Stickwork Drill #2: “Partner Passing”
- Demo (1 min): Catching (See Catching Skill Analysis).
*Variation #1 (5 min): "Stationary Passing & Catching." Work on just stationary catching to begin with, giving every player a ball and having them toss it up in the air a few times, trying to get a feel for catching it (Variation #1A).
Next, remove a ball from half of the players and position them in two rows, 3-5 metres apart, one row with balls and the other without. Players become partners with the person across from them and practice underhand passing the ball (with their bare hand) to the other partner, who tries to catch it in the triple threat position using "soft hands" (Variation #1B). This technique can also be used to work on catch & shoot ("quick release") scenarios as well (Variation #1C), whereby one partner underhand passes the ball with their bare hand to their partner several metres across from them; the partner then trying to seamlessly catch and shoot the ball all in one motion.
Each player should get at least 5-10 quality attempts to catch the ball in this fashion, with more experienced players allowed to pass the ball with their sticks, instead of their hands. Players should give each other a target to pass to when preparing to receive the ball.
For beginners, coaches should be aware, identifying any players that are having considerable trouble catching and/or passing, pulling them aside in small groups of players that have a similar problem (catching or passing).
For catching problems, with the player's back against the boards and a line up of players along the boards, the coach underhand tosses the ball to players who try to catch it; if they miss, the ball should roll right back to the coach. For passing problems, revert back to Stickwork Drill #1.
*Variation #2 (3 min): "Long Pass/Lob Pass." Move next to 10 metres apart (then 15m, then 20m). On longer passes have young players start with a crow hop, similar to a long throw to home plate in baseball (“throw the ball high and far on a 45° angle").
As players get farther away from each other the release point (where the ball comes out of the stick) will have to be slightly further behind the players head in order for the pass to make it to the target in the air; especially for younger/weaker players. Older more experienced players should practice their lob passes lob in this context.
*Variation #3 (7 min): "Dynamic Passing & Catching." Progress to just the passer running toward the receiver from a starting distance of 10-15m away (if beginner), passing to a stationary receiver, then backpedaling back to their original starting position (Variation #3A).
Next, practice with just the receiver running toward the passer, with the passer using basic footwork (left and right) before making the pass. The player that receives the pass then backpedals back to their starting position, and their partner repeats said actions (Variation #3B).
Another variation is for both partners to run towards each other, make a pass and then either continue to run forward to the other side, or backpedal back to their starting position (Variation #3C). Intermediate & advanced players should move back to 20 metres away from each other to start.
Lastly, have players run one forward and one backward (staying 5-10 metres away from each other), from one side board to the other, switching which partner runs forward and which runs backward each time (Variation #3D).
*Variation #4 (3 min): "Face Away." Start with one partner facing away from the other partner, looking back to receive a pass over their back shoulder (still showing a target). After passing the ball, both partners switch relative positions, with the former passer now facing away and catching the ball over their shoulder while "stationary" (Variation #4A).
This drill can also be done in "dynamic" fashion (Variation #4B), with one partner running away from the other partner, and the other partner running toward the player running away, passing them the ball over their shoulder. These two players switch roles after each pass; the player "facing away" who catches the ball turns and passes it back to the player trailing them after each catch.
*Variation #5 (3 min): "1 Up, 1 Down." Same as the variations above except one player is receiving passes and rolling out loose balls, while the other partner is practicing attacking loose balls and then making an outlet pass. Partners switch roles every 30 seconds, and also try to make trickier loose balls and passes as they progress.
Variation #7 (3 min): "Flip Passes." Same as above except players utilize a "flip pass."
Variation #8 (3 min): "Reaction Pass." From a stationary position have one player (receiver) "facing away" from the passer until the pass is released, at which point the passer yells "yeah" and the receiver turns around trying to catch the pass with very little time to "react."
Variation #9 (3 min): "Short Hoppers." Similar to the above variations except encourage players to find the appropriate distance away from their partner to bounce the ball directly in front of them; forcing them to catch it on a "short hop."
Variation #10 (3 min): "2 Balls." Similar to the above variations except now there are two balls per pairing. Players throw their pass at the same time and then have to utilize their reaction time to catch the ball, almost immediately after they throw. Coaches be sure to have plenty of balls on hand to substitute in for errant passes.
Variation #11 (3 min): "Consecutive Catches Game." Same as the above variations of the drill except have players keep track of how many times in a row they catch the ball without a drop. If a ball is dropped, players must start their count over from zero.
*Most common error = not giving a target to the passer and/or not calling for a pass