the defenders perpendicular to the players running across the field. Have the dodgers run as close to the defenders to practice their stick protection. Players should practice running in to the defender and then away and then back into the next defender to get comfortable protecting the ball when in close to a defender. Defenders should be limited to poke checks at first and should be anchored to a line. As dodgers become more comfortable then move defenders closer and allow more aggressive checks. Rotate as above.
            Key Technique- Stick protection is one of the most important skills we can teach and very few players have mastered the technique by high school. Sticks should be kept close to the body, inside the “box”. Once the players are strong enough to cradle correctly they should be taught to cradle in close by rotating their shoulders instead of with aggressive arm action. Moreover, players should be instructed to keep their “off” hand in position to protect the stick. In front of them, away from the body with glove up or down and not moving to avoid warding calls.
Variation- Line defenders up at a 45-degree angle to the goal with player closest to the goal anchored on the restraining line or a few yards inside. Have dodgers run the line protecting the ball with their shoulder rotations and take a shot after passing all the defenders. Lines should be on both sides of the goal with players taking righty and lefty shots.
            Key Technique- Stick protection, checking and shooting

Stick Protection
Description- Pair players up according to speed and form two lines on one side of the field. Have one player run with the ball across the field trying to get as close to the defender as possible (this can be limited by using cones or midfield line as a border) but running at full speed. Defender can be limited in checks they can throw in the beginning but allow increasing aggressiveness as the players become more comfortable. The pairs should then come back across the field using the opposite hand. 
            Technique- Emphasis in this drill should be on getting players comfortable running with someone who is throwing checks, by rotating shoulders and not extending arms to protect the ball and running at full speed. The technique for defenders is to learn how to keep their sticks out in front when running with a dodger, to throw checks while running at full speed and when to side step and when to turn hips and run with the dodger. 
Variation- Using the same pairs create an area between the sideline and the restraining line. Set up cones every ten yards alternating between the two lines. Offensive players will dodge up field from cone to cone switching hands as the make each turn. Defenders will practice “turning” the dodger at each sideline. Defenders will go through three stages: The first with no sticks to practice their footwork, the second with limits on their checks to again practice their footwork and body position. The third with the defender throwing full checks.
            Techniques- On offense the emphasis is protecting the stick with proper shoulder rotation and dodging into a space when the defender knows where you are trying to go. The defender will be practicing their “turning” techniques and footwork.
Variation- Create a square with the restraining line and the midfield line using both sidelines. Each offensive player will run the square at full speed with the defender free to throw as many checks as they can as they run the route. Defenders should be encouraged to throw a great number of checks and offensive players should be encouraged to “run away” from the defenders.
            Techniques- Offensive player should gain confidence running with a defender throwing frequent checks. They should also develop a sense of using speed and changing speeds to disrupt the defenders checks. Players should avoid running at one speed to avoid checks as the defender can time them. Emphasis should also be placed on proper stick position and shoulder rotation. Defenders should grow accustomed to keeping their stick in checking position and throwing checks while running at full speed.
Variation- At a more basic level, the team can also practice stick protection standing in one place. Put players in pairs by size. Have one player with ball anchor one foot and begin cradling. The defender can throw checks without moving their feet.   As they become more comfortable with the drill, the defender can become more mobile.
            Techniques- Offensive player should become comfortable controlling and protecting his stick when close to a defender. At younger ages the technique will be an aggressive cradle. As they develop emphasis should be on shoulder rotation.

