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Six Strategies for Keeping Possession

If you look at it, especially if you are coaching beginners, turnovers in the offensive end are the #1 cause of goals scored against your team. Use these simple practice and game tips to keep the ball in your sticks!

As players, we spent years playing lots and lots of Defense, staring at the bad end of lop-sided victories where we lost by double digits. You can learn a lot by losing.

As coaches working with new teams, the first thing we fix is Offensive Turnovers. Whether from bad passes and catches, losing ground balls, giving the Goalie easy saves, or five players standing still watching one guy get the ball taken away, offensive turnovers usually result in 4-on-3 Fast Breaks, full-field sprints, more time on Defense, and more goals for the other guys.

Give your Defense and especially your Goalie a break by keeping the ball! It can be a frustrating downward spiral for your team giving up goal after goal, week after week. Some times you just need to play "Keep Away" from the other team to give your Defense time to rest and give your team a boost of confidence.

Here are six practice and game strategies we see from coaches all over to maintain possession and keep the ball away from the other team. It sounds simple, but you can't score any goals if you don't have the ball.

lacrosse possession offense strategies plays

Figure 1.) "Through 'X'!" This is one of the oldest and most common strategies we hear from coaches. Before going to the goal or doing anything that might lose the ball, your team must move the ball behind the goal, through "X". If you're going to lose the ball, at least here it is at the other end of the field, as far away from your goal as possible.

This is also a good way to draw the eyes and attention of the Defense down field, so that maybe one of your other players upfield can cut or get open in better shooting position in front of the goal.

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  • 3-on-3 "Guts" Keep-Away Possession Game: Use this small group game with your players to keep possession, cut to get open, move the ball to open teammates, plus get some conditioning work at the same time!
  • The "Two-Minute" Possession Drill: Coaches have been using this classic practice drill for decades to keep the ball inside the box for the last two minutes of the game when their team is ahead. Although it no longer applies to NCAA rules, and will only apply to close games in the NFHS in 2017, it's still a great way to practice keeping possession in tight spaces.
  • Do THIS Before You Double-Team the Ball! Every week we see teams lose close games because they struggle to get the ball back when they need it most. Use this simple technique before you “Double” the ball to get it back.