Tag Archives: Fundamentals

Nutritional Practice Plans

Published by:


I’ve participated in dozens of different practice plans run by coaches of different styles. Traveling to many different colleges, high schools, and youth programs each year I’ve developed a good feel for an effective practice plan. At the youth level I can typically determine how good a team is just by watching their pre-game warmups. Those warmups are a byproduct of effective practice plans, which almost always feature new ways to teach fundamental skills.

I believe there are four fundamental skills in lacrosse:

  1. Picking up a ground ball
  2. Running and dodging while cradling
  3. Passing on the run
  4. Catching on the run

You’ll notice that I did not list shooting. That is because I do not consider shooting a fundamental skill.

I see many youth coaches waste time on the same shooting drills practice after practice. While other teams are getting ground ball and passing reps while in motion. Your first practice plan and really the first week should include very little to no shooting drills at the youth level.

Now that I’ve riled up the offensive coaches, consider this: Shooting is important. Good shots taken at the right times lead to goals, which determine who wins and who loses. I’m not writing that shooting is not something to work on, but I consider shooting to be the last thing a team needs to work on because shooting is usually the last thing that happens on a settled possession or transition.

Running shooting drills in your first few practices is the same as eating dessert before the rest of the meal. Ground ball and passing drills are the vegetables and protein necessary for a good diet of lacrosse skills. Successfully completing those drills and demonstrating good skills leads to the reward of taking a shot. In twenty years, I have yet to witness a shot taken that did not occur after a pass, picking up a ground ball, or a dodge.

Players don’t just shoot. They pick up a ground ball off a deflected pass, run down the field in transition, dodge the slide, pass the ball to their teammate who is cutting up from the crease, who catches the ball, turns, and shoots.

Notice the four fundamentals:

  1. Ground ball pickup leads to:
  2. Dodging the incoming defender leading to:
  3. A pass to the cutting offensive player, which leads to:
  4. A catch while moving towards a better shooting position

Shooting requires one of those four and usually all four, but too many youth coaches serve a desert buffet of shooting drills on the first practice. Then their players get bored the next week when they have to slog through ground ball drills after having spent 4 hours running different shooting drills the week before.

If you feel you absolutely must run a shooting drill (you don’t) during your first week then incorporate a fundamental skill into the shooting drill. Have the player pick up a ground ball, run and dodge, then take a shot from a good angle. You need to prepare your young players to be able to do everything necessary leading up to the shot, not just the shot itself.

Another thing I’ve seen from teams running too many shooting drills too early is that their offensive strategy usually involves giving the ball to one player and have them run down the middle of the field for a shot. Sometimes this works, but most of the times it doesn’t, and I hear their coach yelling, “pass the ball! You’re covered!” The kid doesn’t pass the ball because he’s been fed a steady diet of shoot, shoot, shoot.

Compare that to the team practicing moving the ball twice off of every ground ball pickup. They don’t practice shooting as much, but their ball movement out of a loose ball scrum is fantastic. That leads to two or three passes to a player parked on the top of the crease for a layup shot that most players can make. That is a team that follows a proper lacrosse nutrition plan full of ground ball drills, passing, and running with the ball.

The Lacrosse Skills Nutritional Pyramid


Remember – Prek-K, U9, U11, U13 spring 2014 registrations are open until January 31st. Register now at www.ayllax.com/register and join our family!

Featured Image Credit – www.lakehighlandstoday.com


New Year, Same Mission!

Published by:

New Year, Same Mission

It is a brand new year and AYL is looking forward to another fun and exciting spring season! I want to take a moment and explain the AYL Mission, and the most recent addition to our 4 (now 5) goals each year. As always, if you want more information about Atlanta Youth Lacrosse you can email us at questions@ayllax.com for a timely response.


  • We believe that kids don’t want to come back for another practice, another game, or another season if they aren’t having fun. While we work to maintain a good level of competitiveness between teams at all age-levels, we always come back to – “Is this fun for the kids?” This is why we do watermelon rolls with the young Incredibles, give our STARS plenty of tasty food, and maintain a high level of positive energy with the players, coaches, and parents we interact with.
  • Players typically quit a sport by the time they turn 13 because they aren’t having fun. We don’t want to add to that statistic.