Defensive Technique
Description- Emphasis throughout the program should be on defensive positioning and footwork as keys to defensive play. To help emphasize these values and to improve the quality of stick work among the program’s defenders, stick size should be limited. Suggestions—Fifth grade middie sticks until midyear and then allow stick to reach chin once they are comfortable throwing and catching with the smaller stick. Sixth grade – no higher then their chin. Seventh grade eye level. Eight grade as long as they can comfortably handle throwing and catching. New players at any grade would be better off using a stick shorter then these dimensions until they are comfortable with their stick work. In the upper grades, emphasis will also include the ability to throw checks. To teach basic checks line players up across midfield with sticks placed in an outstretch arm to their side. Have one player going through line throwing a check on each player’s stick. After throwing a check on each player the defender goes to the end of the line and the next player goes.
            Technique- Players should be taught to throw checks without committing their feet or weight. The proper stance is knees slightly bent, arms extended without leaning forward. Checks to practice are pokes and slaps.
Variation- If the defenders are off in a group you can use a number of the stick protection drills to allow them to practice their checks. In the lower grades it might be more productive to have defenders checking each other without carrying the ball. Have them run the field throwing checks. The incentive is for the “offensive player” to run as fast as they can to avoid checks.
            Technique- Defenders should try to keep pace with the offensive players by using a shuffle step as long as they can. Once they cannot keep up they should run “hip to hip”. Stick should be out if in front at all times and they should learn to throw as many checks as possible without committing their feet or weight.
Variation- Another key technique to teach is the “hold”. Pair off the defenders by size. Have one players run as though he has the ball. The defender should use their hold techniques to turn the player away from key positions. Drill should be run from behind or from the edge of the restraining area. Teach both the forearm hold with the defenders forearm firmly placed parallel to the ground in the dodger’s back or shoulder. Stick should be at a 45-degree angle ready to check. Feet should be parallel. In the split-hand hold, one hand is placed on the dodger’s hip and one in the middle of the dodgers shoulder blades. Stick and feet are in the positions described above.
            Technique- The key to good hold positions is keeping your feet parallel, not committing your weight to the hold. This will minimize the risk of the dodger roll dodging out of the hold. In both techniques players should be taught to protect good shooting areas and not necessarily defending the goal. (5 and 5)
Variation- As the boys become older and more experienced the defensive concept should evolve to where we are teaching to defend the best shooting areas and not necessarily the goal. This has the greatest impact from behind the goal. Rather then having the defenders back to the goal their shoulders should be aligned parallel to the goal line extended. The logic behind this positioning is to defend the 5 and 5, the best scoring position on the field. To teach this have “offensive” players dodge from behind (it could be a defender without a stick). Have defensive player “turn” them back at the GLE.
Warm up stick drills
Description- The goal of every warm up drill is to get the players as many “touches” as possible. The traditional drill is the “line drill” where players run at each other from across the field either passing or leaving ground balls. This drill is the most over used drill in Lacrosse and should be used no more than once or twice a week. To get more out of line drills try to speed them up by moving the lines closer together and limiting the lines to three players. Or you can use two balls in each line. The players will do less jogging between lines and waiting and more passing. Motivate the players to run at full speed (or at least faster then a jog) to simulate catching in a game. Limit them to one cradle after the catch to promote longer passes and quicker hands. Another variation is to have the player receiving the pass to cut at a 45-degree angle from the passer, again to simulate the types of passes you will receive in a game. Force players to play with their off hand. For ground balls, have one player put his stick over the ball so the other player must go through the ball hard to pick it up.
Variation- Put players in groups of four with two balls (you might want to give them extras). Put one player in the middle with the other three arrayed around them with two of them with a ball. One player throws the ball at the player in the middle. He catches the ball and returns it to the player who did not start with a ball. As soon as he throws the ball the other player with a ball throws it to the player in the middle. He returns it to the player without a ball. These throws continue for a full minute or two and then rotate players.
            Technique- Players should be encouraged to move toward each of the passes and return throws with a hard straight pass. Keep players spread far enough to make the throws a challenge. All players should be moving their feet to catch or throw passes. Done correctly this can be a conditioning opportunity. Emphasize both weak and strong hand during this drill. Rotate the whole team at same time to insure equal opportunity. Once players feel comfortable you can move them closer until they use a quick stick technique in returning throws.
Variation- Put players in groups of four with two players on each sideline edge of the retraining box facing each other (You may need to spread them from sideline to sideline). The drill should be run with two balls. One player from each side breaks out and receives a pass over the shoulder. They catch the pass and throw to the opposite sideline. The player on the sideline returns the ball and breaks out and repeats the drill. The player who has just crossed the field catches the return pass cuts away from the player cutting and passes the ball. This can be done with ground balls or a combination of ground balls and passes. Try to keep the lines moving at full speed by providing extra balls so they do not have to chase missed passes.
            Technique- The benefit of this drill is the number of touches each player receives and the different angles of the passes. The coaches will have to keep the groups running at full speed. The time allocated to this drill should be kept short, if done correctly there is a lot of running.

