“Game shots from game spots at game speeds” is a popular mantra for coaches and players. As the video above illustrates, it is not restricted solely to basketball.
I am not a lacrosse player, coach, or fan. When I searched for lacrosse goals, the video below was at the top.
Despite my lack of lacrosse knowledge, I know that not every goal is scored like the one above. However, does the practice at the top lead to goals like the one above?
The practice was described as “game shots from game spots at game speeds”, but there was no defense; there was no goalie. The defense changes the shots in lacrosse. Because of task constraints, such as the defense and receiving the pass, players self-organize and perform shots such as the goal.
The above practice is the non-system approach to shooting about which I wrote last week. The practice focuses on only one element: technique or the technical aspect of shooting. What about the tactical? What about the perceptual? What about the cognitive? What about the environmental? What about the physical?
Furthermore, are those the only four starting points for a shot in lacrosse? Basketball teams tend to practice drills like 5-spot shooting or 7-spot shooting. Do players shoot from areas other than these spots? For ease of the drill, the pass often originates from the rebounder under the basket; is this where all passes originate in games? For the ease of the drill and to increase repetitions, players shoot multiple shots in a row from the same spot with little time elapsing between shots. Is that how one shoots in a game?
In his article on shooting today, Harri Mannonen suggested that to make a shooting drill game-like, the coach must consider the cues to which the shooter must react. He wrote:
The most obvious ones are the cues concerning the defender closest to the shooter. Also, passing to a teammate should be an option. In other words, a minimum requirement for game-likeness is the presence of the shooter, at least one teammate, and at least one defender. This may sound like a small, theoretical detail but it isn’t. This changes the way players shoot in practice.
Assuming lacrosse is similar, how game-like is the drill?
When designing drills, we have to know the purpose of the drill. There are times when a player must focus on her technique without other distractions. This is termed form shooting. These should not be game shots from game spots at game speeds. Instead, the player should be focused on one specific aspect of the shot to make a change. In this instance, the purpose would dictate a lack of defense, teammates, etc.
When trying to re-create game shots, however, the practice must consider the constraints of the game. In basketball, the immediate defense and the shot location are the primary constraints. However, there are other factors, such as the pass or the movement prior to the pass reception.
Shooting a large block of shots from an area on the court where a player tends to shoot is not game-like practice. The constraints between the practice and the game differ. The practice is non-system practice, whereas game performance requires the entire system. To make practice more game-like, we must balance the constraints of the game with the need to increase the repetitions beyond those that a player gets in a game.