We got this great drill from working with some PLL players a few weeks ago. Let your players play, while also improving stick skills, communication and team concepts on Offense and Defense, all at the same time!
Defense Wins Championships
Every good coach knows that. "Lacrosse is a Race to 10 (goals)." Whoever gets to 10 first normally wins the game. If you can keep the other team under 10, you're probably going to win. If your team can't stop the ball or get it to your Offense, you can't score goals. If your Offense can't hang on to the ball, your team is going to spend a lot of time on Defense.
Defense is all about playing as a Team!
If you think about it, your Defenders are only guarding the ball 1/6th of the time. That means they are off-ball 5/6th of the time. That's 83.33%! Your Defense is a unit, with on-ball and off-ball responsibilities, and core principles and concepts. Your players change their positions and responsibilities based on where the ball is. Make sure you spend plenty of time practicing Team Defense and Communication, so your players know exactly what you want them to do!
"Trigger" Slides, Rotations, and Recoveries!
"Hot!" "Two!" "Left!" "Right!" "Fire!" "Rico!" Whatever your Base Defense is, Adjacent or Crease, all of the complex pieces of good Team Defense can be very difficult to practice. Younger and inexperienced players don't have very good stick skills, or they struggle to beat their Defenders. Sometimes you need a way to "Trigger" the situations that happen in games so you can work on them in practice.
In this drill, your Offense works on keeping the ball, maintaining possessions, passing, moving, etc. You can even go through your Play Progressions. At the same time, your Defense can send on-ball pressure, work on Off-Ball Positioning, go through the whole Slide Package, Rotations, and Recovery, back to Man-on-Man Defense.
This drill is great for imitating game situations. It's like a scrimmage with very specific teaching points. You can do it any day at practice with 3-on-3, 4-on-4, all the way up to 6-on-6. Saves, Ground Balls, Clears, it's got everything. If it's good enough for the PLL guys, it's good enough for us. We're using this drill all the time with our college teams, and our players love it!!!
HERE'S THE DRILL!
3-on-3 Adjacent Slide and Recovery:
Split your players into two teams. Make sure all your players get to play both sides of the ball to create well-rounded players.
Put 4 cones around the outside of the Attack Box- one up top, one on each wing, one on the Endline.
Figure 1.) Here we are starting with 3-on-3 for simplicity. Start the drill by saying "Go!" You'll see why in a minute. Blue is playing "Keep Away" until the whistle blows. This is a time to work on moving and passing, keeping hands free, separating from the Defense, stick protection, etc. Sometimes, just keeping the ball is challenge enough.
Defense: Communicate at all times as the ball moves! At 3-on-3, somebody always has to cover the "Ball!" (Red 2 here), who is the "Help Left!" (Red 1) and who is the "Help Right!" (Red 3). If your players also understand their Second Slide Responsibilities, Red 1 is also the "2 Right!" and Red 3 is also the "2 Left!" Help. Goalies should also be communicating what the Off-Ball Responsibilities are here.