Coaching: Spice Up Your Half-Field Drills!

This leaves a player open on the perimeter and hopefully not a player open in the crease for a 'bunny'. This is not as easy for the offense as you might think given all the players in the half-field set. The offense needs to work as a unit; they need to recognize and move the ball quickly. Because of the number of players on the field, it necessitates quicker, sharper, short passes. Coach Garber offer the advice to his offensive players: "Read the moves of the defense."

Offensively, as a coach, you might focus on "carry, clear, and pass" or "catch, pass, and cut" or "carry, pass back, pass back" or any other basic philosophies of your offense, but done in a crowded, tighter space.

Defensively, we are coaching players to talk, communicate, and recognize ... but always to so with pressure on the ball. The coaching focus is for slide and recovery. The defense might intuitively drop into a zone, but they must play man-to-man. Or one day in practice you might even allow them to go with a zone if the ball is at X.

If the defense gets a stop or save, they then have to clear the ball past midfield. Again, they really need to focus, as they are now clearing with seven players with eight players riding, forcing them to move to open space and quickly move the ball.

For both the offensive and defensive players, this drill forces them to focus on off ball better than any other drill I have used in practice. If you are coach integrating pick play into your offense, the drill offers a unique opportunity to integrate it both on ball and off ball in a fun and different format. Coach Garber recommends playing three short sticks and three poles on defense. As always, keep score and make it competitive with a reward for the winners.

Coach Garber often refers to this drill in his time-outs during games if they are having difficulty with slides in a settled 6v6 situation. He reminds players that they can slide and stop eight if they just go back to the concepts of the 86 Drill. If your defense can begin to play well in the 86 Drill, there is no doubt they will play much better in games when 6v6. I love it! is a unique site for lacrosse coaches, offering drills and ideas from the greatest coaches in the country. E-mail your comments to

All of the previous articles on coaching and drills from Lax Coach Mike can be found on the Lacrosse Drills, Instruction, and Training page.

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