Lax Coach Mike: You Can Put Transition (Fun) in Every Drill

By Mike Muetzel,

By now you know how big we are on fast-paced lacrosse drills, drills that directly emulate game scenarios, and especially multi-tasking in drills. With a little creativity it is easier than you might think to incorporate a number of game-like situations all in the same drill. Frankly, more often than not, this is what players face given the fluid nature of lacrosse games, so let's get them prepared and have a little fun all at the same time.

This all started at the college level a few years back when we saw many NCAA coaches adding a clear to the back half of every drill, even their transition drills. We all know that working on rides and clears is critically important, but they can be tough to coach in practice, as it really slows down pace. It is also tough to do if you are coaching by yourself. So, the players ran a drill, any drill, then immediately went into clearing mode off a take-a-way or even following a score. Thus, we get additional work in these key areas, and the pace of practice stays much quicker, keeping the players engaged. Recently, in our interviews with top NCAA lacrosse coaches, we are learning of a unique twist on the same concept.

Many college coaches spend as much time in 4v4 lacrosse drills as they do on 6v6. It opens up the field, allows us to run offensive strategies as well as slides, and is faster and much more fun for the players. And it offers more touches per player in each drill than a typical 6v6 half-field scenario. Let me be clear, 6v6 is important, but so are touches and keeping players active. But yet, most coaches spend 20-30 minutes in 6v6, while most of the other players just stand around and watch, which drives me nuts. College coaches have been developing better ways to maximize practice time. If I cannot push you to modify this 'old' philosophy, then at least consider this:

Basic Concept

In this example, let's say you are running your team in a half-field 6v6 drill and you see the pace slow down and the interest level diminish. First set a time limit, for example a minute (or even two, which in a game is a long time). Following a shot or a ground ball or a take-away, immediately have players go into a clearing and riding mode. The objective is to ride hard and clear the ball past midfield. Are we all together so far?

The twist is that once the ball is cleared past the midfield line, the pole (or the defender who has cleared past the midfield line might be a D middie) passes the ball back to one of the original offensive players, and then the player making the pass exits the drill. The offensive player, who had been riding, catches the pass, and then he and his original offensive teammates come flying back down the same end of the field in transition. The original defensive unit is now down to five players (as one exited the field), and they have to get back quickly, get set up, communicate, and we are now playing 6v5 to a quick shot. The next group then takes the field for 6v6, and we repeat the scenario.

So now, all in the same drill, we have been even to a clear then back into transition mode to add a little more excitement and pace. I hope you consider limiting your allocation of practice time to 6v6. Most college coaches will tell you that 85% of the goals come in some sort of transition, not in straight 6v6 or "even" scenarios, yet too many coaches spend a half hour in every practice running six on six.

If you are even considering converting your practice plans away from the "dark side," imagine the possibilities. We are running 4v4 with variation; we play offense 4v4 (integrating picks or driving one-on-one to a shot or turnover; we clear and then come back down in a 4v3, which is much more game-realistic. Or running a 3v3 then adding one to each side to make it 4v4, to a shot, a clear, and then transition 4v3 back down ... with a little creativity it can be very cool and better prepare players to be successful.

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