Lacrosse is a dynamic and fast-paced sport that requires a combination of skills, agility, and teamwork. To excel in the game, beginners and intermediate players need to develop a solid foundation of fundamental skills and continuously work on improving their technique. In this blog post, we will explore a variety of lacrosse training drills suitable for players at the beginner and intermediate levels. With a variety of individual and group drills, these will help enhance individual skills, build teamwork, and take you or your players’ performance to the next level.
Ground Balls: Ground balls are the most important part of the game – if you don’t have the ball, you can’t score. Coaches will put players on the field that can get a tough ground ball. These drills help develop those skills to secure ground balls under pressure.
- Individual: Scatter lacrosse balls across a field with a bucket near. Pick up each ground ball and put it in the bucket. Be sure to use good form so it becomes muscle memory. That’s it. It’s a simple drill, but will increase your ability to get ground balls and help you get on the field. (Our faceoff players did this drill in college with tennis balls)
- Group: Have players divide into any number of lines. Every other line is a team:
- 2 lines: they are against each other
- 3 lines: the two on the outside are on a team and the one on the inside is by themself
- 4 lines: lines 1 and 3, 2 and 4 are on a team
On the coach's signal, a ball will be thrown out and players will race to pick up the ball working as a team. Emphasize working as a team and using a protective stance to pick up the ball.
Wall Ball: Wall ball is a fundamental drill that improves stick skills, hand-eye coordination, and overall ball control. The best players play wall ball for 20-30 minutes a day. Find a sturdy (and preferably smooth) wall and stand about 10 yards away from it. Use both hands and practice a variety of throws focusing on accuracy and speed. Find a wall ball routine that compliments your game and time yourself to see how fast you can finish. This is an individual drill, but can become a competition between players for the best time. Below is a wall ball routine I used in college.
- 25 right & left hand overhand passes
- 25 right & left hand sidearm passes
- 25 right & left hand underhand passes
- 25 right & left hand quick stick passes (stand about 5 yards away)
- 25 right & left hand twisters
- 25 right & left hand cross body
- 50 right to left & left to right splits
- 25 right & left shovel passes
- 25 strong hand behind the back passes
- Repeat and/or get creative, switching up passes and adding new ones to your repertoire
Shooting: Going out to the field and shooting is a favorite of pretty much any lacrosse player. Some people like going out to just shoot, when I wanted to work on something however, I liked doing sets of shots that I would see in games. Just going out to shoot can produce more creativity, doing sets of shots helps with consistency. Below are the types of shots I worked on most times I went to shoot. If you have a friend, alternate passing to each other and work on a quick release.
- Form shooting: This was my favorite thing to do. Stand about 5 yards away from the goal and really focus on your form and your release, aiming for the middle of the net and shooting hard. Eventually, you can start picking corners once you’re comfortable. Do this until you’re comfortable with your release and then do a few more. This is partially how I was able to shoot over 100 mph, working on releasing my energy from the ground to my abs to my stick. I was strong but by no means the strongest, but was able to shoot the fastest on my team. Other things contribute to my shot speed (leg and ab strength to be specific), but this helped me really focus on what I was doing and getting proper form to shoot that fast.
- Step down shooting: during this drill I would focus more on placing my shots. Stand 8 to 12 yards away from the goal and try to place them in the lower and upper corners, but not too far in the corner. Yes, those shots look cool, but as I have experienced, when I aim for the perfect corner shot in a game it tends to miss the goal because of outside forces and you will have less touches in a game than you do shots on game day. So focus on hitting the goal.
- On the run shooting: Focus on your form and how you're shooting on the run. Again, work on placing these. Typically, I started with a dodge. Above the net, start about 20 to 30 yards and run down an alley, behind the net, start about 5 yards away from the endline and do whatever dodge you’d like.
- In-close finishing: The best place to finish is as close as you can get to the goal. I like to act like I’m getting a pass running down the crease, and faking and finishing to score. This doesn't need to be a big fake, but just enough to get the goalie moving or freeze him. I am a big fan of the leaner which is when you dip your head and shoulders to get the goalie thinking low, then you bury it high.
Sides: This drill has two teams on either side of the field split into 4v3 or 5v4. No one can cross the midfield, so to clear, the defense has to move the ball to the offensive players on the other side without crossing. Each side is even with a goalie, so the goalie can come out and make it harder for the offense to get the ball but potentially give up a goal, or they can stay in and concede possession. This drill enhances players' decision-making skills and teamwork in fast-paced situations.
Defensive Footwork and Checking: Every player on the field needs to know basic defensive positioning. The best riding attackmen don’t fling their sticks to try to get the ball loose all the time but stay in front and play good defense. This drill focuses on developing defensive footwork. Set up cones in a zigzag pattern or use the field lines as your guide. Start at one end and shuffle or backpedal from cone to cone or line to line while zigzagging. This will help you develop proper shuffling form while increasing endurance as well.
Small-Sided Scrimmages: Small-sided scrimmages provide an opportunity for players to apply their skills in game-like situations. Divide players into small teams, such as 3v3 or 4v4, and allocate a designated playing area. Often, players should only be able to use short sticks but that is up to the discretion of the coach. Encourage players to use their stick skills, communication, and teamwork to create scoring opportunities and defend against opponents. Emphasize game concepts, such as spacing, passing, and defensive positioning. Provide feedback and guidance to players as they develop their skills through gameplay.
Training drills are essential for all levels of lacrosse players to develop and improve their skills. Incorporating a combination of drills that focus on stick skills, ground balls, shooting, decision-making, defensive techniques, and small-sided gameplay will help players build a solid foundation and enhance their overall performance on the field. Regular practice, dedication, and a willingness to learn are key to becoming a skilled and confident lacrosse player.