Just as with any other sport or skill, you can always work hard and keep getting better. The tips and drills in this section are for players looking to take their game to that next level.
The main skill that attackmen must work on is dodging. Dodges can be worked into line drills with a dummy defenseman in the middle of the drill. Dodges can also be used in shooting drills in which the offensive player can dodge a cone and then take a shot on the run. The first dodge that attackmen should work on is the split dodge. They can work on this drill from X (directly behind the goal) and from the wing. From either spot, they can use a same-handed split dodge or a change-handed split dodge.
The three dodges that attackmen must work on at the “five and five” spot on the field are the inside roll, and the rocker step and the question mark dodge. Set up a cone at the five and five spot on each side of the field and have the attackmen start from X. The attackman makes a split dodge at X, goes to either cone, and makes an inside roll, or rocker step or question mark for a quick shot.
The final dodge that attackmen need to work on is the face dodge off of a feed. A defenseman starts on top of the crease as a coach feeds balls to the attackmen who are about seven to ten yards above the goal at any point on the field. The defenseman slides to the attackman when the coach throws the ball. The attackman catches the feed from the coach behind himself, steps up as though he is going to shoot, brings his stick across his face, makes a face dodge past the defenseman, and takes a quick shot. After the attackmen learn these dodges in these drills, then they can go on to work them in one-on-ones against defensemen.
The single dodge that midfielders at this level must work on is the split dodge. Midfielders should learn this dodge from the wing and from up top. This dodge can first be worked on in line drills with a dummy defenseman in the middle. Then, coaches can set up cones on the wings and up top for the middies to dodge off of and take a quick shot on the run. Finally, the dodge can be practiced in one-on-one situations against defensemen. The most important skill for midfielders is shooting from the outside, both on the run and with time and room.
Shooting drills can be set up a number of different ways. The easiest way is to have two lines of attackmen at goal line extended on both sides of the goal. There are two lines of midfielders up top on each side as well. The attackmen can either throw skip passes to the opposite line of middies or same-side feeds to the line of midfielders adjacent to their line. For on the run shooting, the middies catch the ball, make a split dodge, and shoot as they are running down the allies or across the middle of the field. For time and room shooting, the midfielders catch the ball behind them and take a quick, hard shot from the outside. Finally, the last skill that both attackmen and midfielders need to work on is the two-man game. This skill can be worked on with two-on-two’s from top and from behind the goal. Picks and flips can also be drilled with no defense in shooting drills.
Most of the position specific drills that the defense needs to work on will be taken care of in line drills, agilities (as discussed earlier), and one-on-ones and two-on-twos. One thing that is great to do with defensemen in one-on-ones and two-on-twos is to take their stick away from them and make them play defense using their hands. They are not allowed to tackle or grab the offensive player. This is extremely effective in teaching defensemen to play defense using good footwork and body positioning.
The drill that is most important for team defense is having them play against a skeleton offense. The coach simply sets the offense up in different formations and has them work the ball around. At first, the offense works the ball very slowly and the coach takes each defenseman through where he needs to be. Remember, if the defenseman is covering the ball, he needs to be right on his man and calling out “ball”. If the defenseman is adjacent to the ball carrier, he should be about four or five yards away from his man calling out “left” or “right” depending what side of the ball carrier he is on. If the defenseman is away from the ball, he should be sloughed in towards the crease calling out “away”. If the defenseman is on the crease, he should be right on his man and ready to slide, calling out “crash”. The other thing to watch out for as the coach is to make sure that all the defensemen are looking away from the ball. This drill should be run consistently to pound defensive positioning into the team’s head.
A lot of the position specific drills for goalies must be run before practice starts or as the rest of the team stretches. Goalies need to be warmed-up before they step into the drills where they see shots. It is very important to learn as a coach to give your goalie a good warm-up. A coach should start shooting close to the goal with slow shots. Slowly, the coach should move back and increase the speed of his shots. The coach starts by shooting high shots to both stick side and off-stick side. Then he moves to shooting hip level shots, low shots, and bounce shots before mixing them up at the end.
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