Cradling Drill #3B: “Open Floor” Cradling/Dodging & Checking
- Divide the floor in half with an imaginary line (or by using pylons) lengthwise and have players in opposite corners of the floor.
- *Variation #1 (5 min): "Defender Footwork Only." One player after the other practices "tracking" backward, all the way down the floor (no ball carrier) at a cadence of 2 drop-steps one way; 2 drop-steps the other (Variation #1A). The next player in line doesn't go until the player ahead of the is halfway to centre-floor. Players can also practice tracking backward at a cadence of 3 drop-steps one way; 1 drop-step the other (Variation #1B).
*Variation #2 (5 min): "Footwork + Ball Carrier." The coach sends two players at a time, starting with one player on defense a few steps ahead of, and facing, the offensive player. The offensive player starts with the ball and zig-zags up the floor cradling at 50% running speed (using one or both cradling styles) while the defender shadows their movements defensively, using good footwork and staying balanced. Work up to 100% speed.
The next players don’t go until the first group is halfway to the rag-line. When the ball carrier approaches the prime scoring area, the defender can either get out of the way and let them take a shot on the goalie (Variation #2A), or otherwise play a live one-on-one with coaches giving more time in between reps (Variation #2B). Players switch roles (offensive or defensive) each time through the drill.
The player on defense should be practicing back-pedaling, drop-stepping, side-shuffling, tracking, looking their “check” in the chest, staying low on the balls of their feet; while maintaining top-side positioning.
*Variation #3 (5 min): "Footwork + Checking." Same as the above variation, except defenders should place cross-checks (or body checks) on the ball carrier's elbows where possible (without "lunging"), as well as put “short” slashes on the offender’s gloves/stick (in a timely fashion when they are vulnerable). Offensive should practice basic dodges while protecting the ball as best as possible, with defensive players allowing the offensive player to shoot at the end of the drill.
*Most common error = not getting low while the defender is tracking backward