2014 Nike Coaching Clinic Recap

This year's Nike Coaching Clinic this was broken up into mutiple sessions:
  • Morning Session where coach Mike Daly of Tufts (Tufts '95) discussed his team's philosophy and how his practice regimen prepares his players to execute it. 
  • First Afternoon session coach Jamie Archer (Syracuse '93) started off discussing his coaching philosophy at Jamesville-DeWitt program followed by his offensive assistant, coach Tim Ristau (Villanova '00), detailing the offensive sets that Jamesville DeWitt uses. 
  • The last session was Nike's own Bill Daye (UNC '93) giving a "Lax Goalie 101" presentation for coaches who do not have a goalie coach on staff to rely on. 

Coach Mike Daly - Tufts

Coach Daly introduced the audience to his team's aggressive offensive philosophy.  Push the ball whenever possible in transition: fast-break, slow break, pole, defensive middie, whoever.  Doesn't matter who has the ball or who's on the field, take advantage of space and/or numbers.  The reasoning behind this is that it has become too hard to score against settled 6v6 defense in college thanks to better team defenses, better long-stick athletes, and specialty players.  New substitution rules may reduce the role of specialty players, but he believes it will always be easier to score in transition than after the defense has settled in and matched up.  Some other highlights:
  • Mechanics are practiced everyday.  Even something as simple as throwing with on hand 15' apart can reveal problems with a player's mechanics or too much whip his pocket.  For every passing drill: Half-cradle between each pass, at most.  Lacrosse is a fast continuous sport, you don't hold onto the ball like golf or football. 
  • Each practice has a "fundamental of the day" which is stressed throughout the practice. 
  • Embrace mistakes.  Players who fear making mistakes won't be creative.  Mike tried to remember a quote from John Wooden, the actual quote: "If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything.  I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes."
  • Trust your players - There is always a temptation as a coach to micro-manage players on the field.  Coach Daly believes that, as difficult as it may be, sometimes you have to leave the decision making to the kids and trust them with your paycheck.  You, as a coach, "have to have the fortitude to stick with a philosophy, embrace mistakes, and give the game to the players.  They will reward you."
  • "Since you don't have the ball most of the game, you need to be good without the ball, on both offense and defense."
  • Practice the way you want to play - Players can't just turn on a style of play on game day, they need to live it.  Tufts practices the way they play: up tempo, recognize transition, create or find the 2v1, make mistakes, force opponents to stop you, etc.  Lots of drills with specialists out of position, attack on defense, long poles on offense, etc. 

Coach Daly was kind enough to share both his presentation (no Mocrosoft Office™? try the PDF version) and his video clips below with the OHSLA.  The (smaller) embedded clips can be played in place on the page while reading comments.  For a larger version simply click on the link below the video and a popup window will appear with the full sized video.  There were two sets of videos, the clips that he showed during the presentation and afterwards some clips of drills where Coach Daly discussed some additional drills that Tufts uses. 

Presentation Clips
Video Clip Comments

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Presentation Clip #1 - Tufts vs Cortland Goal#4.  

Every Tufts player, including long-sticks, are encouraged to attack aggressively when there is space. 

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Presentation Clip #2 - Tufts vs Salisbury Goal#1.  

Slow break situation, note the same-side outlet attackman clears through, instead of the stepping out for the outlet pass (to get the defensive 'specialist' off the field).  This gives room for the clearing (freshman defensive midfielder) to attack the cage. 

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Presentation Clip #3 - Tufts vs Salisbury Goal#8.  

Slow break situation, tight game, two long sticks stay on offensive end and go right to the crease.  Salisbury defenders don't match up in time and open men get the goal after a scramble. 

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Presentation Clip #4 - Tufts vs Salisbury Timeout.  

Even the best laid plans fall short...  Call a timeout to set up a play, whistle blows, play begins, and the first pass is thrown out of bounds wasting the timeout. 

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Presentation Clip #5 - Tufts plays up and down the field.  

Defender sprints downfield on the slow break, quick shot, save by other team and back to the defensive end.  Cost of doing business Tufts style offense.  Tufts is not going to pull the ball out and lose a chance at a goal-scoring an opportunity just because they've been playing defense for a while.  Press to the goal before other team can get its defensive specialists on the field. 

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Presentation Clip #6 - Tufts vs Endicott Goal#9, No specialty players.  

Tufts does do FOGO.  If a face-off is won, they're going to the cage before the defending team can get their specialists on the field.  BTW - The finish was a pretty decent low angle shot, not high presentage, but there was a backup if he missed. 

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Presentation Clip #7 - Bez Drill (description on slide #24).  

