Dealing with bad weather in lacrosse can be tough for a couple of reasons, especially during the winter months. Shafts get cold, and that makes your hands colder, faster. The wet weather, or cold dry weather can wreak havoc on your pocket, even if you have a waterproof mesh. Mud slows you down, cold hard fields jar your body every time you run or fall down, and when the sun sets at 4:17pm, it gets cold quickly.
Photo Credit: Jeff Melnik, Conquest Sports Photography
Depending on where you live, the winter months can definitely get in the way of playing lacrosse the way we’re accustomed to playing it. Ideal conditions are mostly sunny, 70 degree temperatures, and a nice breeze.So how does a lacrosse team go about dealing with bad weather, but still making progress towards success in the spring?
Dealing With Bad Weather In Lacrosse
Here are a couple of ways to deal with that nasty winter weather but still play plenty of lacrosse.
Try Box Lacrosse
Obviously if there isn’t any box lacrosse near you, this might not be an option. But if there is… why not try it out? You might find that you enjoy it, it’s a great way to continue to play lacrosse, and it really can help you become a better field player. Box is booming in the US (relatively speaking), so hop on board and play the game.
Play In The Gym
I remember hating early season practices in high school because we were in the basketball court gym. I always thought the space was too tight, and that it didn’t prep us well for the season… how wrong I was! The fact is, I was just not a very skilled player in high school, and tight spaces made me nervous. I couldn’t use my speed as much, and needed to rely on skill and IQ, both of which I lacked. If I had practiced more and looked at gym time as an opportunity, I would have been better off. Learn from my mistakes. Don’t hate the gym. Embrace the gym.
If You Are Outside, Make It Fun
While my first two ideas are both pretty obvious and indoors only options, the list doesn’t end there. If your team does go outside, make sure practice is high tempo, but also make sure it’s fun. The season is a long ways off still, and team bonding is still important at this point. You can make the kids team up by hating the coach for making them be outside, OR you can allow them to team up themselves simply because they enjoy lacrosse, even in the cold.
Maybe it means you do more scrimmage play. That’s certainly a simple solution that kids seem to enjoy. But it can also be smaller than that. When you do a shooting drill, hang pie tins on the corners to give kids something to shoot for. I’ve shot pie tins in the cold rain before and I could have done it for hours. Shooting on a regular cage in the cold rain just doesn’t have the same intrigue.
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Another great option, which is fun indoors or outdoors, is 3X Lacrosse. It’s also a great game for team bonding.
Ok, they are playing somewhere warm, but you could just as easily do this somewhere cold!
Tennis balls are ideal here. They are light, and this means you need to play good fundamental lacrosse. That’s perfect for preseason training!
Form A “Wall Ball Club”
While coaches can certainly do this, I actually think it’s better for students to organize things like this for a couple of reasons. 1) Students need to emerge as leaders. That’s a good life skill. 2) Students who form school approved clubs can put that on their college applications. That’s also good. 3) It doesn’t violate any rules about coaches coaching their players out of season.
Form the club, get a teacher on board as an adviser, then make up T-shirts for when kids hit certain marks for number of wall ball catch and throws. The 5K rep club might seem like a high number, but that’s only 200 reps every week days for 5 weeks. It’s really not that much, but it gives people a sense of accomplishment. 10k is next, then 25k, 50k, and 100k. I actually want a shirt that says I’ve done 100k reps of wall ball. I need to start working!
Most of my advice is how you can play lacrosse while dealing with bad weather, but sometimes it’s really good to switch things up. Basketball is a fantastic option to accomplish this. Wait, basketball was invented by a lacrosse coach (Dr. James Naismith) so that his lacrosse players could train in the winter? Say it ain’t so. It is so.
Basketball is good for conditioning, it promotes ball movement, and offense is a lot like lacrosse offense. You can work the pick and roll. Players work on their hand-eye coordination. Everyone must play offense and defense, and this creates lots of transition. It’s always good to work on transition play! Taking away the sticks also allows players to think differently, but still learn valuable athletic IQ lessons. You can do the same with indoor soccer, if that’s more up your alley.
Dealing With Bad Weather – Big Picture
It’s unlikely that you’re going to have access to a full turf field indoors when the weather turns truly nasty. If you do, bully for you! But if you don’t, there is still plenty you can do to play lacrosse and work towards a successful spring.
Concepts are very important, but it’s not about the plays you will use on the full field. It’s about the general concepts like proper spacing, help defense, defending on an island, the value of skill work as well as team work… the list goes on and on. And you can achieve all of these important general concepts through the methods above. Get the sticks going, the ball flying, and the feet moving. You’ll be ready.