Lax Coach Mike: 1v1 Ground Balls to Traditional Fast Breaks

By Mike Muetzel,

I have been receiving e-mail from lacrosse coaches who visit asking me to offer more drills for younger or developmental teams. I almost always respond by saying that nearly all college drills can be run in a way to accommodate developmental players or teams with smaller rosters (e.g., modified for a half-field set-up versus the full-field drills we can run with larger rosters). Just keep a ton of balls at every station, keep the drills moving, and never chase loose balls under the bleachers.

This week's lacrosse drill is a hybrid combining a traditional fast break drill with a few concepts often inserted by top NCAA coaches. Although I am a huge proponent of transition drills or drills that feature a one-player advantage for the offense, there is still a place for the traditional fast break drill, especially with younger or developing teams.

Remember too that most college lacrosse coaches do not run the traditional three player man-ball drill, as they have concluded that most ground balls in game situations are not two against one but usually one-on-one or two-on-two.

Basic Format

In the most basic format, we are going to set up the offensive end of the field with three attack and three defenders. I do recommend not letting them simply stand at one end of the field in the 'L' formation but rather have both the offensive and defensive players adjust on the run (see Old Fast Break Drills ... the New Way). So in this case, let's have the attack and defense between the midfield line and the restraining line on the offensive end of the field. This drill is applicable for players from U13 to high school.

At the far end restraining line, we have a coach or a player with balls to roll out to begin the drill. We also have two players who will compete 1v1 for a ground ball. We recommend continually changing from "ground balls to ... " and "ground balls away ... " as well as ground balls very close and ground balls 10 to 15 yards out. In addition, have a line of players at the midfield line on the same side of the field. The coach rolls out a ball, and the two players compete 1v1 for the ground ball. As one player gains possession, he immediately looks up and passes the ball to the player in front at the midfield line. This player now initiates the traditional 4v3 fast break. College lacrosse coaches always stress "ground ball pass pass" and this is a great way to introduce or reinforce this concept.

I also recommend using your poles, other attackmen, as well as middies in the two competitive ground ball lines. Whoever wins the ground ball battle can as a reward advance to the line of players at the midfield line (including our other poles). Whoever loses the battle returns to one of the two ground ball lines to then again compete again for a ground ball.

Basic Format Option

Another option is to allow the two ground ball players to continue into the fast break. Thus, we have a traditional 4v3 followed by an offensive as well as a defensive trailer. If we do not get a good look at the cage immediately, we are now 5v4 in more of a slow break philosophy.

Or if we did get a good look at the cage on the traditional fast break offense, now we roll out a second ground ball anywhere on the offensive end, and we compete in a 5v4 scramble to additional offensive play or a clear. In the meantime, we are again competing for a 1v1 ground ball at the other end. Keep it moving!

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