Lacrosse is nicknamed "lax," but you can't be lax on the field. Face it, if you're not willing to keep moving, lacrosse isn't your game. Agility is particularly important in the women’s game, which permits less body contact than the male version. Performing agility drills in practice can help you develop the skills you need to create a path to the net, or shut down the opponent’s big guns, once the whistle sounds and the real action begins.
Defenders must be particularly agile because attackers know where they’re going, while the defenders have to react. To keep that bounce in your defenders' steps, use drills pitting them against multiple attackers. To perform a keep-away drill, place one or two defenders among five forwards in a limited area. Have the forwards roll the ball to each other while the defenders try to steal it. This drill helps all your players develop ground ball skills as well. You can also play “lacrosse tag” by placing a defender or two among seven or more players, then have your defenders simply try to touch a non-defender with her stick. Have all the players carry their sticks with proper form throughout the drill to improve their agility and stick control skills.
Lacrosse is a game of quick movements; don’t count on standing still with the ball very often. Instead, learn to make plays while on the run. In a one-on-one dodge and scoop drill, for example, the forward faces the defender, while the coach stands behind the defender, holding a ball. The coach signals to the forward which way she’ll pass. The forward then runs toward the defender, executes a fake, then accepts the pass, while the defender tries to maintain her position and block the attacker’s progress. Or try a quick scoop drill in which a pair of players line up on each side of a rectangular area, in a zigzag setup, with about 15 yards of space in the middle. Another player runs through the middle and accepts rolling passes from each sideline player in turn. The player in the middle runs forward, scoops up the ball, puts it down, then moves forward to accept the next player’s pass.
You need quick hands as well as fast footwork in lacrosse, particularly if you’re a forward. When you get the ball in scoring position you’ll become very popular with the defenders, several of whom will likely rush to your spot -- but not to greet you, to take the ball away -- so you need to release the ball quickly when a scoring chance occurs. You can perform a variety of quick shot drills, with passers at various points on the field. In some drills, you may run into the center of the offensive zone, take a pass from the corner, then twist your body and shoot. In other drills you can run toward the net, accept the pass and shoot, almost in one motion.
A goalie covers much less ground than field players, but she must be lightning quick within that small area to keep the ball out of her net. Place your goalkeeper in the net for any of your shooting drills to help develop her agility, or simply spread players across the field and have them shoot, one after another, forcing the goalie to move quickly to her right and left to make saves.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.