Lax Coach Mike: Add a Twist to Start Your Lacrosse Drills

By Mike Muetzel,

Like you, I am always looking for new dills and ideas to keep lacrosse practices fresh, interesting, and engaging. And perhaps like you, I see the benefit in a lot of mandatory 4v4 work as well as 6v6. Although 70% of my practice drills involve some sort of transition, I still struggle with ways to keep our "even" lacrosse drills engaging and fast-paced as well as different each day and interesting for players.

Recently in a practice where I was coaching with my friend Wayne Warren, he added a twist that I loved. The basic concept might not be new; however, the potential variations make it an awesome tool for all of us.

He started the drill with a simple 1v1 ground ball competition with two players. Now the twist. The player who gains possession of the ground ball is immediately in the drill. The player who did not come up with the ground ball slowly counts to four and then sprints into the drill. Thus, we kind of start "even" but have a quick transition possibility. Then, as the defender "recovers" back into play, we are even again. I have found this to be very game realistic and a great way to practice.

As I grow older, I have gone far more to 1v1 ground ball competitions rather than 2v1, as I believe even if there are four or five players in a scramble for a ground ball in the game, very often it is a single player's hard work that determines possession. As much as our game has progressed and evolved both offensively and defensively, the basic fundamental of winning the most ground balls results in more possessions and ultimately more goals.

Unfortunately, as we focus on ground balls in practice, we can still have a lot of players standing rather than getting touches and being active. This drill is another great way to integrate more ground ball work into practice plans and maintain a quick pace and keep more players involved. In addition, this technique reinforces the need for both the offense and defense to recognize where we are at this point in time in a game. Offensive players need to recognize the opportunity for a quick look in transition, while defenders and our goalie need to communicate, talk, and recognize their slides as well as pick up offensive players when we are back to even.

The drill sounds basic, but the variations are endless. For example, if we are running a 4v4, "even" repetition, begin with a 1v1 ground ball and thus we have very brief transition or slow break scenario. But defensively if we can hold them out for just four seconds, the drill quickly moves into the normal 4v4 rep. The 4v4 is basically the same even we you run in it Y formations; we are just beginning by adding important fundamental work on ground ball play.

Additional Variations

If we start with two middies or offensive players, we can begin at one corner at the top of the box for the first rep and then toggle or immediately start the second rep with a 1v1 ground ball at the far side top of the box. This helps keep it interesting for the players.

We might also begin the drill at the top of the box for the first rep then toggle to a 1v1 ground ball with an attackman and defenseman in the corner at GLE or behind at X. First repetition in the drill with the ground ball delayed defensive middie up top and then immediately to the 1v1 ground ball beginning behind with attackmen and poles and back and forth. If the defender wins the ground ball competition behind, we go immediately into a clear.

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