Drill of the Week: High Rep Clearing
We are happy to finish our template for the drill of the week series and publish our first drill of the week. You can print it out on an A4 page and bring it with you to practice. If you feel that more or different information is needed to run the drill properly, please comment on the post or write a message to jan.miofsky[at]gmail.com.
Our first drill in this series is a clearing drill we developed for our team this season.
For young teams it is hard to find the right balance on how much time to spend in practice on clearing. It is often an area that is overlooked, because it will work well until you play a team on your level or better that is actually riding aggressively. That is when younger teams often struggle badly with clearing and rarely get the ball into the offensive half. (I am pretty sure that the team which played against us a few weeks ago will agree here.)
Alternatively, a younger team depends on 1-2 midfielders to “tank clear” the ball which is what more experienced teams usually do in that case. They are successfully clearing the ball, celebrating the guy on the sideline with fist bumps for fighting his way through three players from the opposing team. This already describes the big downside for this approach from our point of view.
“On the sideline” – the clearing player will very often be one of your best players, so you want him to play offense and not put excessive amounts of energy into clearing. Of course, this approach is still better than not clearing the ball at all. We as coaches in Stuttgart consider our ride successful if the clearing midfielder who normally also plays 1st line has to take a break after the clear.
How important is clearing?
In our experience clearing is often taken for granted by the players, because it usually works somehow or other. They often do not put the right emphasis on proper fundamentals like “turn to the outside” or “do not try to go through two guys”. If you ask the Stuttgart team, “Turn to the outside!” is probably the phrase I yelled most often in the last two years. In general, turnovers during a clear due to bad passes or wrong execution are taken too lightly by many players.
In U.S. college lacrosse, a team has around 35-40 possessions per game on average; in Europe this number is probably a bit higher. The main opportunities to play offense is either to win face-offs or to clear the ball.
There are other options to gain possessions like ground balls between the lines, successful rides/turnover by the opponent or free clears, but the majority comes from face-offs and clearing. If you do the math, you will find out that clearing is very important and probably a huge leverage point.
High Rep Clearing Drill
We came up with a clearing drill that incorporates moving while the ball is in the air instead of having players wait in a certain spot. At the moment we practice that drill about once a week for about 10 minutes. However, the actual time span for this drill will depend on its execution. The drill is supposed to be fast-paced, but clean and effective execution is equally important, meaning that at times we will run this drill as long as necessary to reach this goal. When we first introduced it, about every third pass did not connect and we had to do a lot of corrections on the cuts. So we ran the drill for 20 minutes back then, run it for 10 minutes at the moment and are aiming to cut down the time even further to 6-7 minutes.
The drill itself can be seen in the PDF here: High Rep Clearing Drill