Lax Coach Mike: The 'Belly Drill' for All Ages

By Mike Muetzel,

This drill is crazy and our kids love it! It is a great way to finish the day with all-out sprints and transition in a lacrosse game scenario.

It always surprises lacrosse coaches who attend our practices or camps/clinics how little pure conditioning we actually do, if at all. Occasionally we run or condition players two-thirds of the way through a practice and then run situational scrimmages, where they really need to think while they are tired or gassed. Practice minutes are critical, and I believe they need to be planned in terms of touches and situational learning by doing. Dedicating even 10 minutes to pure running is time that might be better utilized or at the very least combined with lacrosse fundamentals and touches. Pure running does not help players improve at throwing and catching, especially at the youth and developmental level.

At the same time, we want to add the critical elements of fun, transition, and competition to as many lacrosse drills as we can. This keeps players engaged and, at the youth levels, eager to come back.

Finally, over my 35 years of coaching, I am sometimes surprised at how much the players love a drill that I assume they will dread, and that is the case here. I have no idea why they love it, but they do.

This drill is great for players at all levels. It is also one that players look forward to. We use it for a conditioning supplement one or two days a week for 8-10 minutes at the end of practice. For high school teams, we run the midfield line, half field to the cage. For U15 or U13, you might begin 10 yards inside the midfield line.

We split the entire team into two groups evenly, with poles, middies and attack in each. The white pennies are on one side of the coach, and the blue group begins on the other. I usually start White on offense, Blue on defense for 4-5 minutes then switch.

For example, with White on offense, I will call out, "Give me 5 White and 4 Blue." Players sprint out anywhere on the half field in front of them and lay on their bellies, similar to the old up-down drills in football. The coach launches the ball, which might be close to players or even deep into a corner or anywhere in between. It is also great because the players need to react to numbers on the field based on the call.

Players need to locate the ground ball while laying on their bellies and play. If White gets the ground ball, they are on offense sprinting to the cage for transition offense and a quick shot. If Blue gets the GB, they clear past the midfield line.

It won't be long before players begin to develop strategies, getting on their bellies close to the opposition and so on. It is critical to the purpose of the drill that players jog back quickly to get in line, thus a sprint down the field and a fast jog back. If the defense gets possession and clears, even if they had lower numbers, they are rewarded without having to jog back; they are already close to the lines.

Next time might be 3v2 or 3v3 or sometimes even one less offensive player with one extra defensive player to encourage double teams. Every group is different for five minutes. Then White goes to defense, Blue goes to offense, and so on. It is about conditioning, ball movement, defense, and transition on both sides.

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All of the previous articles on coaching and drills from Lax Coach Mike can be found on the Lacrosse Drills, Instruction, and Training page. His eBook is also available.


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