  • We list this second because it has FUN in the name! Fundamentals, the basic skills all players need to be successful as they grow older are a cornerstone of AYL. Our coaches emphasize proper passing and catching, getting low on ground balls, breaking down on defense, and aiming before shooting. We push fundamentals through the whole year because if a player can master a basic skill they’ll have fun in practice and in games. They’ll see their hard work pay off, and will remember how to pick up a ground ball properly for the rest of their lives.
  • We teach our players as young as U9 to try and use their off hand in practice. The sooner they can get comfortable using both hands in a game, the better the overall play.


  • Years ago we ended the traditional All-Star game at the end of the spring season. While we can appreciate young players playing at a high level, we did not think that All-Star teams represented the best of youth lacrosse. So we created the Sportsmanship Game. In this game each team nominates a few players that they believe exhibited the best sportsmanship over the entire season. It could be the most experienced player on the team, or the player in his first year, and that is why we hold the game. Any player can show good sportsmanship, and we want our players to practice both their lacrosse skills and demonstrate good sportsmanship.
  • Lacrosse skills will serve the player on the field, but practicing good sportsmanship at a young age prepares the player for many challenging life events off of it.

Honoring The Game

  • Lacrosse has a history that goes back so far that when a Native American man was asked by a Canadian settler where lacrosse originated he pointed to the rising sun. It was used to settle tribal disputes, celebrate momentous occasions, and (in more recent history) proved to be an exceptional way for young Canadian men to stay in shape and build moral fiber. Now, lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States and has been for the last couple of years. It is our obligation as a program to hold ourselves and our players, coaches, and parents to the high standard that the history of this game demands.
  • We want our young players to grow into good young men and since they spend a great deal of their time at our fields and interacting with our staff we owe it to them to demonstrate the right way to go about things.

Educating Everyone

  • This is the new mission for AYL! I’ve spent almost three years writing blog posts and I’ve written almost 300 of them. I’ve been fortunate to have them picked up by both LaxAllStars and US Lacrosse. With this large amount of useful lacrosse knowledge on our site we decided to add “Educating Everyone” to our mission because we feel that the more players, parents, and coaches know about the game, the more fun everyone can have. We added the “Education” tab to our main menu, which organizes the posts into Player, Coach, Parent, and Zebra categories so anyone who wants to learn something can find it quickly.
  • It is a lot of fun to watch a young player have that light-bulb moment when they learn a new skill or understand a challenging idea. Youth players may be where we do the bulk of our education, but we want the adults in our program to have “Ah-Ha!” moments too.

We look forward to seeing many familiar faces and many new ones for the 2014 spring AYL season!

Featured Image Credit – http://1.bp.blogspot.com


September Beginner Clinics

Published by:

Due to popular demand and recently acquired field space, Atlanta Youth Lacrosse is excited to announce our September Beginner Clinics for boys grades 3rd-6th. These clinics are open to beginner players, i.e. players of one year experience or less, and are held at Hammond Park in Sandy Springs.

The September Beginner Clinics will focus on building basic skills that each player needs to be successful at lacrosse. We will teach: cradling, ground balls, catching, passing, dodging, and shooting. These skills will build on one another each clinic and each week. The goal is to make each player who shows up feel confident in the fundamental skills of lacrosse.

The SBCs are free-of-charge and will be taught to any beginner player that wants to show up at the appointed times below. We recommend players show up 10-15 minutes early for introductions and to get their gear on. Any questions about the SBCs may be sent to info@ayllax.com.

NOTE – These clinics are only open to 3rd-6th graders. We have limited weekly field space, and players under third grade will learn a basic skill during group warm-ups each weekend.

Clinics will run on the following Tuesdays and Thursdays:

  • 9/13 and 9/15
  • 9/20 and 9/22
  • 9/27 and 9/29

The times and groups are as follows:

  • 3rd & 4th grade: 4:30-5:25pm
  • 5th & 6th grade: 5:30-6:25pm

Players will need to bring:

  • All gear required for a game (equipment page)
  • Personal water bottle (we will have a cooler at the field just in case)
  • Enthusiasm (nothing beats a player who is willing to learn)

Once the September Beginner Clinics conclude on the 29th, Atlanta Youth Lacrosse will offer position-specific clinics in October. Information on those clinics including price and how to register will come out in later posts and newsletter communications. Again, all questions may be sent to info@ayllax.com.