Lax Coach Mike: Jake Coon's Unsettled Drill at RIT

By Mike Muetzel,

In our recent podcast with RIT head coach Jake Coon, he shared one of his most favorite lacrosse drills, and we love it too!

Like many coaches, I struggle with the balance of running specific plays and just playing lacrosse. The game is so fluid that often counting exclusively on scripted plays can be difficult, yet teaching players basic offensive philosophies ("cut or clear through" etc.) in a scramble-type environment is also a challenge with many rosters. Teaching teams to react and freelance is a challenge but will result in more quality looks at the cage.

The "Coon Unsettled Drill" offers a great vehicle for teaching the players just to "play" lacrosse, to read and react, and be comfortable in different unsettled scenarios.

This is an "upper-level skills and roster" drill, although I will break it down to be applicable to younger teams and smaller rosters after we go through the drill as they run it full field at RIT.

To begin, we have three attack, three defensemen, and a goalie at each end. We have three middies (great place to include LSMs) in one color and three middies wearing a different colored pennie coming out of the box towards the midfield line. In front of them at the midfield line is Coach Coon.

The drill begins with a 3v3 ground ball rolled towards the box area to the six oncoming players. The roll might be to all players or to the outside, soft or bouncing, always a bit different. The team that gains possession then quickly moves to the offensive end to get off a quick shot, generally within 10-15 seconds at RIT. One of the key elements of focus for Coon is off-ball cutting and movement. This is important to keep in mind when coaching and teaching the drill.

What really makes this drill an excellent learning experience is that it is never the same. It might be a 4v3, a 5v3, to a 6v6. There is no way to predict, as it depends on who gains the ground ball, where other players are at the time, or even where they might win the ground ball on the field. It is really a great way to emulate the unsettled chaos we so often see in games, and it is a scenario where we want to score in this transition moment.

So, as one team moves into the offensive end for a quick shot, it gets interesting. Following the shot, or even just following a 15-second period, Coach Coon blows a single blast on his whistle, rolls the ball to one of the previous defenders, and all players sprint down to the opposite end, again in any configuration of transition, to another 10-15 second shot. In the case of RIT, if the goalie makes a save, he then outlets the ball with a pass to Coach Coon standing at the midfield line, who then immediately rolls a ground ball to one of the previous defensive players to sprint the other way.

This quick tempo, going both ways continues until each group has gone into its offensive end three times. Thus, we also have an incredible conditioning drill for the middies.

To add the conditioning element for the attack and defensive players, there is a twist. Once the ball leaves the offensive end into a full-field transition the other way, the three attackmen and three defenders from the defensive end need to sprint up to and touch the midfield line and then prepare to drop back for the next offensive transition trip to their end.

Following three trips both ways, Coach Coon blows a double blast on the whistle, and the drill proceeds with a new group of 3v3 middies on a ground ball who play three trips each etc.

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