Lax Coach Mike: A Great Twist on 1v1, the Army Way

By Mike Muetzel,

In a recent podcast with Joe Alberici, the Army head coach shared a great twist on one-on-one lacrosse drills we absolutely loved. We do have specific criteria for lacrosse drills that we recommend, and they are non-negotiable. They must truly emulate game scenarios, they must be fast paced, and they have to be fun.

In over 30 years of coaching, I don't know how we missed this awesome twist on 1v1 drills, thus Coach Alberici is a great NCAA lacrosse coach, and I am sitting in the basement writing articles as your humble correspondent.

We used to run 1v1 drills from the four corners, one repetition right after another. We had the offensive players rotate clockwise, and the defenders rotating counterclockwise. Then I thought I was a little wiser, and we would incorporate 1v1 drills into 4v4 or even 6v6 work. At the beginning of the 4v4, the player with the ball was not allowed to pass until he drove to the cage or was doubled.

We would force each player to take the ball outside the box and make up his mind to simply run by the defender, then draw a slide, and we would play. Actually, it was a good way to integrate this important 'part of the-whole' into our drills. At the same time, we would work with defenders to arrive with a check and to depart with a check, but other than that, we quit coaching 'checks, even poke checks' and strictly focused on strong stance and position, pushing into the ball carrier at the appropriate time, and lifting the bottom hand when they went to pass or shoot.

We also fell in love with a great lacrosse drill from Coach Lars Tiffany (Brown). His 'general drill' focuses on all of the above as well as stick position and driving middies into the alley when they drive from up top.

But Alberici's twist on the drill is awesome. In practices, we toggle two or three positions or reps on this drill in terms of locations on the field to keep it extremely fast paced. In the basic version of the drill for attack and close D, we begin by placing two cones on the field. Picture if you will a cone 4 yards above goal line extended (GLE) off the corner of the cage or pipe. Now place another cone six to seven yards behind GLE on the same side.

The drill begins with an offensive and a defensive player running into position. The players are standing shoulder to shoulder right on GLE, close to the crease at the pipe on the same side where we had placed the cones (see diagram following the article).

A coach or player stands 10-15 yards away with the balls. On the whistle, the defender immediately sprints around the cone slightly in front. At the same time, the offensive player (attack) sprints to the cone behind the cage. As the offensive player approaches that cone, the coach throws him the ball. Now the defender is coming on the run to play defense. We are coaching a quick approach to the ball carrier and breaking down into a good defensive body position. We are also coaching where we want his stick position to be, goalie communication, as well as the lift check as the player begins to shoot.

The offensive player catches the ball at the back cone, immediately has to protect his stick with good technique, and is in full "go to the cage" mode. And we play out the 1v1. After just a few seconds, we repeat with two new players and cones in the appropriate places (the defender's cone is slightly closer than the offensive player's cone) on the other side of the pipe or even up top with middies. The key is to keep it moving fast.

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