Intermediate level players should continue to work on the stick work drills that they learned as beginners. There is really no limit to how good a lacrosse player can become with his stick. Even the best players in the world work on their sticks everyday for better ball handling, passing, catching, and shooting.
The following are supplemental stick work drills to build from the beginner level.
At the beginner level, players learn to throw one-handed with their top hand in the middle of the shaft. Players should continue to work on this as it builds forearm muscles and develops perfect throwing motion. Players can begin to mix up their wall drills by turning their hips in different directions. Typically a right-handed player should focus on passing with his hips turned to the right with his feet making a line towards the target. However, they can also begin to throw with their hips in different directions to mimic other passing situations. It is crucial that intermediate players practice equal repetitions with both hands!
Intermediate players can also start to throw one-handed with the hand that goes on the bottom of their stick. So, if a player is working on his right hand passing motion, then he can take off his top hand (his right hand in this instance) and throw with just his bottom hand (left hand) on the butt end of his stick. This gives the player some extra power and torque on his shot. Furthermore, it makes the player more adept with his stick which is the point of any stick work drill. The player should try to throw and catch 100 passes in a row against the wall with one-hand on his stick, both on the middle of his shaft and on the butt end and from multiple stances throughout. If an intermediate player can get to this point with his stick, he is going to be a great player at this level and have a bright future in the game.
Players should also start to throw three-quarter, sidearm, and underhand with a teammate or against the wall or with a partner. As they start to become decent with these different throws, they can start to work them into triangle passing, line drills and diamond drills. Another thing that these players should do while they are having a catch with one another is to learn to catch bad passes. The player passing the ball should purposefully throw the ball on the opposite side of the receiver’s stick or down by his feet. At first, the two players can throw the ball softly and then start to increase the speed of the throw.
Players at this level also have to learn how to catch the ball under pressure and get open. The first cut that lacrosse players should learn is the V-cut. When doing a V-cut, the player takes a few hard steps towards the middle of the field or towards the goal and then pops out. The V-cut is run so that the player can get separation from the man covering him and get open for a pass from his teammate. “Pressure passing” is a great drill to run to work on this concept.
First, you can run the drill with no defensemen pressuring. The goalie starts off with the ball in the crease. For the sake of this explanation, the drill will be run up the right side of the field, but if there are enough players, the drill can be run up both sides at the same time. There is a line of defensemen right next to the crease, a line of midfielders on the restraining line, a line of midfielders on the midfield line, and a line of attackmen on the opposite restraining line.
The first defenseman breaks out to the side of the goal staying even with goal line extended. The goalie throws the defenseman the ball. Once the defenseman catches the ball, the first midfielder on the restraining line takes a few hard steps to the middle of the field and then pops out with his stick in his left hand to receive a pass. When he catches the pass, he turns to the outside, switches to his right hand and throws to the next midfielder on the midfield line. That midfielder does the same V-cut and catches and throws with the same hands as the first midfielder. (If you only have access to half of a field have the middies work the ball across the midline and pass to an attackman on the opposite side of the field.) The attackman on the restraining line does the same and then goes to the goal for a one-on-one with the goalie. After players are able to do this sufficiently, you add defensemen in each line to cover the cutter and put some pressure on the offensive player. This is a great drill to work on catching and passing under pressure and is also a good introduction to clearing (getting the ball from the goalie or defensemen to past the midfield line) the ball.
There are a couple other techniques that intermediate players must learn when catching the ball. The first is catching the ball over the shoulder. First, players should work on this skill standing still with a partner. The player catching the ball turns his back to the player passing the ball. If the receiver is catching the ball with his right hand then his stick head should be over his right shoulder facing the player passing the ball. The passing player should try to throw the ball softly at first and loft the ball over the receiver’s right shoulder. Turning his head to the right, the receiving player should try to look the ball into his stick. The receiving player pretends the ball is an egg and gently cradles it into his stick.
Once players can catch over their shoulder standing still, they should work over the shoulder catches into line drills. The player in the front of each line goes to the side of the line. The player behind him catches the ball from the player in the opposite line. As soon as he catches the ball, the player on the side of the line runs across the field with his stick over his shoulder and receives an over the shoulder pass. This is an important skill for players to learn to get the ball up field.
Other catching skills that can be practiced in partner passing are: off-side catching, catching with one hand on your stick when a pass is out of reach, and switching hands when receiving the ball as one might have to do when completing a v-cut. And the last catching skill that intermediate level players should learn is catching behind them when catching a feed for a shot. This can be done while standing still and passing with a partner. Each player catches the ball behind him and throws a quick pass back to his partner. This skill should also become worked into all shooting drills and become a mandatory skill to learn. Any player that learns to use this skill effectively before college is going to be ahead of the game. This is an advanced skill that can be learned at the intermediate level to make offensive players head and shoulders above the competition.
Other skills that should be worked into all drills are box fakes and pump fakes. The players should throw these fakes when doing one-hand or two-hand passing with a partner or against the wall. These fakes should also be used in line drills and shooting drills. The players can throw box fakes and pump fakes in partner passing and line drills since these fakes also simulate passes and use pump fakes in shooting drills as these fakes are the most effective to freeze goalies.
Finally, the last stick work skill that intermediate players should start to work on is one-handed groundballs. Players can work on this in line drills and then start to incorporate it into one-on-one and two-on-one groundballs. Make sure to emphasize which situations are appropriate to use one hand when picking up a ground ball as discussed earlier.
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