Lax Coach Mike: Ground Ball 3-Man Box Drill

By Mike Muetzel,

This ground ball drill is one of my favorites, and I have used it for years. I find it particularly fun and effective for U13, U15, or as a "ground ball station" in your work in practice for varsity or more advanced skill level teams.

The days of the traditional three-man ground ball drill set up as two against one, and we are "taking the body" while the ball rolls 100 yards away into the parking lot, all while 18 other players are standing still and just watching or throwing dirt on each other are long over. The changing nature of today's game and the realistic concern for safety, especially at the youth and HS levels, have put this drill in the archives for lacrosse coaches. We are moving towards body checks directly resulting in penalties, especially at the youth level, so let's modify our drills accordingly.

These old drills are slow, even boring, can be dangerous, and are simply not game-realistic. Unless you desire to encourage a drill where Johnny beats up on the arms of Joey and then knocks him over repeatedly while the ball rolls away three of four times. And then assuming after 30-40 seconds or more, one of the three players gains possession, he then runs 30 yards back and throws the ball to the coach, who is standing in front of the next three players anxious to repeat the exercise (assuming they are paying attention and not talking or bored to tears.) In what offense do players beat on each other then run back and throw the ball back to a coach who is standing still in line? Is this realistic? We can do better.

Successful coaches today are focusing on the fundamentals of picking up a ground ball and moving it with a quick pass or, at higher levels, two quick passes. Quick repetitions and touches are the key to improvement and keeping players engaged. This is a ground ball drill that can be run at a very quick pace with a number of repetitions. And it is in a confined area, teaching a quick short pass to "move the ball!"

I also love the multi-tasking aspect of the drill. It is a 1v1 ground ball competition, then 1v1 offense/defense drill, ultimately to a quick short pass outlet to a player on the run.

Depending on the number of players and coaches, this drill can be run concurrently at least two places on the field or as a station. The 'box' is 15 yards wide, 20 yards long, outlined with cones. This is a quick drill designed to do the following:

1. Have the players locate the loose ball
2. Battle 1v1 for the ground ball
3. Immediately go to 1v1 offense and defense
4. Look up and quickly move the ball

There are three players in the drill. Players 2 and 3 start at the two top cones facing outside into the box (see diagram at the bottom). Their backs are turned away from the ball, which is rolled out gently into the box by Player 1. Key word here is gently. We want a six to seven yard slow roll, not 20 yards down the field. The concept is that the entire ground ball and 1v1 portion of the drill take place in the box defined by the cones. Players 2 and 3 have to locate the ground ball and battle for possession. Player 1, who initially rolled out the ball, turns and has to run 10 yards and then return close to the line or his starting point.

Once a player has possession, it becomes a one-on-one offense and defense drill, all in the defined box. When Player 1 begins to return close to the starting point, he calls for a pass from the player with possession. If the ground ball is picked up quickly, and Player 1 has not yet run all the way around a cone 10 yards away, the offensive player with the ball must dodge or get free to make the pass. Player 2 or 3 gets possession, dodges, and looks up to return a quick pass to Player 1 returning on the run to catch. It is game-realistic and fun.

And immediately the next three are up, and we go again. Each rep should be under 10 seconds, so we can have a lot of repetitions and touches.

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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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