Team Warm up drills
Variation- Line players up at four corners of a square. (You will need more than one square for a team) Player start with the ball in one corner and throw a pass to the player to his right cutting to the middle. He throws a pass to the player opposite. The player throwing the original pass now cuts to the middle, receives a pass and throws it opposite.
            Technique- The benefit of this drill is receiving passes at the angle you will see them in competition. Once the team understands the drill multiple balls can be used.
Variation- There are a number of breakout drills that can be employed. One that is useful for practicing open field passes is: Four stations on each side of the field. One next to the goalie, one at midfield in center of the field, one at midfield at the sideline and one on the goal line of the opposite goal. To start drill a goalie or a coach will throw an over the shoulder break out pass to the line next to the goal. They will throw the ball to the line at the middle of the field who should be cutting towards them. They will throw the ball to the line on the sideline cutting down field. They will pass the ball to the goal line and cut to the goal. Upon receiving a return pass the player will shoot. Each player goes to the line they passed to. The player from the goal line goes to the line next to the goal. The drill should be run on both sides of the field with multiple balls in play. Extra balls should be placed at each station to limit the stoppage to chase missed passes.
            Technique- Players should be encouraged to throw and catch passes on the run. The types of passes thrown in this drill replicate the passes thrown in clears and fast breaks.
Variation- cross field passes. Set up three lines on each side of the field: One line on the intersection of both restraining boxes and the sideline and one on the intersection of the midfield line and the sideline. Put a goalie or a coach in front of each goal. Start the drill by having the goalie/coach pass the ball to the first line cutting to the middle. This player throws it to the head of the opposite midfield line also cutting to the middle. He in turn throws it to the head of the line at the opposite restraining line. This last player runs to the goal and shoots. He then goes to the end of the next line at the opposite restraining box.
            Technique- Players will be encouraged to throw longer passes, throw and catch on the run and receive balls from angles similar to game conditions.

Shooting Drills
Description- The art of shooting is one of the most underdeveloped talents in our program. Every emphasis should be made to greatly increase the number and the quality of the shots that the players take in practice.   Coaching emphasis must be placed on the proper shooting and throwing mechanics. Players should be encouraged to keep their hands high while shooting, rotating the shoulders and using their hips. (Sometimes described as chopping wood) Try to break players of the tendency to shoot sidearm. If necessary, teach them the underhand technique. All shooting drills should emphasize shooting on the run. Coaches should have as many balls as possible available to the players to increase the number of “reps” each payer experiences. For shooting drills it is often necessary to place goals in front of the backstops or a fence to limit chasing balls. Discretion should be used when putting goalies in the goal.
Variation- The simplest drill is to form two lines in front of the goal. One line will use their left hand and one their right. Have players make a quick dodge (on a coach?) and run towards the goal and shoot. Defensive players can participate in this drill to encourage throwing on the run. Players should be encouraged to run at full speed and, in the beginning work on mechanics and not accuracy.
            Technique- Too often players are “afraid to miss” and short arm the ball. They also will unconsciously slow down or “skip” when setting up to shoot. Players should also be encouraged to shoot within a few steps “beating their defender”. In all drills quickness should be encouraged.
Variation- Use defenders to put increasing pressure on the shooters.
            Technique- Defenders should be taught to “steer” the shooters way from the shooting area and to lift up on the shooters arms to disrupt the shot. Shooters should be taught to make quick moves and get their hands free and shoot as soon as they beat the defender.
Variation- To teach close in shooting, put the lines behind the goal. Have the players “dodge” from behind the goal to the 5 and 5. (Five yards in front of the goal and five yards wide) One time through the line the players should use a question mark and the next an inside roll. A coach should place himself at the 5 and 5 spot and offer token resistance.
            Technique- Emphasis should be placed on stick position and getting the shots off quickly as they come out of the dodge. Players should be encouraged to shoot high to low.  Coaches should be checking sticks that are left unprotected. As the players become more comfortable the checks should increase in intensity.
Variation- There are an infinite number of “cutting” drills to teach catching and shooting on the run. Any of them can suit the purpose of instructing the players. Emphasis should be placed cutting speed, keeping the feeders moving their feet, and cutting angles.
Variation- Put two offense players at the 5 and 5. Have one pick for the other and have a feeder behind (or out front). Player should catch and shoot and then immediately re-pick for the other player who repeats the drill. Drill can be run from both sides of the goal. Another player can be added to drill to feed the “feeder”. Players should rotate after ten shots are taken.
One V. One
Description- The ability to beat a defender one on one is the basis of most Lacrosse offenses. This is a skill, along with shooting, that cannot be over emphasized. The techniques to emphasize are keeping their head up, arms in good stick protection position, changing speeds and changing directions. Dodges should be quick and players should learn to exploit a half step advantage. The differences between dodging to shoot and dodging to feed will be emphasized in different drills. Coaches should make sure players dodge from different positions on the field and shoot hard each time they dodge. Almost all these drills can use a goalie, however there may be too many close in shots to keep them in for long. Putting players on the crease will provide a more realistic dodging experience.
Variation- Form two groups of two lines each. Have the players rotate through six dodging positions—Goal line extended (both sides), directly behind and in front and at 45-degree angle out front. Alternate between the two lines with every player dodging from each position.
            Technique- Players should learn to dodge and defend from each angle. Both middies and attackmen should dodge from each position. Dodgers should try to get separation and make one move and go to the goal. Defensive technique should emphasize strong hand in early years and “area” defense in eighth grade.
Variation- Line up players behind goal. Set up cones in an arc from goal line extended (GLE) to GLE on other side of goal. Players dodging should run the arc from one side to the other using stick protection skills, changing speeds and moving into and away from the defender. Defenders should attempt to run with their stick in the offensive players chest without throwing any checks. As players gain confidence the defenders should be allowed to first throw only pokes and then all checks. After offensive players doge a few times they should be allowed to also go to the goal once they run the arc once (or coaches call out permission).
            Technique- On offense the emphasis should be on stick protection and gaining the ability to get your hands free to feed. Players should keep their head up and “sense” the defender. On defense emphasis should be on body position, proper footwork and keeping the stick in the offense players hands ready to check.
Variation- Add an offensive and a defensive player on the crease. Defensive player should be ready to slide. Goalies should be used (in or out of the goal) to make the proper slide calls. Offensive player on crease should be inconstant motion to occupy the defender and to free stick for a feed. Player behind should be looking for crease feed as they dodge from side to side. 
Variation- Use two players on the crease. Players should pick and repack for each other. Defenders should learn to talk and warn of picks and cuts and the changing responsibility for slides.
Variation- Do the same set of drills starting with the ball out front.
Variation- Use the same sequence but start with 2 v. 2 behind the goal. Players should use various pick and flip techniques to get free.

