Line Drills are the easiest way to start a lacrosse practice. They get your players' feet and sticks moving so they will be ready for game situation drills. Here are 12 simple changes you can make to get the most out of this precious practice time.
All of us here at Lax Library spent tons of time in line drills when we started playing lacrosse, just like you probably did. Hours and hours of practice scooping, catching, and throwing with both sides while running at full speed. However, we also spent a lot of time waiting in line and chasing after bad passes, which can eat up precious minutes at practice.
Try some of the warm-up drills below in place of your usual line drills at your next practice to maximize the number of times each of your players touch the ball. These drills will get you more repetition, more muscle memory and more movement in your warm-ups so you can get into 2-on-1 game situation drills and scrimmages more quickly!
Stick skills should be your #1 priority right now. As a youth or high school coach, especially at the beginning of each season, you need all your players to develop muscle memory to catch, throw, and run. 6-on-6 drills, settled offense and man-up plays will all come later.
- Related: Wall Ball is the #1 way to make catching and throwing an individual responsibility for your players outside of practice time. Check out our full list of Wall Ball Drills to improve stick skills.
Here at Lax Library, we are big fans of making fitness and conditioning work part of our drills and games, instead of making it an after-thought or a punishment at the end of practice. All your drills and games should keep your players active, engaged, and moving the entire time they are with you. Even water breaks should involve a jog.
12 Simple Ways to Improve your Line Drills:
1.) Every line needs back-up balls!
It sounds simple enough, but maybe you forget sometimes. Keep extra balls at every line in your drills.
It happens all the time--one bad pass shuts down the whole drill. Now everybody is standing still waiting for one guy to come back with the ball. Back-up balls at each line can keep the drill moving so you can practice what you intended to work on.
2.) Make Smaller Groups!
If you have more than two or three players standing in a line during an activity, that's too many. Try running your same catching, throwing and ground ball drills in smaller groups of 3 to 5 instead of one big line so each player is in the drill more often and gets more repetitions of any skill or situation you are working on.
Try these Small Group Drills:
3.) "Hamster" Drills: Practice the same skills you would work on in your normal line drills, except have your players work in groups of 3 to 5 practicing catching, throwing, ground balls and dodging. By the time they get done with one rep, it's their turn to go again, like being in a hamster wheel that never stops. No time to rest, only time for lots of touches on the ball and running.
4.) Try these College Ground Ball Drills we saw at practice last spring. These small-group drills have several variations that will definitely give your players plenty of practice scooping, throwing and most importantly of all, running. Plus there are plenty of variations.
5.) Figure "8" Passing and Catching Drills: We got these great 3-man passing and catching drills from Paul Rabil's high school coach at DeMatha (Md.) a few years ago. These are a great way to build fitness and conditioning while you work on stick sills.
6.) 2-on-1 Man/Ball Drill: Instead of having one big group, split your players into groups of 4. Each group can run their own 2-on-1 Man/Ball Drill in different locations around the field. In each group, you have three people participating in the drill and one to throw the ball out.
- Make it a competition: the guy that wins the ball every time throws the ball out next so he gets a break.
7.) Combine Skills to Get Extra Touches!
College coaches are very good at combining skills like catching, throwing, scooping, dodging and defending to get more work done in a smaller amount of time at practice. It only takes one more second to get each player an extra catch and throw.
8.) Check out these great Extra Pass Line Drills we got from one of the top DI teams during summer camp. Work on multiple skills at once to get your team through line drills in less time at practice!
9.) 1-on-1 Ground Ball, Dodging and Defense Drill: Another great small-group drill for combining skills and giving your players tons of reps scooping, catching, passing, and working on Dodges- Split Dodge, Roll Dodge, Split/Roll, Finalizer, Swim Dodge, Toe Drag, Zig Zag, etc.
10.) Square Dodging and Passing Drill: Try this college pregame dodging drill we saw a few teams use last year. Tons of touches on the ball, plus every player gets to practice his "moves" at practice or before game time.
11.) Imitate Game Situations!
Very rarely in a game do you run straight at the next guy on your team over and over. Your practice drills and pregame warm ups should put your players in the same positions and locations on the field and the same situations they will see in games.
We started to see college teams and some really good high school teams start using these great "Inside-Out" Passing warm-up drills last year. They work on stick skills, catching, throwing and dodging in game situations, all at the same time!
Last but definitely not least:
12.) Maybe Don't Worry So Much About the Weak Hand...
Although this may sound like blasphemy to many, here at Lax Library, we are slowly coming around to the new school thinking. If you want your players to be successful in game situations, then you should probably put them in as many game situations as possible. They should be able to use their weak hand sometimes, when they really need to, but not enough that you should devote equal practice time. They can work on their weak hand on their own on the wall outside of practice time.
Canadian and Box Lacrosse coaches let their players play with their good side all the time. With some high-profile College and Pro stars getting a lot of attention the last few years, plus a World Championship under their belts, perhaps there is something to this Canadian way to play. The last few years in the NCAA nearly 60 percent of the nation’s top 15 scorers were Canadian or Iroquois. "Any outdoor player that wants to play in college is going to want to have this 'Canadian skill set,'" as Notre Dame's Kevin Corrigan puts it.
By spending less time at practice working on stick skills with the weak hand, you can devote even more time to 2-on-1 and game situation drills, and play more "games". Maybe it's not so important that all your players catch with the left hand in a particular situation all the time.
Plus, letting your players use which ever hand will give them the most success also puts them in more positions to be successful. Let them figure out what works best for them. Remember, youth and high school sports is about development.
Make sure you let us know if you find success with some of these drills or ideas with your team. Good luck this season!