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Is Time Out – Too Late?
Are you Coaching Special Situations in Time Outs?

We play hard, we coach hard and we practice hard. We work on drills, transitions, progressions, unsettled situations and Man Up/Man Down every week. We try to get our teams to improve a little bit each practice and each game. Does this sound like your staff or team?

And then comes the game, the score is close, the clock is ticking, the pressure is on, the kids are tired and we reach for the whiteboard on our last time out. Still sound like you?

[private]I want to discuss two situations we have a tendency to talk about in time outs that we probably should have been talking about at practice two weeks ago. Actually we should have done more than talk about, we should have done a better job in practice situations. This is a lesson many of us learned the hard way. But once we learn, the benefits are enormous.

  1. ‘Must take-away’ Scenarios
  2. Face Off Changes

‘Must take-away’ Scenarios: OK, One minute left and we are down one goal. “Pressure the ball” you scream, “Cover everyone tight!” And within a few seconds the opponent dodges a lunging defender, and well you know the rest…

Not only is it fixable, this is a great way to wrap up practice for ten minutes a few times a week. Have six offensive players keep it in the box, while six defenders have to take it away. And I recommend that you think about running all your players through the drill, just 30-second games and then twelve new players take the field. First make sure they understand we have ten seconds to get it in, now we are down to 20 seconds left. Make sure the players understand exactly how you want to control the ball in the box. Some coaches want to pick away, some want to spread it out and run a player, just keep your players spread out.

In terms of taking it away, can your team answer, “Who is going to double?” Is it a specific designated player? Is it the player adjacent? What about off a whistle? Personally I like to use two long sticks on the ball, outside shoulder forcing the offensive player to roll into our defensive partner. I like to cover adjacent tight, man on, and run a two-man stack in the crease that can rotate out on a long pass and set up the same scheme. It does not matter what you think is best; just communicate it to your players, and practice.

Face Off: Most all of us practice Face-Offs during the week. Let me share with you, the best teams practice them everyday. I can hear you saying that you have a series of drills your Face Off guys go through on a regular basis. But I am encouraging you to consider two key elements. First, spending time two or three times a week on Team Face Offs. This is a great way to change up your practices by running 40 second games directly off of the Face Off. Build up a little competition, or even run it with three middies on each team against a single or two Attack/Defense inside the boxes. Or even move all the players around at all the positions, you never know what you might see in a kid in a different place and time. And equally or more important to practice special scenarios you usually draw up on the sidelines.

For example, if you are getting beat consistently by a strong FOGO from your competitor try practicing bringing up a stronger Long Stick to Face to drive them off the ball, or if you are getting beat by a great, quick LSM practice having your wing middie, or even substituting a different player on the wing to simply drive off the LSM and make the ground ball after the Face Off a 2 on 2. If you think these techniques to shake things up a bit might work for you, but you have not practiced them, you are staring an illegal procedure call right in the face, usually at a critical time.

By practicing these and other techniques, you can keep the practices different, keep the kids interested and engaged, save a little frustration and ink on the board, and win more games.

Coach Mike[/private]

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