Winter Lacrosse Training
Most parents, players, youth & middle school coaches, and high school coaches do not have the time to invest in lacrosse like a college coach does. So my hope for these blog posts moving forward is to simplify the game for everyone and to funnel information into manageable posts. As a college coach that has a passion for all things skill development, team development, strength & speed, leadership, team culture, and recruiting, my hope is to take the amount of information I consume on a monthly basis and then narrow it down to what is most important to help your team, players, or son get better.
What is important as Fall Ball ends and Winter Training begins?
At this point, everyone’s children will be in vastly different points of their lacrosse development. Some have played for years and others have just completed their first fall and are heading into their first spring season. If they have access to a group of similar aged players, they should be playing as much as possible! Not just structured games and structured practices where they are dodging cones and doing drills, but having the stick in their hand and playing pickup with 3-6 other kids is going to go a long way. If you can create an environment where your backyard is the spot that kids come to play lacrosse it is going to help your child get better. They can play with a tennis ball and no pads. Games of 2v2 with a goalie all the way up to 5v5 with a goalie are great for development. I would also suggest buying them a box lacrosse goal for the backyard prior to purchasing a full size goal. If they have access to both, even better. Signing them up for a local club team will have its benefits, but so will backyard and pickup. Allow them to figure things out on their own while they get small fundamental adjustments as they go.
If you are looking for ways to get your child better on their own you do not have to break the bank in order to do this. Although putting them in situations where they have to learn spacing, balance, and reading out plays is better, the beautiful thing about the sport is that having a stick, a ball, and a wall (or something similar to a wall) can go a long way. If your house has a brick wall that is tall and does not have nearby windows then you are golden. Maybe tape a few squares on the wall for your son to aim at. If not, there are some good options out there for rebounders and you can also make one pretty easily.
Photo: Lyle Thompson
You can see in the background of this photo he has a 4×4 piece of plywood at an angle with a hole in the middle just big enough to fit a ball through. Lyle Thompson is arguably one of the best to ever play at the college level and has had a successful professional career as well.
Then, there is the physical aspect of the winter training portion.
Best option: Have them play another sport! Basketball, Hockey, Indoor track, Wrestling, and/or Skiing.
Next best option: Have them do things that make them more athletic. Explosive movements like sprinting (outside preferably) with a full recovery, jumping (they sell pretty cheap 3 sided box jumps on Amazon), pressing and pulling. At this point and time, long distance conditioning does not really serve a point.
What bad habits can you NOT let form at this age?
Three hardest habits to break that I have seen are:
- Stepping with the wrong foot when throwing (equivalent to stepping with the same foot when throwing a baseball or football)
- Improper hand placement when catching and throwing, which makes it harder to develop their hand eye coordination
- Unequal pushing with their top hand/shoulder because they are not strong enough to just use arms and wrists when passing
So how can you easily avoid this as a parent without any prior lacrosse knowledge?
The first one is pretty self explanatory, but make sure they step when they throw. Whether that is with you or against the wall. If they are throwing right handed, they need to step with their left foot. If they are throwing left handed, they need to step with their right foot.
For hand placement, they generally should always have their hand at the bottom of the stick (anytime they have two hands on the stick). A lot of smaller players want to choke up on the stick but this becomes a very hard habit to break down the line when they grow.
Their top hand should be all the way at the top of the stick every time they catch. And then it should slide down towards the middle when they pass. A lot of times players have the tendency to not want to slide the top hand up and down each rep which ends with them chasing a lot of missed passes.
For the last one, if you notice your child is really catapulting the ball or pushing abnormally with the top hand then switch to a lighter ball. Use a tennis ball or something similar.
Last thing that can create bad habits if your son plays defense is giving him a 6’0 pole. In my opinion, if your son is younger than an 8th grader, a long pole will only create laziness and bad habits. Probably a separate post there. But the stick should never be taller than him.
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