Tag Archives: drill

Keep Moving

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Keep Moving

I learned an important lesson about movement off the lacrosse field. I was sixteen and taking Muay Thai kickboxing lessons at a local martial arts academy. My instructor set up the class in a mob drill. The mob drill teaches students how to get away from more than one attacker.

When I first got into the mob drill I got pummeled. I thought defensively and stayed in one place. This allowed all of the attackers to mass around me, and while they were not punching with full power I realized that if they were I would be in a world of hurt. A few months later it was mob drill time, but before the drill my instructor pulled me aside and told me with very little explanation to go crazy. He wanted me to attack the attackers, find open space and then reengage.

So I was set in the middle of six of my fellow students and when my instructor said go I went a little overboard.

I yelled at the top of my lungs and rushed the person closest to me. I threw a few punches and ran to a corner of the gym. All of my attackers were a little stunned at my brash attack. They tentatively approached me so I yelled out again and ran to the perimeter of the group, punched my way around them and ran to the other side of the gym. This went on for about three minutes and while I took a few punches it was much fewer than when I just stood still.

I learned that when facing multiple attackers it pays to be on the move. Standing still is a death sentence.

I see way too many youth and high school players who stop moving when they shouldn’t. Players who pick up a ground ball and then stop. Players who run into a double team and try to split dodge back where they came only to run into the other defender. Players who can’t catch the ball cleanly because they will not move their feet away from their defender.

The lacrosse field is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide. There is open space available, but many players would rather run through the gauntlet of defenders than pass the ball around them.

I blame isolation dodges for this problem. Coaches, especially at the youth level, love giving their biggest or fastest kid the ball and having him run at the cage for a high-percentage shot. The problem is that many of these coaches do not coach isolation dodges correctly. They start them off of a dead-ball restart or have the iso player run way up to the midfield line. Both of those methods allow defenses to settle in.

The correct way to run an isolation dodge is to do it off of ball movement. When a ball is passed the defenders have to move to follow the ball. Isolation dodges are much more effective off a couple of passes especially when the iso player catches the ball on the run. Add in having the rest of the players clear out of the way, which drastically reduces the gauntlet of defenders that the iso player might run into.

Too many coaches at the youth level are content to let their best player handle the ball. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Get the ball to Timmy! To Timmy! Get it to Timmy!” It appears to be the coach’s only game plan. There are five other players on offense that need to be included if any team is going to be successful. If everyone is running around and cutting, even the least-skilled player is having a positive impact on your offense.

Featured Image Credit – www.onebigphoto.com

Cheers,
Gordon

Marco. Polo!

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Ah, the delightfully fun game of Marco-Polo. For those unfamiliar with this favorite game go to your local pool before it closes for the summer. If enough kids are around a game of Marco-Polo will eventually get started in the shallow end.

Doesn't Look Like a Swimmer to me

Doesn't Look Like a Swimmer to me

How Marco-Polo went from renowned explorer of Asia to namesake of a children’s pool game, I will never know. Regardless of how the game got its name, I want to focus on what Marco-Polo removes: sight.

Lacrosse is a game that requires vision. I am currently unable to catch a ball consistently with my eyes closed, and I bet many players get the same result when they try. On another note, if you do try to catch a ball with your eyes closed. Please wear a helmet.

Because vision is so important in lacrosse, the other senses get neglected. Smell, and tasting don’t really come into play. Unless one player never washes his pads. Then I can smell them coming from behind the cage. The sense of touch is one I will talk about later, but this post is focused on… You guessed it: hearing.

Many young players go into a game not realizing how often they use their sense of hearing. They call out to one another and respond when called. The players start and stop when they hear the whistle, and they know it is time to substitute when the horn sounds. Hearing is a major part of lacrosse but I want players to know that they can use their sense of hearing to improve their game by becoming active listeners.

Parents, ever tell your kids “you are hearing me but you are not listening to me?” Kids are masters at hearing everything, which is why we are so cognizant about what we say around little children. Less they endlessly repeat a naughty word. Trouble is, kids are not always the best listeners.

I know when a kid is listening to me when I’m coaching. Their eyes are locked onto my mouth, their body is still, and their lean forward just a little bit. Contrast that kid with the kid that is looking all over the place, fidgeting, and leaning backwards. The active listener will pick up lessons quicker, build skills faster, and leave the kid that just hears the coach in the dust at practice.

Livestrong.com describes a way to improve listening skills through active listening practice:

Centering your attention on your sense of hearing is a natural method to train your ears to pick up on subtler sounds. You can do this activity with a variety of different mediums, such as the radio or television. You can also do this with a piece of music or in an environment with rich ambient sounds.

Make sure that the volume or background noise isn’t too loud so that you’ll have to make your ears go to the sound. Try closing your eyes and listening deeply to the music, television or environment, making a mental note of all the different sounds you hear. Listen for the subtle sounds in the background and see if you can distinguish where they are originating. You may find that music with lots of interaction, layers and harmony, like jazz or classical, is well-suited for this activity.

Try this type of listening for 20 minutes to 1/2 hour each day. As you become more accustomed to using your hearing actively, you may notice that your passive hearing naturally improves, too.

I came up with a drill to improve the listening skills of my players. This drill helps defenders hear an offensive player come at them from behind, but it can also help offensive players listen to a defenseman trying to double them from behind as well.

Blind Man’s Alley Drill

  • Two players go into the area between the restraining line and the sideline.
  • One player stands near the goal line extended with their back turned to the other player.
  • The player without his back turned stands about fifteen to twenty yards away from the “blind” player, up near the restraining line.
  • At the “Go” signal the player on the restraining line runs to the right or the left of the “blind” player.
  • Using only his sense of hearing, the “blind” player must listen for the footsteps of the player running at him.
  • As soon as the “blind” player can tell which direction the running player is going, he turns in that direction and plays defense.
  • Players switch positions, and repeat the drill with progressively softer footsteps.

Give this drill a shot during a couple of practices. Your kids will not be great at it at first, but eventually they will get accustomed to closing their eyes and listening for quiet footfalls. Before they know it they will be actively listening for the footsteps of their opponent.

Featured Image Credit – www.seanmisen.com

Cheers,
Gordon

Quick Feet Cone Drills

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I love cone drills. They can be as simple or as complicated as your imagination. Make a triangle, square, circle, semi-circle, or a bunch of zig-zags and you have a ready-to-go speed and agility drill.

Some of the drills in the video are ones I have done for many years. The others are from xlathlete.com’s — Cone Drills.

If you want to build quick feet, acceleration, and fast changes of direction you need to implement cone drills in your conditioning program. Lacrosse requires long-distance endurance, but playing offense and defense require more than endurance. They require being able to turn on a dime, sprint eight yards, catch the ball, turn around, and rip a shot. Practice the cone drills below and the cone drill PDF above, and you will see your speed and change-of-direction improve each month.

Remember to check out the Warm-Up and Agility Ladder Drill posts for a complete workout. Start with a warm-up, use the agility ladder, and wrap up with four to five cone drills repeated at least three times each. Follow that up with some easy stretching to cool your body down and you’ve done a quick conditioning workout that will pay off big time during the season.

Cheers,
Gordon