Just like preparing for a game, teams benefit from coaches who develop lacrosse practice plans that engage and inspire their players day-in and day-out.
“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect,” Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi once said.
The 7 Stages of Successful Lacrosse Practice Plans
1. Quick Talk
At the start of practice, good coaches, like New York Lizards’ Joe Spallina, do more than blow a whistle. Coaches frequently set the tone for the day’s practice with a quick talk to their players. Here, coaches can also set goals for the practice as well as alert players about what they should be focusing on.
Stretching is vital to body performance, because players may arrive on the practice field with tight muscles from a day at school or a long car ride.
Start your players off with a little light cardio, such as a traditional team lap around the field.
Then, allow your captains to lead the rest of the squad in stretching exercises, which loosen up the muscles most frequently used in lacrosse.
3. Line Drills
Every lacrosse practice should include time for reinforcing the fundamentals: scooping, passing, catching and shooting. These activities help to warm up your team while sharpening its core skills.
Simple line drills are a great way to get the entire team involved from the outset of practice. These player development drills are an essential part of lacrosse practice plans.
4. Warm Up
Now that your players’ bodies are warmed up, it’s time to build speed and endurance that is necessary to excel at lacrosse. Depending on your team’s age level, there are different drills, such as wind sprints or agility exercises, which are good for developing skills vital to the fastest game on two feet.
“If you want your team to improve, help them to love practice by making it enjoyable,” Army men’s coach Joe Alberici said. “Varied drills and competitive small-sided games help to keep practice moving and it presents teachable moments to reinforce fundamentals. In addition, they are more likely to spend time outside of practice improving their game if you help instill a love for it.”
For athletes and coaches alike, the most enjoyable part of practice is the high-speed, high-contact game simulation.
In their lacrosse practice plans, coaches often include different variations of live drills, such as man-up/man-down, 3-on-3 or even full-field scrimmages. These exercises give players a taste of what to expect when the game whistle blows. Frequent live repetitions serve the dual purpose of developing individual skills and team chemistry.
6. Warm Down
Lacrosse practices that follow a natural rhythm establish a positive pattern for winning games. After working your players hard, it’s time to let them wind down before you send them on their way. Gather tired athletes together for team stretches that will help minimize injury.
The end of practice presents an excellent opportunity for coaches to tie together themes from practice that teach lessons to their players. Coaches may elect to send their athletes home with a strong message of encouragement, which inspires players until next practice.
Coaches who focus on improving their own practices will create more winners on and off the field.