Practice Planning: Making Lacrosse Fun
At Trilogy Lacrosse, we often joke about the different coaching styles of our National Directors. For a long time, we drew comparisons to the three bears from the Goldilocks nursery rhyme as Mitch Belisle, Ryan Boyle, and Matt Striebel were Trilogy’s primary, but very unique, personalities on the field. We have been lucky enough to add more characters to our story as Trilogy has grown and each has brought their own valuable lessons, drill and tips. The notes below are from Brian Farrell, currently the head coach at his top-ranked alma mater, Boys Latin. We hope Brian’s tips help you keep things fun while driving your players to become better players and ultimately, better young men and women.
One of the greatest pieces of advice I received as a coach is that “enthusiasm is contagious.” If one person brings excitement and liveliness to an environment, the rest will feed off that energy. In a lacrosse practice, enthusiasm usually starts with the coaches. If we bring positive energy in the beginning of practice, it will rub off on the players and they will thrive on this passion.
Make the Fundamentals “FUN”
It doesn’t matter if you are a soft stick little league team or the defending Division 1 national champions, the fundamentals of lacrosse are vital to your team’s success. Stickwork, shooting, groundballs and defensive footwork are some common fundamentals we must incorporate into our practice. In order to keep players engaged, it is important to spice things up a little. Putting players on the clock and counting consecutive passes without a drop are just a few of the ways we can make stickwork drills more exciting. High focus plus more reps equals players getting better.
COMPETE, COMPETE, COMPETE!!!
The reason we practice during the week is to prepare for games. So why not bring the competition of those weekend contests to practice? Keep score in full-field drills. Pit the offense against the defense and keep track of who wins. Play for rewards (or punitive measures like running, push-ups, burpies). Making drills into competitions brings out a fight in our players that will prepare them for game-like situations.
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Tools of the Trade
Whistle: If energy is the symphony and the coach the conductor, then the whistle is his wand. The sharp tweet of a whistle provides immediate results and keeps players on task, fired up and moving.
Stop Watch: A watch with a timer and stop watch function allows you to track reps for time, build out mini-competitions and stay on schedule. It is a MUST for exciting practices.
Money Ball: Throw the money ball in every few reps to give players the chance to double or triple their points when they score with it, keeping competitions close and enthusiasm high. A yellow ball or ball with a dollar sign written in sharpie is all it takes to make a ball “money”.