Named for the Duxbury Alum that brought it to Tufts, OHSLA coaches will know this as the Rhino drill. 

  • Two teams form 3 lines behind their goals.
  • Starting end sends out 3 first players from line behind goal against 2 players (from outside lines) on other end for a 3v2.
  • Play ends with turnover, missed shot, or goal.
  • Goalie gets new ball out of the goal three new guys take off from line behind him, two outside offensive players from last 3v2 go back on D.

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Presentation Clip #8 - Brady Drill #1 (description slide #26).  

Named after graduate assistant's favorite QB (changes every year).  Simulates a turnover during a clear. 

  • Simple open four pass clear quickly converting into a 5v4 break the other way. 
  • Clearing four players must stay in a line until ball is given to the offense, no cheating back. 
  • Play stops with goal, missed shot, or turnover. 

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Presentation Clip #9 - Brady Drill #2.  

Every time is different... 

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Presentation Clip #10 - Brady Drill #3.  

Another version  Note that next round of drill starts before previous round has cleared the field.  Learn to find teammates in a crowd...

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Presentation Clip #11 - Add it Up (description on slide #30).  

Progressive full field 4v3, 4v4, 5v4, 5v5, 6v5, 6v6. 

  • 2 teams (two colors) defense and attack defend their own ends. 
  • Each team has a line of midfielders on their restraining box to break away for the clear. 
  • One team starts off: midfielder leaves line clearing into 4v3.
  • Play continues till missed shot, missed pass, turnover or goal.
  • Goalie pulls ball out of net to start the other way. 
  • If defense gets ball, new midfielder leaves his line for headstart in clear. 
  • Rides are live, if turnover on ride go right back to the goal. 
  • After 6v6 other team gets to start off the drill, so they have the extra man each time down. 
  • Each cycle gives three possessions per team.  Should take 1:30/cycle. 

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Presentation Clip #12 - Mini Game (description on slide #32).  
  • 4v4 across the width of the field.
  • Teams of 5 or 6, subs on sideline.
  • Faceoffs only begginning of period, goalie pulls ball out of net & clears on goals
  • Sideline players are expected to follow game rules (5yds back, out of the box, etc) and pay attention (know the score and the last call by Ref) or run. 
Note the tight space behind the goal, indicative of the Tufts philosophy to keep offensive players in front of the GLE so that they occupy defenders. 

Variation: Subs on field, but only 4 on offensive half, players sub on the fly.  See who can really count to stay on-sides when riding & clearing.

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Presentation Clip #13 - Thunderdome Drill #1 (description slide #34).  

Force man advantage from faceoff with losing draw man leaves field immediately on possession.  Or speed it up by reating a violation (sending a middie off the field). 

  • Face-off
  • On possession call out loser's name/color (or call a violation) and that faceoff man leaves the field.
  • Other team goes to goal ASAP.

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Presentation Clip #14 - Thunderdome Drill #2.  

Quick (random) faceoff violation (sending a center middie off the field), creates man advantage off faceoff. 

Some more Tufts Drills
Video Clip Comments

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1v1 with Nubs - Yes even college coaches use nubs to help get players focused on footwork.  This version of the drill is just getting defenders to force the ball carrier to one side without rolling back. 

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Cone V Drill - Close out and throw a poke (at player's right cone), recover (to player's left), close-out, recover, etc. 

Possible variation: add players to close-out cones so runners can gauge when to stop and hit the bottom hand or catch sloppy cross-over by ball carrier (or just move on to Passing Lane drill below). 

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Passing Lane Drill - Cone V Drill with players. 
  • Three offensive players in triangle, lone defender starts on ball. This is 'his man'.
  • Ball goes to another offensive player. 
  • Defender follows ball, pokes new ballhandler. 
  • Ball continues to the third offensive player, defender recovers to his original man. 
  • Ball moves back to the original ballhandler ASAP. 
  • Defender tries to intercept pass. 
  • Defender stays in drill until he cuts off the pass (shown in 2nd clip). 

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BullDog - Simple clearing practice. 3 lines, four positions. 
  • Ground ball to one sideline GLE, pick up, roll back, crossfield pass to other side.
  • Over-the-shoulder pass to breaking player at restraining line. 
  • Pass over midfield to waiting player and ball comes back, passer follows his pass across midfield. 
  • No line for the last pass he jogs it back into 1st (ground ball) line. 
  • Players follow their pass to rotate each line, every position player plays in every line. 

