Editor’s Note: We took a little hiatus from 1,000 Ways to Train for Lacrosse, but with the season fast approaching there is no better time to do everything you can to prepare yourself to be the best player you can be.
We would like to introduce you to Coach Paul Jones, our guest host for training method #71. Coach Jones currently coaches at Westfield State (NECLL).
I started my coaching career 25 years ago when I was 19, and had completed one year of college so far. Some of the best advice I was ever given was to “teach what I know”, and then learn and borrow from other coaches. One of the things I learned and borrowed was the use of a device to work on the footwork of my defensemen. To give credit where it is due, the use of these was something I borrowed from Mike Burque, who is a fellow former Westfield Cranx summer league player.
Defensemen, by nature, position and coaching, are taught to use the extra 30 inches of stick to gain an advantage over attackmen. From the time they begin using a pole, players learn to use the extra stick to their advantage, but some times forget the basic principle of defense; that defense is played with the feet first. As a way to remind my defenders, and to get them working on their footwork and body positioning, I periodically pull out this item, much to their dismay.
The items in question have been called ‘nubs’ and are made of short pieces of wood, or in my case, broken lacrosse shafts. I have spoken to other coaches who use them, and they typically buy and cut down pieces of wooden dowel. In my case, wanting to be realistic (and thrifty), I make my nubs out of broken shafts, which I cut down and then modify to make them safer. If a short stick breaks, depending on the location of the break, I can make one (and sometimes 2) nubs out of the broken shaft.
If a pole breaks, the first thing I do is inspect the remaining piece, to see if there is a viable 30” to cut it down into a shortie. I next use a hacksaw to cut the shaft just below the break so that I have a clean end. The nubs I have range in length from about 14” to 18”. The nubs are the length of the space between a defenseman’s hands. After they are cut, I stuff wine corks in both ends, and leave them so that they extend slightly beyond the edge of the metal. I next tape a nob on each end, to minimize the chance of hands/gloves slipping of the end.
My defensemen now groan when they see the nubs come out, or even hear the word mentioned because they know they are REALLY going to have to work at practice. I typically use them for 1v1s from X, with a goalie. This gets the defensemen working on footwork and positioning, like trailing through X to prevent the rollback, taking an angle through the crease, and using their feet and front hand to step up field and force the attackmen to roll back away from the front of the cage.
With the goalie, it allows the goalie and defense to work on communication as to position and when to step up field to roll the attack back. Another added benefit is the opportunity to teach the attack things about change of direction and what it takes to get up field and away from defenders.
Since I started coaching I have put on a few pounds, lost a step or two, and gotten a LOT more grey hair. In that time, however, I have also learned a few things about how to teach the game and how to motivate people. The nubs, while primitive, are effective. After running a drill with the nubs, watch how much better your defenders play once they get the poles back in their hands. If you coach, please feel free to give it a try yourself.
Until next time, only 929 to go!
An important note about training: You should always consider your own goals and decide what you want to accomplish during training. Most importantly though, always learn how to properly do an exercise before you start doing it. As very few of us are experts in Sports Science or Medicine, we always recommend doing your own research and finding credible trainers to teach you how to train. Train smart, train safe, train hard, lax on.
1,000 is a big number. Please share your favorite lifts and exercises in the comments section (or email us at [email protected]) so we can add them to our list and reach the big 1-0-0-0.