Three Drills to Increase Shooting Power by Chris Burdick
One of the most underdeveloped skills that we see in lacrosse players entering the college game from high school is shooting ability. Shooting ability is what separates a scholarship player from a walk-on for many coaches. By far, it is the thing we work on the most at Providence College with new players.
We break shooting down into three areas and, depending on the goal of a drill or task, we can work on one of the three, two of the three, or all three components at one time.
For us, the three areas of shooting are shot selection, shot placement, and shot power. To build a shooting skill set, we try to build on the latter first, with the idea that we can facilitate selection and placement once the player has learned how to shoot with power. This article focuses on just that, developing shot power in time-and-room shooters.
Shooting power is defined by shot velocity and is generated from three areas: footwork and leg strength, torso rotation, and arm extension. Since we develop both time-and-room and shoot-on-the-run ability, we develop each skill with the same progression; however, the drills will vary slightly to incorporate the specific skill. What follows is our time-and-room progression.
Shadow shooting is a drill that mimics the actual shooting mechanics but is done without a ball. Using shadow shooting allows a player to develop shooting footwork and motion without having the component of velocity or placement impeding his attention.
For time-and-room shooting, we put a goal on the sideline facing the middle of the field and dissected by the restraining line. We have players stand on the restraining for a right handed shot by placing both feet on the restraining line with their right shoulder towards the goal.
When they start their shooting motion for a right-handed shot, we ask them to drop their right foot behind the left foot, planting that right foot behind the line. This "crow step," as Chip Casto, assistant coach at Bergen Catholic (N.J.) calls it, allows the front shoulder to close so that the shooter's back is facing the direction of the shot. Once the right foot plants, the arms pull the ball forward in an overhand shooting motion as the player steps into the shot with their left foot.
Once the task is perfected we start to teach them to whip their hands through the shooting motion so they can hear the whipping sound of the stick head against the resistance of the air, which shows stick head velocity. The last step in shadow shooting is having the player take multiple crow steps into the shooting motion, covering more ground and causing a louder whipping action.
To engage the torso in the shooting motion we use seated shooting, which takes their legs out of the equation and forces them to use their body and arms. We do a seated shooting in which the player sits with his legs out in front of him facing the goal. The player then tries to get as much velocity as possible using just his torso rotation for power.
This develops into the same setting, but we now bring the player up to his knees, allowing for more torso rotation and more power.
Over Goal Shooting
The final step in the progression is our over-goal shooting drill. In over-goal shooting, we place a goal 10 yards behind another goal. Our shooters stand in front of the first goal and shoot over the top of it into the second goal. This creates the need for them to extend their arms. It also forces them to pull the ball with their bottom hand in the shooting motion, to keep the ball from flying over the fence and into a dorm on campus.
In doing this drill, it is important to have a player feed from one knee and with his hand to ensure the maximum reps in a short period of time. Also, be sure your shooter is far enough from the goal that he is shooting over to keep his follow-through free from hitting the crossbar.
We work on these shooting drills almost every day and feel that the ability of our team to shoot is the second-most important factor in winning or losing lacrosse games behind team speed.
And still, if there is one thing I think we don't do enough of, it's shooting!
Chris Burdick is the head men's lacrosse coach at Providence College, which has won multiple conference championships and been to three NCAA tournaments under his leadership. Burdick is also director of the Friar Lacrosse Camps and the PLASMA summer program. To learn more, go to FriarLacrosseCamps.com.