Lax Coach Mike: Long Passing Drills Matter!

By Mike Muetzel,

OK, so we have heard over and over we need to replace our line lacrosse drills. We have written about drills that feature a lot of touches, right and left, in a short period of time. It is not as hard as you might think to get each player 50-70 touches in 8-10 minutes in a drill, even at the very beginning of practice. But, at least for me, in my shooting drills as well as other drills involving stick work, passes tend to be 15-20 yards ... a lot of passes and touches but almost all at short range.

In order to get into transition sooner and faster, players need to be able to make 20-30 yard passes, throwing and catching on the run as well. John Jez, head coach LIU Post offers a unique alternative for coaches and teams of all ages.

Remember the criterion for a drill is about emulating a game situation as well as keeping things moving quickly. In this case, we get a bonus as there are a number of variations to the drill to highlight different fundamentals within the basic framework of the drill.

We have four lacrosse players; the 'outside' players are stationed at the sidelines across the width of the field. The two 'inside' players are positioned about where the hash marks would be on a football field (see diagram below). The key points are to keep two balls and all four players active and moving, throwing and catching, at all times. Many of us have used a variation of this drill with just a single player in the middle, but this version is so much better. OK so far?

The drill starts with a pass from the outside player to the inside player. The inside player is moving to the ball, makes the catch, and throws a return pass back to the outside player. The inside player then turns and runs to catch a pass from the outside player on the far side, returns the pass and so on. But this drill runs from both sides at the same time; thus, four players are active and two balls are in the air at all times. Please remember to keep a pile of balls at the feet of each outside player, so if there is an errant pass, the player can picks up a new ball and continue at a fast pace. Do not slow down to chase balls ... please, especially with younger players.

After a brief period of time, the two inside players go to be outside players, and the outside players switch to the inside. So that is the basic drill, but what makes it great is the flexibility.

For Youth Players

Four players U15 and younger or players of lesser skills, move all lines a little closer. Make the distance between outside players perhaps 30 yards and limit passes to 15 yards.

Over the Top

To add a unique twist to the drill, the ball starts with the outside player who passes to the inside player. The inside player then turns and throws a long pass over the top to the outside player on the far side of the field. I love drills that require looking up and moving the ball immediately, focusing on a quick pass up the field rather than running. And again, everyone needs to be awake, as there are four players active and two balls in the air at the same time.

Integrate Ground Balls

Another option is to add a ground ball where there had been a pass. It might be from the inside player to the outside player or from the outside player to the inside player or both. Here the focus is to pick up the ball, look up, and move the ball. For more advanced players, you might even have them alternate which hand they use to pick up the ground ball or force them to go with their weaker hand.

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