Scoring opportunities don’t come often but when they do you want to capitalize on them. Sadly, many players aren’t prepared because of a number of reasons. Number one among those reasons is that they just don’t shoot enough. In practice coaches need to go over a lot of situational things and often those situations do not include shooting, but it you don’t shoot enough in practice in games you won’t be prepared and you’ll plant that opportunity right in the goalies chest protector.
Whether you are a coach or a player reading this my point is this, we need to shoot more and despite what you perceive as “not enough time”, you do have more than you think, if you consider the time inside the practice. How many times do we see players standing in “roller coaster” lines at practices, waiting on their turn to engage in the drill or be put into a scrimmage? Too many! As a coach for more than 20 years in various sports, what I can tell you is that players watching other players rarely understand how to watch and take mental reps, especially at the youth level, therefore we need to use this time to get them better prepared and some simple instruction on what to do to fill their time on the sideline and a few available props can inject dramatic improvements into their game.
In a recent coaches convention hosted by the Major League Lacrosse’s Ohio Machine, Head Machine Coach, Bear Davis, had to step in for a missing lecturer and he gave an awesome talk about what I am about to write. The video I took is approximately 15 minutes and it is located here:
In the first part of his speech he discusses how to get middies comfortable with shooting on the run. He says most middies struggle with this because they aren’t comfortable with bringing their shooting leg through and then their arms, its awkward and they end up stumbling and shooting a wild or inaccurate shot. Bear describes a drill in the video that players can do on their own and it is a drill they will be productive at doing because it doesn’t involve chasing balls!
The part of his speech I’d like to elaborate on here is about developing your shooters in general. There are probably 4 or 5 common attack and middie moves that players must master at all levels and which can be structured into a sideline drill with minimal space and effort. Attackers need to know how to roll the cage, rocker step, and roll over the top and shoot, they need to be able to roll out and question mark shoot, they need to inside roll and shoot inside, they need to be able to shoot quickly with minimal wind up, and they need to be able to dodge and shoot directly off of that dodge. What if instead of watching other players scrimmage each day while they wait their turn, you put them to work on a goal? Give players one of the above shots to work on each practice, they don’t get to pick, they must do that shot as much as they can every time they are out of the scrimmage and on the sideline. The next day when they are out they do another one that you direct for the day. Imagine how many more shots your players will get just with this simple practice, AND how much more impressed the onlooking parents will be when they see their sons/daughters actively engaged in doing what they brought them there to do.
I get some push back on coaches with this. There are all kinds of excuses. I don’t have coaches to manage this (you don’t need them), I don’t have enough goals to spare (you only need 1 and if you can’t spare one, use a makeshift one), I’ll lose more balls (make the players responsible for the number (but allow them 1 or 2 a practice to lose, lets be real…). You name it, I’ve heard it, but the bottom line is; if you can’t get the shots in your drills then you won’t have accurate shooters and all those goalie saves where the goalie doesn’t move, will continue to haunt you year in and year out.
I hope this helps some of you, I know it works and if that doesn’t convince you, I know that Bear Davis knows it works because when he was the Head Coach at Robert Morris University 4 times his teams led the nation in scoring so I’m pretty sure I’ll be following his advice when it comes to putting the ball in the net.