The dreaded snow day. Not only does it mean you can’t practice today….it most likely means you are stuck indoors….for days. This can feel crippling. First, are you even allowed to throw balls indoors? Second, Is there really a gym big enough? Three, the danger level goes up for coaches (seriously balls flying everywhere bouncing off walls/players/bleachers…might want a helmet for you).
Unfortunately this is reality for some of us in the Northeast when those late snowstorms hit so you need a plan. What can be accomplished in a gym and how can you maximize your time. I always seemed to have a tougher time keeping players focused too in the gym. So here are my quick recommendations for indoor practice.
1. Keep numbers low and tempo high
When in the gym I’d recommend staggering JV and Varsity practices. The obvious reason is for space constraints. The more players the greater the concern for safety. Ball’s literally bounce off everything and it becomes dangerous. I also make the team very mindful of balls rolling on the floor, we don’t want twisted ankles. I also like to have a shorter practice, with smaller numbers it makes it easier to do this. I try to give the guys lots of reps and smaller numbers make it easier to keep the rep count up. I stick to 1 hour to 1:30 for indoor since you can only simulate so much. The best thing you can work one here is the athlete and that is why I keep the tempo high.
2. Passing and Passing and Passing
The great thing about box lacrosse / indoor lacrosse is the quick pace of everything. Players need to be able to track the ball, make a decision, and move it quickly. When you are in a smaller space this is a great time to work on that stickwork and quick processing/anticipation. I don’t see a lot of value in ground balls inside so why not emphasize the other key skill, passing. Here is where you break out your small size passing drills. Keep a coned perimeter and players need to accomplish “X” amount of passes until the next group jumps in. Work on relay race drills with passing and speed (always competing). All indoor drills are NO CONTACT. We don’t need anyone hitting the deck inside, but getting on hands and passing is a perfect use of this space.
3. Walkthroughs, Chalk talk, Film Review
After you’ve worked up a great sweat and you opted for a longer practice this is a great time to walkthrough a play or team offensive/defensive set. Maybe you walk through a couple times in the gym and then head to a classroom for a review on the whiteboard. Have players draw it out for you from what they recall from the gym. Watch film on how your play is supposed to run if you have something. Gym days aren’t all bad if you use them the right way. Using them to build your players IQ around your gameplan or the sport in general is a great use of this time.
Bonus: Basketball and conditioning
I love basketball the most as a complement to lacrosse. The players seem to really enjoy playing other sports too. Especially since it lets some of the players that don’t normally shine a chance to school some of the starters. I feel like this always builds camaraderie and shhh don’t tell them they are conditioning through it. I like to encourage picks on ball and movement off ball during this time as it parallels so nicely to what they should be doing in lacrosse. For some players this really helps concepts sink in. When you are given lemons make lemonade right. If you are stuck in the gym, allow the players to decompress a little with some basketball. And bottom line its fun.