Below are three of our favorite lacrosse training drills. They can all be used either indoors or out, for boys or girls. Each drill, in its most basic form, should be able to be executed by an average middle school player. However, elite high school and college players will find these drills challenging and helpful as well.
Rainbow Shooting Drill
Catching and finishing in close is invaluable. This is a great inside shooting drill, which can be done with or without a goalie. It offers a lot of reps in a relatively short time and can be made progressively more difficult with each shot fake you ask the players to use before they shoot.
It begins with a line of 5–6 players about 12 yards to each side of the goal. Each line should have plenty of balls. The first player in one of the lines should cut on an arc from the GLE about 2–3 yards off of the crease. The first player in the other line should feed the cutter the ball so they receive the pass a yard before the first goal post. I usually start my players with a high cradle and a shot to far low corner of the goals. After making the feed, the feeder makes a cut and receives a feed from the next player in the first line, executing the same fake and shot. This continues until each line is out of balls.
The best part of this drill is it allows players to practice lots of different fakes and shots while they are on the move. Other shots and fakes besides the old reliable fake high, shoot low are:
No cradle low
No cradle high
Dip and Dunk
Near side, far side
Far side, near side
Far side, near side, far side
Behind the head
Around the world
Make up your own
I mentioned that this can be done with or without a goalie. If you put a goalie in, they better have a lot of self-confidence, because they will be giving up a lot of goals. With intermediate players, I would recommend doing it with an open goal. Advanced players should go against a goalie or a shooting aid, like Hector the Rejector.
3 Man PAPA Drill
PAPA stands for ”Pass Away, Pick Away.” I have never been a fan of picking the ball because I feel it just brings another defender to the ball. However, I really like this drill because the pick happens away from the ball.
Begin the drill with three lines of players about 12–15 yards away from each other. This should form an equilateral triangle. If you don’t know what an equilateral triangle is supposed to look like, ask your players. Maybe one of them is taking geometry! Next, place a goal 12–15 yards away from 2 of the lines.
Put a bunch of balls in the line diagonally across from the goal. Ask the player with the ball to throw it to the first player in one of the other lines and then go set a pick for the player in the line that did not get the pass. The player who received the pass should then split dodge away from the player he received the pass from and the roll back to feed the third man cutting off the pick. The split roll allows the picker and cutter to time out their cut, while getting the feeder’s hands free. After receiving the feed, the cutter should immediately look to shoot.
As I mentioned before, I really like this drill because it practices so many offensive skills:
It can also be done to either side. Coaches can do this everyday with emphasis placed on a different aspect of the drill each day. I find running PAPA cuts very effective against defenses (like mine) that do a lot of ball watching.
Triangle Passing Drill
This is a simple passing and catching drill that can be gussied up to practice a lot of different skills.
Start with three lines of 3–5 players at least 15 yards apart. This should form another equilateral triangle. The first player in line should pass the ball left-handed to the line on his left and then move to the end of the line he threw to. The player in this line should catch the ball with his right hand and roll away from the middle of the triangle. Changing hands, he should then pass the ball to the player in the third line and run to the end of the line he just passed to. Continue moving the ball around the triangle.
Points of emphasis should be moving to each pass, changing hands with a vertical stick, rolling away from the middle of the triangle, and accurate passing on-the-run.
Adding another ball to the drill will pick up the pace and increase reps. You can also do this drill with a split (hand change) across to the middle of the triangle, or a slice pass (no change of hands). Another option is over the shoulder catches as the receiver is running away from the passer’s line. It helps to put a few balls near each line, so we are not chasing misses all over the place.
Stop the Chasing!
Speaking of chasing misses all over the place …
We recommend Swax Lax lacrosse training balls for a more productive practice. The balls don’t bounce and have minimal roll, so when a ball is missed, they don’t go flying all over the place. You can spend less time chasing balls and more time getting reps in. They’re also the same exact size and weight as a regulation lacrosse ball, so they feel real in the stick and your players will never have to sacrifice proper form.
These drills are three of our favorites which can be used either indoors or outdoors. All of these drills can be tweaked to be more or less challenging depending on your team’s skill level. Have fun and add your own twists!
About the Author
Kevin Meany was a lacrosse goalie at Providence College in the mid 1980s. He currently serves as the Boys Field Director at Sum It Up Lacrosse as well as coaching football and lacrosse at The Morristown-Beard School in Morristown, New Jersey. When he’s not busy running drills and practices, he’s a valued contributor to the Swax Lax team.