Lacrosse Coaching: Do You Practice What You Play?

Before you say the answer for you is yes, please consider the following three key points. OK, so you might be thinking this is another article about each and every one of your lacrosse drills directly emulating a game situation ... and you would be right to a degree ... can you say line drills? Or not.

Movement

Every lacrosse coach has been frustrated at one point or another during a game while watching his team in the offensive end. In this specific scenario, one player has the ball and five others are doing their best imitation of a 200-year-old statue standing in the park. They are standing and watching, albeit occasionally with great interest, but standing nonetheless. And coaches get frustrated. And coaches will then begin yelling at their kids. Now both coaches and kids are frustrated.

Yet when we practice, we often spend way too many 5-10 minute segments with six kids standing around on offense, six standing around on defense, and another 10 talking amongst themselves on the sidelines. All while you the coach are explaining the details of the complicated offensive play that they have yet to run successfully in a game. Frankly, you have probably been coaching for three years and have never had a team that ran that play successfully.

Yet the on-field lectures continue, and the more they seem not to be paying attention, the more we yell and continue to lecture. From the many NCAA coaching legends we have interviewed, the answer is clearly not more lectures on the field. If you have ever found yourself dragging one player by the corner of his jersey to the spot you want him to go on the field or had to yell repeatedly for players to pay attention to your on field lectures, it is probably time for a change.

If you want players to move during games, then they need to be constantly moving in the practice. If you want your players to play fast, then practice fast. If you want your players to drive while the adjacent player ‘fills' or ‘mirrors' then increase the repetitions in your drills and scrimmages and positively reward the correct behavior rather than increase the lectures.

Urgency

All of us have found ourselves in situations where we are behind in a game or have just a few seconds to get off a shot at the end of a quarter or half. Why is it that when the score is in our favor the clock drags forever, yet when we are behind, the clock seems to race with a mind of its own?

In our podcasts with all of the great coaches, there has been a new practice phenomenon that we encountered over and over again. There are more drills in each practice, and the drills are shorter in duration, often seven to 10 minutes maximum, thereby keeping players engaged and interested.

But the new concept with college coaches is to keep a clock on the field for each drill throughout practice. If the clock is set at seven minutes, then the drill is over in seven minutes and in many cases a horn goes off announcing the end of the drill. Then it's on to the next drill in the practice plan immediately, and the clock for it starts counting down immediately. Players are encouraged by the coaches as the time runs down to get off 15 more shots or 20 more touches. And at all times during the drill, they are aware of the time.

Can you begin to see the genius and the benefits of this technique? So now in the course of a two-hour practice, the coaches have created a real sense of urgency more than 10 times during the practice. In addition, the kids begin to understand and appreciate exactly how long one minute or 30 seconds or 15 seconds really are during a game.

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2010-09-02



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