There are two options when running transition drills. The first option is to have no trail checker and make it easier on the offense. The second way is to have a trail checker and make it more realistic for the defense. The first should be used early in the season and coaches can slowly work in a trail checker as the team becomes better with these drills.
These drills are the greatest way to improve a team’s stick handling, their ability to move the ball, take quick shots, and play good defense. Basically, these drills improve all players’ overall skill levels.
NOTE: If you only have access to half a field as a coach, it may be helpful to join another team for full-field play when practicing the transition drills below.
2-on-1 and 3-on-2
2-on-1 and 3-on-2 without a trail checker can be run the same way. First, the field should be shortened by bringing each goal up to the restraining lines. For 2-on-1, there should be a line on each side of the goal line extended on both sides of the field. One player steps out on one side of the field to play defense. On the other side of the field, the two players from each line break out and get a pass from the goalie. The two offensive players bring the ball up against the one defenseman on the other side. The offensive player who takes a shot or touches the ball last is out and returning to his line. The other offensive player runs back to his goal and plays defense as the next two offensive players break out from the other side and a new two-on-one comes back the other way. Three-on-twos are run the same way except there are three lines at each goal instead of two. These drills are meant to be up and down with fast action. If the ball is on the ground for too long, the coach should blow the whistle and a new ball should be put in play going the other way.
Four-on-threes with no trail checker are run a little differently. The goals can be kept in the crease or put on the restraining lines, depending on how adept the team is at getting the ball up and down the field. Start with three defensemen, three attackmen on the field, and the midfielders at the midline. The defense is set up in their triangle and the attack is set up in their L-formation. As they get better, they can start up at the restraining line and run into their positions as the ball comes down the field. At the midfield line, there is a line of midfielders. If you have a full field, the goalie throws the ball to a defenseman who breaks out and throws the ball up to one of the midfield lines. Otherwise, start the ball at the midfield line. The midfielder then brings the ball downfield and the four-on-three fast break is run. Once there is a shot or the ball is thrown away, then the other goalie gets a ball out of the goal and starts a new fast break.
Like the other transition drills, this is meant to be fast-paced and the ball should be getting up and down the field quickly. If the offense is taking too long with the ball or it is stuck on the ground, then the coach must blow the whistle and get it going the other way.
Half Field Drills
Most half-field drills come from playing six-on-six. At the intermediate level pick one or two things to focus on offensively and defensively. If you start harping on every little mistake that players are making, they can become confused. The main individual skills for the offense to learn are to dodge hard to the goal, draw a slide, and move the ball.
The team’s offensive skills to concentrate on are:
- to stay spread
- be in a good position to score (depending on the formation that they are in)
- and to be unselfish.
The individual defensive skills that should be focused on are:
- defending the topside
- not watching the ball or “looking away”
- and playing good one-on-one defense with their feet.
The team’s defensive skills that should be reinforced are:
- good communication
- staying tight
- and helping each other with slides.
All of these skills take a great deal of time to learn and that is why six-on-six is a great teaching method for pretty much all levels of play. It is good to either play until the offense scores a goal or the defense clears the ball. Also, it is good for the coaches to blow the whistle and have everyone freeze to explain what is going on and where they are making mistakes.
6-on-6 to 6-on-5 to 6-on-6
Another drill that can help intermediate-level players tremendously in the half-field game is six-on-six to six-on-five to six-on-six. In this drill, the coach assigns each defensive player a number one through six. Play starts as normal six on six. Then after a little while, the coach blows a quick double whistle and calls out one of the numbers. The defensive player who is that number has to run to the midfield line and then return back to the play. This leaves the half-field situation as a six-on-five for about twenty seconds.
The offensive skills the coaches should concentrate on in six-on-five situations should be to stay spread, draw a man, and move the ball quickly for an open shot. The defensive skills that should be worked on are to stay tight, slide hard when an open man gets the ball, communicate, look away from the ball, and make sure the “away” defensemen are sloughed in towards the crease. This is a great drill for intermediate-level players for a number of reasons. Offensively, it gives them a chance to create slides more easily and gives them opportunities to find open men. Defensively, it makes the players react quickly and slide and stay tight, which are two keys to great team defense. If there was a single lacrosse drill that a coach could run to help his team in the half-field, this would be it.
Full Field Drills – Riding & Clearing
The two full-field drills worth practicing are riding and clearing. First, when practicing clearing put three defenders and three midfielders out on the field. Place attackmen at the other end if you have access to a full field. The coach starts with the ball and the defense starts in a common offensive formation. The ball is thrown to the goalie and the defense breaks out to their positions and moves the ball upfield and down to the attack on the other end. Perform the same drill with a group of offenses on the field and you can practice riding as well.