Cradling Drill #3A: Cradling/Dodging Around Pylons (“Side-To-Side”)
- Arrange pylons and/or coaches (who can also try to strip the ball in the advanced variations of this drill) into any straight, zig-zag or combined formation, within an imaginary lengthwise half of the floor (pylons may also be used to mark the floor).
- Have players line up behind the goal-line, in opposite corners, in opposite ends, to start. This drill could also be done on half of the floor, with more emphasis on finishing while coming out of a dodge, as opposed to the dodge itself.
*Variation #1 (5 min): "Speed & Agility Build Up." Starting at walking speed, emphasize the coordination of walking and cradling. Work up to 50% speed, having players weave through the pylons, being sure to protect the ball. Make sure that they also cut closely around the pylons, with an appropriately timed weight transfer off of their outside leg.
Increase to 75-100% speed the second/third time through the pylons, once satisfactory technique is established. The next player doesn’t go until the first player is around the second pylon.
At the end of the drill players take a shot on the goalie (inside or outside), net, or make-shift targets (i.e. top corners, bottom corners, "posts," or shooter tutors). Encourage players to take a quality shot from their proper-floor-side, otherwise drifting if they are on their wrong-side.
*Variation #2 (10 min): "Make A Move." Same as the above variation except players make a basic offensive move at each pylon: "stutter steps,” "hitch-step," "face dodges," "roll dodges (left & right)," "toe drags," and/or "swims." For beginners, consider having them first try the move while standing still and without a ball, progressively building up to running with a ball around the pylons.
*Variation #3 (5 min): "One-Handed." Incorporate one-handed cradling into the movement patterns described above.
Variation #4: "Passing Game." Have a player stand at every pylon, with balls being passed into the drill by the coach. Players pass the ball along the zig-zag formation, from one end to the other, with the last player closest to the net taking a shot on the goalie (Variation #4A - 5 min). Players "follow their pass" and advance forward to the pylon that they had previously passed to until they become the shooter.
Another variation of this drill (if you have no goalies), would be to see how many times players can pass through the zig-zag without dropping the ball (Variation #4B - 5 min). In this variation, instead of shooting, the player at the end runs the ball back to the beginning; or sends it back in the direction it came from once it reaches the end.
*Most common error = not protecting the ball when cradling around the cones/coaches