Lax Coach Mike: Multi-Task Lacrosse Shooting Drills

By Mike Muetzel,

Perhaps like me, you are spending more and more time in practice on shooting drills. In fact, we coaches often use shooting drills as a replacement for other, more traditional passing and stickwork drills. They run lightning fast and can often get each player a mix of right- and left-handed touches up to 35 in just eight minutes per drill or a hundred touches in 25 minutes of different drills. I believe the key is to have shooting drills emulate your offense in sets or activity. If the drill is not something your "motion" or possibly a play might not result in that particular look, then modify it so that it does.

In our offense, we do not run a lot of diagonal cuts with a feeder at X, so although that is a great shooting drill, it is not one we include in practice plans. For example, we use more drive from one side behind to the other side then same-side cuts, avoiding feeding over the cage.

For shooting initiating from the top or the wing, it might be a right-hand drive to a roll dodge to a left-hand shot, right-hand pass to left-hand shot, left-hand pass to right-hand catch to pass to a left-hand shot and so on. Some days we put goalies and poles in these drills for 10 minutes as well, and they love it! We can increase touches and make stickwork reps much more fun.

In a recent podcast with head coach Chris Wojcik from Harvard, the Crimson have taken it to a higher level.

For the past four years or so, we have tried to strongly reinforce the principles of two passes off every ground ball. Thus, at practice you might hear "ground ball-pass-pass" 30 times or more. We begin 4v4 work and many of our transition drills with that four-word mantra.

If in the defensive end, ground ball-pass-pass puts us in a fast transition clear upfield. If we are in the offensive end and can make two quick passes to a shot, we most often have re-directed from the strong side to the weak side and a good look at a shot or a catch and dodge to a shot.

At Harvard, they integrate this recipe for success into the way they often run shooting drills. We can adapt this philosophy to almost any two-pass shooting drill you might be running in practices. In this case, we are running the drill in a "skeleton" style or with no defenders, usually without a goalie, because shots come one right after another with a new rep every 2-3 seconds to ensure a ton of touches.

So, perhaps we start redirecting through X. Begin with a skeleton ground ball in the alley off to the side of the box. As soon as we gain possession, a quick pass to X then a quick pass to the opposite side GLE for a shot, or make it a dodge and a shot.

Or to work on redirecting to the weak side by moving the ball up top (more and more common in today's NCAA game), the same ground ball in the alley to a pass to the adjacent corner of the box, across to inside the far corner of the box to a dodge and a shot.

Quick, fast reps make this shooting drill a memory reinforcement tool for players and a winning fundamental. In practices, we make the reps quick and keep players moving. If one drops the ball or there is a really errant pass, players do not stop to pick it up, because the next pass/group is on their heels. So, if a player drops it, just quickly move to the next line. Thus, it becomes more than ground ball-pass-pass; it is now a ground ball resulting in a dodge or shot on the weak side, where I like the chances.

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