    LACROSSE SKILLS - Wall Drills

1.                  All drills must be performed with both hands.
                  Any wall will work, but a smooth concrete wall at least 10 feet tall is the best surface.
                  Use your gloves when performing this routine.
                  Stand about five yards from the wall.
                  Perform this routine 4 to 5 times a week for 15 to 20 minutes and your stick skills will improve a great deal in a very short period of time.
a.     Right hand quick stick – 50 times (left hand).
b.     Right hand – one hand catch & cradle 50 times (left hand).
c.      Right hand (one hand only) quick-stick – 50 times (left hand).
d.     Right hand catch & face dodge – 50 times (left hand).
e.     Split dodge – throw right, catch right, split dodge to left hand, throw left, catch left, split back to right hand – 50 times.
f.        Quick stick – change hands on every toss while ball is in air
g.     Cross handed – 50 times each hand
h.      Around-the-back – 50 times each hand
i.        Side arm after a great hard fake – 50 times each hand.
j.        Be creative – develop your own drill.
Note:      This routine takes 15 – 20 minutes. Crank up your music box and have some fun. 
Develop a set - wall program for the best results.

Wall Ball Routine
This routine can be performed by either gender. The following stick drills should be used daily in the off-season and several times per week during the season. Once you master your stick (which takes a lot of dedication) the rest of your game will fall into place with much less frustration. Stick with it! 
1.    Boys; gloves are mandatory
2.    Girls; gloves are optional (if you wear them during a game wear them during practice)
3.    Any wall is fine, but a smooth surface at least 10 feet tall is optimum (concrete, block)
4.    Drills should take no longer than 30 minutes maximum
5.    Stand approx.12-15 feet from the wall
6.    Do not let the ball hit the ground
7.    Pass and catch in the area above your shoulder; to the right of left or your head
8.    Strong hand toss/catch,¼ cradle repeat 50 times; then 50 times weak hand
9.    Strong hand quick stick 50 times; then 50 times weak hand
10. Strong hand 1 hand catch and cradle 50 times; then 50 times weak hand
11. Strong hand catch and face dodge 50 times; then 50 times weak hand
12. Split dodge/ throw right catch right/ split to left hand throw left and catch left 50 times
13. Quick stick while the ball is in the air switch hands on every toss 50 times
14. Cross-handed 50 times each hand. Throw right rotate hands left and visa versa
15. One hand passing/shooting 50 times each hand (start with hand close to the stick head…as you get better and stronger move your hand down the stick shaft)…experiment
16. Behind the back 50 times each hand
17. Develop you own routine: if space is big enough jog down the wall while passing. Jog while catching to the right then reverse. Behind the head catching. Bounce pass catching.
18. Pass and catch with the wall by having the ball being either passed or caught in an unconventional manner or less than perfect spot. Less than perfect passes happen in EVERY game…get ready. Be the best you can be…… regardless of conditions.
Practice does not make perfect
Perfect practice makes perfect
Great study habits, healthy diet, plenty of rest, dedicated practice, time management, and the willingness to sacrifice = success.
Good luck with your lacrosse season