Cradling Drill #4: Coming To Balance Drill (Contact Prep)
- Demo (1 min): Coming To Balance, Body Contact
- Variation #1 (5 min): "Stop On A Dime." Have players lined up roughly 10 metres away from the side-boards. Players should be facing the boards, with pylons marking a "cushion" area 1 metre away from the boards. When the coach says go, all players run toward the pylons at a progressively faster speed each rep through the drill, starting at 50% speed.
- The goal of the players is to slow their momentum and "come to balance," taking as few steps as possible as they approach the pylon, attempting to stop exactly where the pylons are without losing their balance and falling into the "cushion" area. Coaches should identify the proper speed to challenge the athleticism of the athletes, having them perform several reps at their ideal speed.
Variation #2 (5 min): "Balance, Engage & Release." Same as the above variation except this time players are in single file lines and run toward a cluster of pylons in a equilateral triangle formation (2m x 2m x 2m).
The first player runs up to the top pylon, comes to balance, then side shuffles in a semi-circle formation from side-pylon to side-pylon (mimicking a loose ball scrum); eventually sprinting out of the drill (Variation #2A). Players should switch which side of the triangle they start their side-shuffle on, each time through the drill.
Next, add a pile of balls that players can scoop a loose ball from after the footwork pattern mentioned above (Variation #2B). The other option is for coaches to roll a loose ball into the drill as players are completing their side-shuffle pattern.
Variation #3 (5 min): "Balance & Roll Off." Have players start in single file lines that are facing each other, 5-10 metres apart. The first two players run toward each other at 25% speed and body check each other (or a coach with a checking pad), trying to spin or roll off of the check as the contact is initiated.
Progressively build up the speed that players approach each other. Start the drill with no balls (Variation #3A) and advance to both players having balls, attempting not to drop them as they initiate their contact (Variation #3B). Players exit the drill to the back of the opposite line after taking their turn.
Variation #4 (5 min): "Open Floor Check." Same as the above variation except there is now a defensive line (no balls), and an offensive line (with balls). Lines can be north-south (as seen in diagram) or east-west in orientation. After receiving a body check from the defender, the ball carrier attempts to continue their momentum toward the net for a shot, with both players switching lines after the drill.