PRACTICE 3 (Shooting and Stick Protection)

At this practice, we'll continue to reinforce the fundamentals of stick skills, ground balls and shooting while letting the players get plenty of repetition. In addition, we'll focus on stick protection.

First 5 Minutes (Review)

Bring all of the players and coaches together. Begin the practice by reiterating what was conveyed at the end of the last practice, including the hard work of the players over the first two practices (stick skills, ground balls and shooting). You can continue to explain the fundamentals to the game, including the number of players on the field, different positions, offsides, etc.

Explain the plan for this practice. Address any questions the players may have.

Next 10 Minutes (Warm-up)

The warm-up will be a consistent beginning to each practice session. Divide the players into several lines on the midfield line facing one of the restraining lines. Go through repetitions of the following between the mid line and the restraining line: 50 percent run with high knees, butt kicks (lifting the legs up high in the back), side shuffle, running backwards; then 75 percent run; and 100 percent run.

Then lead the players through a quick stationary stretch. Here's a new example:

Sit in an Indian-sitting position, with legs bent and the soles of the feet touching in front. Gently press the knees toward the ground. This stretches the groin muscles.

During the warm-up, pull the goalies aside and have them work with one or two of the coaches. It is important for the goalies to be properly warmed up and comfortable taking shots before the real action of practice begins. Also, it is a great opportunity for the goalies to get some one-on-one instruction and will help them develop as players.

Next 20 Minutes (Stick Skills)

Bring all of the players into a huddle again. Have the players explain the keys to passing and throwing. Reinforce whatever points the players miss. Then perform the following drills:

Line Drills: Review how the drill works again. As this is the third time the players have done this drill, they should be familiar. Then run the line drills in the following sequence: right hand to right hand, left to left, catch right – throw left, catch left – throw right.

Then introduce ground balls into the line drills. Have the players roll the ball to one another, pick it up, and roll it to the other line (instead of passing). Reinforce the fundamentals of ground balls that were learned in the previous practice. After some repetition, have one line roll the ball and the other line pick it up and pass it. It is important that players get used to picking the ball up off the ground and passing it.

Three-Man, Two-Balls Drill: Divide the players into groups of three and provide each group with two balls. One player stands on the mid line, one player stands on the restraining line and the third player stands in the middle of the other two players. The balls are with the players on the outside lines. The player in the middle will receive a pass from the player at the mid line and then throw a pass back to that player. Then the player in the middle will receive a pass from the player on the restraining line. This will repeat, back and forth, for a number of reps. The player in the middle should be on the move continuously. Feel free to shorten or lengthen the distance between the players if necessary. At one-minute intervals, switch the players and get a different player from each group to be the middle man.

Coaching Point
  • As you are talking to players individually, get down on one knee to be face-to-face with him.

Next 2 Minutes (Water Break)

Keep your players hydrated with a water break. But have them hustle back to the field.

Next 10 Minutes (Ground Balls)

Repeat drills that were introduced during the first practice. They are as follows:

Single line: Line all players up in one line and roll the ball out to the first player in the line. Have the player scoop the ground ball and then make a pass back to you. Repeat this for all the players and get it going at a fast pace.

One v. One (trailer): Keep the players in the same line; however, this time the first and second players in line will be competing for the ball. The player who comes up with the ball makes a pass to the coach to complete the drill.

One v. One (side-by-side): Have two equal lines and the players compete for the ball. The player who comes up with the ball makes a pass to the coach to complete the drill.

Two v. One: Go to three equal lines. The two players on the outside are on the same team against the player in the middle. Explain how the two players should work together as one player should take the man and the other player should go after the ball - the communication is referred to as 'man' and 'ball'. Then, as the player picks up the ball, be sure to explain that the other teammate cannot interfere with the player without the ball. If one of the players from the outside line picks up the ball, he has to make a pass to the other player from the outside line before the ball is passed back to the coach. If the player in the middle line wins the ball, all he needs to do is pass the ball back to the coach to end the drill.

Next 10 Minutes (Shooting Drills)

Review the fundamentals of shooting that were learned in the previous practice. Have the players explain the keys to shooting. Separate the players into two groups and take each group to one end of the field. Then take time to go through the drills from the initial practices. They are as follows:

Catch and Shoot: Players are in two equal lines – one on the right of the net and one on the left about 10 yards above the goal line. Two coaches are the feeders and are located on the goal line on both sides of the net with all of the balls. One player at a time cuts toward the coach, receives a pass and shoots the ball into the net. Then that player goes to the back of the line. The drill is repeated with the other players in line.

Criss-Cross and Shoot: Again, two lines of shooters and two coaches feeding. This time the players cut diagonally and receive a pass from the feeder on the opposite side of the net. The drill is completed with the player shooting. The drill is repeated with the other players in line.

Next 2 Minutes (Water Break)

Keep your players hydrated with a water break. But have them hustle back to the field.

Next 15 Minutes (Stick Protection)

Take some time to demonstrate to the players the keys to protecting the ball on offense and how to play individual defense.

Offensively the keys are as follows: cradling the stick with one hand and two hands, holding the head of the stick close to the player's head and keeping the stick close to the body in general, RUNNING, and infractions such as warding off.

Defensively the keys are as follows: poke checks on the bottom hand, define what constitutes a penalty (slashing, cross-checking, pushing, etc.), good defensive positioning.

After explaining the keys, get the players in single file lines. There should be one line for each coach. Have the players run one at a time with the ball, make a move, and protect their stick from the coach. The coach should play very light defense but work with each player on critiquing the way he is handling his stick. After the player gets by the coach, he circles back and passes the ball to the next player in line and the drill is repeated. Smaller groups and lots of repetitions are keys for this drill and developing stick protection.

Ending Practice

After the players get some water, end practice with a team huddle. Review what was learned and congratulate the players for their hard work. Reinforce the goals identified at the beginning of practice. Also, establish the next practice time with the players and parents, and follow up with an email.

Don't forget to keep ending a practice with a cheer like, '1, 2, 3 (with the team name)!' You will do this before game action, too.