youth lacrosse run with eyes up

The Animal Drill

This simple ground ball and passing drill is great for youth and high school lacrosse teams to help players develop stick skills, imitate game situations in practice, and work on everything from ground balls to dodging.

It's called the Animal Drill because your players need to get out there and be an animal, fighting for the ball and going full-steam toward the goal! A cross between traditional 1-on-1 drills and "Man/Ball" drills, the Animal Drill also creates surprises, preparing your players to react on instinct and respond to unsettled situations during games.

The best thing about the Animal Drill (also called "Crazy 8's") is its flexibility. You can run it with any number of players, anywhere on the field.

Add your own creative variations to the drill to keep your players guessing and keep your practices fun!


Split your team into two squads. Assign each player a number so that both squads have a player 1, player 2, 3, 4, and so on.

Mix your long poles in just like everybody else. More and more coaches now want their Defenders and Long-Stick-Midfielders (LSM) to know how to run the Breaks down field and go to the goal!

animal drill youth lacrosse one on one

Figure 1.) Coach will throw out a loose ball and call a number. If Coach calls out “4!”, for example, the 4’s from each team will battle 1-on-1 for the ground ball. One of these two players needs to get the ball, get away to get their hands free to pass, and get the ball back to Coach.

Vary the situation so your players learn to respond and adapt each time. The timing and approach of each player to the ball determines how the situation will play out. Throw the ball far away, or drop it close to where the players started. Throw it out to one side or the other, or right down the middle. Throw from behind them, in front of them, from the side, etc.

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  • Keep the drill moving and get the quickest repetitions possible for each player! Anything that keeps the drill and your players moving!
  • Time your drills for your players' age and attention span to get the most out of your practice time.
  • Add some intensity to practice by keeping score in all your drills. You could give one point to the team for every loose ball they win, two points for goals. Teach your players to compete every day in practice!


  • "Fireball!"- throw in a new loose ball if there's a bad pass or shot out of bounds to keep the drill going with the same players.
  • On your backs- start your players on their backs in sit-up position, on their stomachs or in push-up position. This adds an extra element of conditioning to your drill.
  • Close Quarters- play this same situation with the added pressure of keeping the ball in bounds or in the Box or the Alley. Sidelines are just like extra Defenders!
  • Add in an outlet pass from the Goalie to a clearing defensive Midfielder after a save or goal. Give your goalies extra reps too!
  • Face-Off Battle-Start from a Face Off situation each time. Call out numbers and see who wins the battle.
  • Half-Court- Just like half-court basketball, if the offense doesn't score, the defensive players will clear the ball to the midfield line, then bring the ball back in as the new Offense. Play this out until someone scores.

Tons of options and tons of fun with this drill. Try it out and tell us how it goes! Ground Balls Win Games!