Offseason Skills - Indoor Training
With snow on the ground in many parts of the country and indoor space not readily available for many programs, it becomes difficult to keep up with skill development. Many programs don’t do much in the winter unless they have a box lacrosse program that allows them to get inside and keep the sticks from gathering dust. There are a few options that coaches should look into to make sure that their players are continuing to improve going into the spring season.
Finding Space to Train:
Elementary, middle and high school gyms - These are great options that allow you to work on stick skills with your team. Generally you are not allowed to use lacrosse balls in these spaces, but you are allowed to use tennis balls. Using Tennis balls is a great idea in the Winter because it is much harder to throw and catch these balls as they bounce more and are much lighter. It is also great because you won’t shell your goalie all winter long with hard rubber in a tight space.
Indoor turf at a performance center - There are many different facilities that have patches of turf that allow lacrosse to come in for skills. These are great for small group training of 5-10 players at a time. Even though the space is extremely small, you can work on touch passing, footwork, approaches, dodging, and inside finishing.
Turf or sport court rinks - There are many roller hockey and indoor soccer facilities that have walls. Sometimes these are also used for box lacrosse programs and their training. IT can be tough to find space at these facilities as soccer and hockey take priority at most of these facilities, but if you can build a relationship with the facility manager and get an hour or two these are some of the best places to run practices in the Winter.
Plowed parking lot - This option is not for the faint of heart. It is cold out and there could be ice on the pavement but you have to do everything you can to help your team get better. Many programs in the Northeast are forced to use the parking lot in March and April for skills sessions. You may not want to go full pads and run a full-contact practice, but getting the players out there moving their feet and tossing the ball around is worth it for an hour at a time.
Winter Skill Drills:
2-ball Partner Passing - Set up two players about 10-15 yards apart. Give each one a ball and a few extra at their feet to replace dropped passes. Have them play catch simultaneously with their balls. This forces players to throw and catch without thinking because they have no time between theri throw and catch to think. Drill different variations for 1 minute at a time.
Stick up-field passing - Set two lines 10-15 yards apart and have both lines move upfield with stick to the outside throwing the ball across their body to each other while moving up-field. There are many variations that you can throw at your team and you can make these fun with Behind the back passing, shovel passing, backpedal cross body throwing and catching, bounce passes, and cross-handed passes.
4-man passing - Create lines of 4 players on a line. Have the first player in line run out 5-10 yards, create variations of different moves and have them throw the ball back to the next person in line.
X-men Passing - Create two line drills that intersect. This forces players to be aware of the line that intersects their lines and creates an opportunity to gain field sense. You can create variations of skills in this drill as well.
Inside finishing - put two piles of balls on either side of the goal on GLE with lines at each pile. Each line will throw a pass across the crease to a teammate that will finish the ball in the goal. Start very close in with a fake or two then move the shooters cut higher after each ball hunt. I like to vary this drill at 0,5,10 yards.
Any space you can find is going to be great and you can get creative with what space is available in your community. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters at Winter training is that it is fun and the players have their sticks in their hands.
Find some space, get your players moving, and MAKE IT FUN!