To be effective on offense in lacrosse, it is crucial that players are able to shoot the ball into the net. Sounds simple, right? Far too often, we see coaches falling into the same traps when teaching their players how to shoot. The list below provides 5 easy ways to improve your shooting drills and ensure that your team is able to consistently put the ball in the back of the net. We also provide an example of one of our favorite shooting drills that uses all of these features: 5 on a Die Shooting.
1. BALLS, BALLS, BALLS: The less time players have to spend searching for balls or going into the net to retrieve them, the more time they can spend practicing! Value ball-hunts and be sure to have plenty of balls when setting up any shooting drills.
2. Don't Use Goalies: There will certainly be times to plant your goalies between the pipes during practice, but keeping the nets empty during shooting drills has several advantages. First, you keep your goalies healthy as they don't see an endless barrage of rubber. Second, players are able to get more reps as multiple shooters can go at once and players don't have to wait for goalies to get ready. Finally, it is easier for players to practice shooting on different parts of the goal when the goalies are not there to distract or bait them.
3. Incorporate Multiple Skills: Standing at 10 yards out and taking 100 of the same shot over and over may be good for man-up specialists, but well-rounded players need to work on the skills that will transfer during the game. Incorporating dodges and passes into your shooting drills will create a more realistic and wholistic approach. It also allows both middies and attackmen to benefit from the same drills.
4. Reps on Reps: We mentioned it in key 1 and 2, but it is crucial that players are able to get plenty of repetitions from each spot, in each drill. While we want to incorporate multiple skills, we also want to make sure the time between each rep is limited and the drills are tailored appropriately so drills don't die with missed passes or dropped balls.
5. COMPETE: Make it competitive - whether it is trying to hit the crossbar, scoring 5 in the same corner, or using a timer to create urgency, turning the drill into a game will make it more fun and force players to push themselves.
"5 on a Die Shooting" captures all of the key elements above and combines them into a drill that is great for offensive players of any age. It incorporates dodging and shooting with two players going at the same time. Good luck and keep shooting!