In our practices, we do not spend a ton of time on conditioning at the end of practice, which is really precious practice time. We focus on touches and maximizing every minute of practice with skills, hard work on lacrosse, and fundamentals. But, like you, we do design our practices to be constantly moving with running 50-70 yards in drills, getting up and down, and making conditioning an inherent part of every minute.
Thus, at the end of practice, even though we are still at work, we like to feature a drill that includes some running, conditioning, emulating a game scenario, and most importantly a little fun. This 3V2 drill can be run at the beginning, middle, or end of practice, but it worked out as a great close to practice for us.
The drill is very simple but effective. It is great for players of all ages and talent levels, ranging from youth to college players. The drill offers an opportunity to coach spacing out of chaos, sliding with the stick-up and to the inside to snag a pass, and potentially so much more in terms of the fundamentals.
From Circles to 3V2
Picture two defenders and a goalie running little laps inside the crease, constantly moving. In this case, they are running in a clockwise direction. Then we have three offensive players running little circles outside the crease, but they are moving in a counterclockwise direction. All the players run a few little laps, in different directions, and then the coach rolls the ball out to play anywhere close in the offensive end, and we go live 3V2.
The players are moving and not necessarily focusing on the coach and when and where he will roll the ball, so I think this is a realistic simulation for a loose ball in a game scenario resulting in a snapshot of transition. When the ball goes down, the goalie might even be behind the cage. At this point, the offensive and defensive players need to find the ball. Potentially, the offensive players need to gain possession, create spacing, move the ball, and quickly attack the goal.
The defensive players need to make the quick decision whether it is worth attempting to try to get the ground ball or quickly stack and prepare to slide in the 3V2 scenario. Then typically one defensive player is on the ball, one in the 'hole', and after the first pass the next player slides out to the ball and the other defender back to the hole and so on.
This drill runs very quickly to a shot, maybe even with a 10 to 15 second shot clock. Now, as a coach you might have the same group stay for a best out of three or rotate to a new group after each possession. We split up our middies so they rotate to both offensive and defensive positions in the circle. But remember, competition and accountability are important and also contribute to a fun experience for the kids.
If the offensive team scores, they get a point (after all, they do have an extra man). If it is an assisted goal, it might be worth two points. If the defense keeps the offense from scoring, they get a point, and if the defense creates a turnover, gains possession and clears, they get two points.
And there is some type of penalty for the losing group and/or reward for the winning group. It might be the losing group doing 25 push-ups, or, one I like even more, passing and running up and down the field five times, or it could be as simple as the losing group having to collect the balls at the end of practice, while the winners are done for the day.
At our practice, since it was at the end, we moved two cages 25 yards or so apart. We then ran the same drill on two cages, close enough where we could yell out the scores and keep 10 kids and two goalies in the drill simultaneously and had a winning offense and defense from each cage that faced off in a match for the Grand 3V2 Circle Champions. Have fun!