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Lacrosse Tip

Presented by Jason Carter, Camp Director
Nike Boys Lacrosse Camp at The Pennington School

Nike Lacrosse Tip: Fancy Footwork by Camp Director Jason Carter Of The Pennington School

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Nike Lacrosse Camp director, Jason Carter, provides two simple drills to improve your footwork:

One of my favorite drills for better footwork will focus on the mechanics and mentality of chopping up on our approach and shuffling back on our drop step. Ultimately, this skill set will benefit any player, male or female, offense or defense — even goalies! This is one of the most overlooked skills in the game because a lot of players are categorized too early in their careers as either fast or slow, only to accept this status, thinking they cannot do anything to get quicker.

Additionally, we as coaches place a lot of emphasis on developing stick skills, offensive and defensive, while the feet are expected to coordinate themselves. The feet will only do what they are trained to do. In order to be quick, we must train quick. But we must also train to be efficient and under control.

Drop Step Cone Drill
The Drop Step drill begins with a proper athletic stance. You start “sitting down,” with your chest and head up while on the balls of your feet, not your toes. Imagine being able to slide a credit card under your heels — that will help keep your feet active without feeling off balance.

We begin our drill with a short drop step. Keeping our center of gravity low, our weight will keep shifting to the inside leg as we explode off of our outside leg. Picture an offensive player accelerating out of his dodge and matching his explosiveness.

Opening our hips to the next cone is crucial to developing efficiency. Move the cones about 1½ strides apart to challenge your feet to negotiate different size steps. No two plays will ever be exactly the same so we must be agile and able to quickly adapt to the situation. Try getting a little lower at each change of direction — you should see immediate improvement.

Once we have our feet moving well, we can add a “bump” or throw a poke, slap or lift check at each cone. This will cue our feet to move when we bump or check in a game. Picture your opponent’s hips as a primary target to “bump” and the bottom hand for your check.

Chop Step Cone Drill
The Chop Step is a forward shuffle up in our athletic stance. This is extremely useful in our defensive approach, opening and closing “the gate.”

As you read the direction of the ball you can start to chop up as the off-ball responsibilities change with each pass closer to your man. Shade your opponent to one area of the field (opening the gate) by giving them some space and a lane toward the goal. Lining up your bottom hip with the top hip of your opponent you can shift his lean downhill, and shuffle and then run to maintain this positioning as the opponent changes speed.

Once we have our opponent committed to this lane, we watch the dodger’s hips to determine direction and momentum, closing the gate or initial cushion we built for ourselves. Be prepared for a rollback or change of speed and/or direction. Do not watch his eyes or stick!

The earlier we can bump or throw a check the better, but don’t freak out if he wants to settle for an outside or low angle shot. That is to our advantage and with a good goalie behind us, we likely will see a routine save and will receive a fast-break pass over our shoulder.

Chop Step/Drop Step Cone Drill Progressions
* Short chop / short drop
* Medium chop / medium drop
* Add bump and stick checks; mix up combinations to develop repertoire
* Drop 2 cones, chop up 1, drop 2, chop 1 (very useful preparing against shifty hitch or hesitation dodges)
* Midfield dodge cones — open/close “gate” — shuffle, bump and run

Note: Determining how wide to swing the gate is based on timing and your athleticism vs. that of your opponent, one of the most difficult skills in individual defense. Grab a teammate before or after practice to help you with approach angles and reading momentum/body language.

USSC is excited to offer it's first Nike Boys Lacrosse Camp in New Jersey. The Pennington School is located midway between New York City and Philadelphia in Mercer County, New Jersey. This summer, The Pennington School is offering one week of overnight and extended day camp (9:00am-9:00pm) for ages 9-18.

Check out more lacrosse training tips to help take your game to the next level!

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