Improve Your Dodging + Shooting
One of the most noticeable distinctions between an average and elite player is their shooting and dodging ability. This is in large part due to muscle development, but a lack of practice repetition can play a role as well. In high school, you can often be a successful player without working too much on your shooting or dodging technique. Imbalances in athleticism, size, and speed allow for this. Unfortunately, once you make the transition to college, high school habits and tendencies won’t cut it anymore. The defenders are more effective, the goalies are better, and if you want to be a successful lacrosse player at that level, it’s necessary to become technically sound.
Ultimately, if you want to become a better player, you must focus on repetition and practice. Ideally, you want to be taking at least 100 shots every day if you want to improve your shooting. Taking stationary shots right in front of the net helps, but ideally you want to be taking shots while on the run or as you come out of a dodge. When doing any form of lacrosse training, it's best to simulate a game-like environment as much as possible. That way, once you strap on the helmet and hit the field it will feel like a natural extension of your training. To speed up the process, here are CoachUp's favorite drills for improving your dodging and shooting skills.
The goal of this drill is to improve your split dodge and shot on the run -- two vital skills for a successful midfielder. All you need for this drill is a ball, a net, and three objects you can use as markers, cones are ideal but anything will do. The first two cones should be ten yards away from the net and placed 3-5 yards outside of the goal posts. The next cone should be roughly five yards further back, but aligned with the center of the net.
Start the drill around 7-10 yards behind the furthest cone. As always, run full speed into the first cone where you'll perform a split dodge, and exploding quickly out of it. Then, depending on which way you split, proceed to one of the final two cones and finish by taking a shot on the run. It's important to get reps split dodging both ways and with both hands, so don't forget! In order to be the most threatening offensive player you can be, you'll need to be competent and confidant with each direction. In addition, ambidextrous skill will keep your defender guessing. Do the first 25 reps starting with your stick in your right hand splitting left, then switch for the next 25 and repeat.
For this drill you need a ball, a net, and those three cones for marking. The first cone should be placed five yards behind the goal line extended, or two yards outside of the crease, and aligned with the center of the net. The two remaining cones should be placed five yards outside of the posts and five yards above the goal line extended on opposite sides of the net. Start the drill by sprinting to the first cone, split dodge, proceed to one of the final cones where you'll plant your inside foot, the one facing goal, to help you quickly turn to let off a shot. Get into your defender, so when you plant and pop out there will be enough space for a shot. Remember it’s important to get reps shooting with both hands, so make sure you perform split dodges in both directions.
(Related: Read about adding footwork + agility to your game here.)
At the end of the day, these are just two methods you can use to improve your shooting for the upcoming season. However, it's equally important to go full speed, dodge hard, and finish strong when practicing any type of shooting drill in order to get the most out of it. You won't benefit nearly as much from practicing at a 50% pace. Be intense, be disciplined, and envision executing the hard dodges you practice in a game situation.
If your split dodge is still giving you fits, consider booking one of CoachUp's private trainers to help you out along the way. Our talented team will have you shooting with confidence and faking out your opposition in no time! What are you waiting for?