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Exchange Drill - This drill forces defenders perform secondary slide rotations after a defender reacts when the ball moves to an uncovered player. 
  • 6 on offense, 3 on defense. 
  • 4 open offensive players surround the the 3 defenders in a box, 2 remaining offensive players in crease area.
  • No more than 2 offensive players permitted on the crease. 
  • Ball moves around outside between (uncovered) offensive players. 
  • Defender comes out to poke ballhandler everytime the ball moves. 
  • As ball moves defenders leave crease to defend new ballhandler, the two backside defenders scramble to cover open players in the crease. 
  • If the crease is open, outside players can make the feed.

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6v6 Scramble - Typical scramble format.  

One defensive player is pulled out randomly (at ~18sec in this clip) and runs to the closest edge of the box then returns.  Offense finds 2v1 ASAP (before defensive player gets back).  For more extra man time, make the removed defensive player run further... 

Coaches Archer and Ristau - Jamesville-DeWitt

Coach Archer and Ristau were also kind enough to give us their PowerPoint presentations. You can download Coach Archer's presentation and Coach Ristau's JD Offensive Strategy presentation.

Coach Archer started off discussing his coaching history as a way of instructing the audience that despite being a coach of a top-flight nationally ranked program today, it hasn't always been that way.  As a high school coach he was able to touch on themes that were a little closer to home for the attending coaches.  He introduced on his coaching philosophy, an aggressive all-player attacking style similar to Tufts, as well as stressing the importance of a youth program that follows the same tenets as the High School teams that those grow into.  At the Youth Level:

  • Coach the mass - The whole team, not just the good kids over on the side.
  • Development first, not winning - Everybody plays, everybody gets better.
  • Equal teams - No A & B team, equal skill levels on all teams.

Coach Ristau detailed the offensive sets that Jamesville-DeWitt relies on (2-3-1 & 2-2-2).  His slide set details offensive movements using animations, be sure to use PowerPoint in slide show mode when reviewing his slides to stepp thru the offensive sets.  One concept that would definitely be unusual for Oregon was Jamesville-DeWitt having six attackmen for an offense.  As Coach Archer mentioned previously, Jamesville-DeWitt players were expected to defend as well as they attack, whether they are midfielders or attackmen and it sounds like they practice that in action. 

Bill Daye - Nike

Bill gave a quick goaltending basics overview, a.k.a. "Goalies 101", which was focused on youth level as per the questions, but should still apply to all levels.  There were no slides for this talk, but one can find many resources on the web such as:

Here where some other takeaways from Bill's talk:

  • On Youth Beginner Goalie Coaching - You can't have enough protection for a young goalie, you don't want him to become afraid of the ball or getting hurt. 
  • Body Position is key - a good goalie needs to know where he is in the goal.  They need to learn the arc.  This 5-step arc video conforms to Bill's philosophy for positioning when the ball is in front of the cage 5 positions :left pipe, left 45, center front, right 45, right pipe.  However the video does have a different positioning when the ball is behind then Bill demonstrated: he prefers to stay in the center of the goal (pivoting to face the as it move behind) until the ball reaches a side near the GLE where the goalie will gets to his pipe position, either will probably work depending on he goalkeeper's skill set.  Goalies need to work on their arc every practice, so every warm-up should include moving the goalie side to side from different angles and distances.  Can be tossing the ball by hand or or with a stick as you move the goalie, but be sure to give feedback if they drift out of position. 
  • Attack the Ball - Bill believes that a goalie should not just step to the ball, but attack it.  Lead with the hands step to the ball (at 45° angle when it's to the side to both get body behind it and cut off the angle) to get both your hands and body behind the ball.  Same principle as a baseball infielder: Proactively move to the ball don't react. You play the ball or the ball will play you.
  • Tennis Balls are a good thing - Bill uses tennis balls regularly with goalie drills.  They can keep the goalie from accumulating bruises and, since they are harder to catch, can help a keeper develop a lighter touch. 
  • Keep your keeper confident - No need for a goalie to participate in shooting drills with the team, that's what a Hector the Protector is for.  Getting shelled from a random distance by players all wanting to show how hard they can throw the ball, can not only affect his confidence, it can get him hurt.  Maybe a shooting drill with tennis balls (catching tennis balls will help field players develop softer hands too), but not with lax balls. 
  • On the goalie's stick and pocket - There is nothing worse than a goalie making a save and then throwing it to the other team.  A Goalie needs to throw as well as he can catch, he needs to be comfortable in the field scooping on the run, catching, throwing, and cradling.  You don't want a goalie who panics when he leaves the crease.  Maybe have him participate in the stick-skill warm-up with the field players in practices.  Make sure the goalie's pocket is not affecting his ability to throw.  Bill recommends hard mesh because soft mesh when in a big goalie head tends to develop a whip (throw down) especially when it gets wet


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