We are on the field and in the stands every day watching what different high school and college coaches are doing with their teams to get ready for game time. Here are 8 ways you can upgrade your pregame warm-ups to get your players feet and sticks moving and maximize their touches on the ball.
Not all of us have the luxury of an hour or hour-and-a-half to warm up on the field before every game. You need to make the most of that time if you want your players ready to go 110% once the clock starts.
Every coach has their own favorite ways to get their players in physical and mental shape before big games. Every athlete needs time to stretch, warm up their muscles and joints, and to give their muscles and minds plenty of reps with the exact motions and situations they will see when the first whistle blows.
To do this, make sure you are maximizing the number of times your players touch the ball, and keep them moving at a relaxed pace throughout their warm up drills. This goes for practice too.
- If you want your players to pick up ground balls, make sure they practice that scooping motion plenty of times.
- If you want them throwing great split dodges, they should probably practice lots of split dodges before they actually get on the field.
- Your goalies should probably see 100-200 shots before the game if you want them to make big saves.
You don't want to do too little, otherwise they will be stiff and slow, physically and mentally. You also don't want to do too much. Don't tire your players out before the game starts. They need to have some energy left in the tank if the game goes into Over Time!
Here are 8 drills we see good coaches using in their pregame warmups:
We saw these great passing and catching warm-up drills at summer camp for one of the top DI teams. Work on multiple skills at once to get your team through line drills in less time! It only takes one more second to get each player an extra catch and throw while they're in the drill. Do twice as much work in the same amount of time.
Run these Extra Pass drills in one group of Midfielders, one group of Attack and Defenders. Or work in small groups to get each player more reps, more muscle memory, and more conditioning.
Use these passing and catching drills to practice moving the ball with both hands both directions, picking up grounds balls, dodging, rolling away from pressure, anything your players will do in a game.
The best thing about Inside Out warm-up drills is that they imitate the same distances and positions your players are going to see on the field. It doesn't matter if you use them during practice or before a game, setting up your passing and catching, ground ball, or dodging drills around the goal will give your players more experience in realistic game situations.
Plus! Warm up your goalies in the middle while the rest of your players work around the outside. Your goalies must concentrate on the shots coming at them with all the extra activity going on, just like they will see at game time.
We saw the Defenders for a top-5 college lacrosse team running the classic Star Drill before a game earlier this season. All the Defenders were in the alley outside the goal area box while the rest of the players were shooting. They were only 10 yards apart, making tons of simple catches and throws with their hands choked half-way up on their long poles.
The Star Drill is classic for a reason. Your players have to focus on passing, catching, communicating, and moving through the middle of the drill. Catch the ball from one direction, look, pass and move it another direction through lots of traffic.
We see lots of coaches running this simple Footwork and Ground Ball Drill in the alley outside the goal area box on both sides while the Goalies are still getting warmed up.
You can run it in groups of 2 or 3 for extra passes and touches on the ball.
This simple drill starts with some Defensive Footwork for guarding the man with the ball. It then becomes a ground ball, passing and communication drill.
This drill is so simple you can have your players run this drill themselves in small groups or by position (Midfield, Defense, etc.).
We saw a few NCAA teams using this great dodging drill during Conference Playoffs last season. Your players will get plenty of touches catching and throwing, plus they can practice their "moves" before game time!
This drill gives your players lots of chances to practice any Dodge they want to work on with both hands. If you want your players to throw good Split Dodges or Roll Dodges in games, they should probably do 10 or 20 or 100 of those moves before the game, either in practice or in your pregame warm-ups.
We see lots of coaches running the Classic "Man/Ball" Drill in the alleys on both sides of the goal area box while the Goalies are still warming up taking shots.
Man/Ball is a classic for a reason. Picking up loose balls results in extra possessions and extra chances to score. You can't expect to win if you can't pick up the ball.
Get your players a little bit of contact before they go into the game. Two players must work together to scoop the loose ball and move it right away. The lone Defender has to get in there and fight for the loose ball. All great things to do before you get on the field!
You could also run this same drill with a 3-on-2 situation on both sides of the goal area box.
We saw this rapid-fire shooting drill from another Top-10 NCAA team in pregame warm-ups last season. Do this drill with your players to work on dodging, passing, and finishing in tight on the Crease!
We love this drill because it gets your players Dodging and passing, scoring those crucial lay-ups, and it's great work for your goalies to see tons of shots in a short amount of time.
When we watched the college guys do it, the Goalies had already warmed up with literally hundreds of shots before the game even started.
4-on-3 Fast Breaks happen multiple times in every game, especially with youth and beginners. No matter what level you coach, make sure your team understands how to work the numbers advantage so they can score!
Imitate game situations, give your offensive players time to move the ball and go to the goal, get your Defenders moving their feet and communicating who is guarding the ball. Get your Goalies to see some live action shots!
This is the last thing your should probably do before the game starts. Work your way up to 5-on-4 and 6-on-5 Breaks by adding in players on both Offense and Defense. They should be pumped up by now!
It's been at least two years, and we still see Notre Dame Head Coach Kevin Corrigan using this pregame drill to get his Goalies throwing Clearing passes, his Defense crashing back to the "Hole", and his Offense moving their feet and moving the ball to put shots on target.
3-on-2's are easy, 4-on-3's are great, but 5-on-4's are the way you really see if your players are ready to play.
Make sure you work on all these in practice a few times before you bring them out on game days.
Try it out and let us know how it goes for your team at your next game!