Chestnut Hill College is coached by lacrosse goalkeeping legend Brian Dougherty, so you just know the team is going to be a well-coached bunch. But how exactly is it being accomplished? We can’t give it all away, but for now, Chestnut Hill was willing to let us show off one of their creative training drills eloquently labeled “Nuggets Off Rebounder.”
The idea is to help players adjust quickly to passes coming through their positional zone on defense and either intercept them or tip them away from their intended target. I played a lot of zone at Weselyan back in the day, and can vouch for the importance of getting sticks up and tipping passes. I was never a great takeaway guy in college, but tip passes were my wheelhouse. It will serve CHC well to focus on this!
The drill is really quite simple, but the complexity of a drill is never been what makes it effective! A player stands facing the rebounder and a coach fires a pass from behind the player to the rebounder. The player must see the ball coming in to the rebounder out of the corner of their eye and react to the “pass” that the rebounder generates.
As an offensive player receives a pass, they often know where their next pass will go. The ability to get a stick up and deflect that pass forces the offensive team to move their feet more and doesn’t allow them to settle as seamlessly on O. By focusing on this aspect of defensive positioning and reacting, the players can then go back to 6 on 6 drills and incorporate the skill more readily.
For high school and younger (and even some college) players, this type of drill may be a little too advanced, but the key here is that Chestnut Hill is teaching skills that can then be used in a broader context. Knocking down passes during 6 on 6 is probably not something the coaches focus on, but by teaching it one-on-one, players are able to go forth and work on it in every drill, as a secondary but ever-present purpose.