2017 OHSLA/Nike Coaching Clinic Recap

The 2017 consisted of four presentations first Brian Vona, head of the Lincoln-Sudbury HS program, led off with a discussion on his vision of how to build a HS lacrosse program.  The Lars Tiffany, head coach at University of Virginia, discussed his practice and team philosophy.  Lincoln-Sudbury assistant coach Jason Orlando discussed his high school coaching themes and then detailed some drills and then coach Tiffany returned for a second round detailing drills used by UVa. 

Coach Brian Vona - Lincoln-Sudbury HS

Brian's talk was focused on the big picture of building a high school program.  His talk was a auto-biographical, using his experience at Lincoln-Sudbury as the example for his points. 


After a player committed suicide, Brian re-assessed his goals and those he wanted for the program.  He took learnings from John Yeager, Bruce Bowen (ProActive coaching Power of your words), Joe Ehrmann (check out the book Season of Life. Afterwards he pushed to make Lincoln-Sudbury lacrosse become as much an off-field learning experience as an on-field one. 

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His complete slideset in PDF form can be found here.  Some highlights:
  • Ideals of the program are enbodied in the Native american word Wematin, a word that literally translated means brother, the Lincoln-Sudbury program focuses on community, character, culture, and family.
  • Consistency in coaching staff (reduced turnover) is key for all involved.  Same coaches, same philosophy, no retraining.
  • Vertical program: not high school, not youth, but one program.
  • Players coach youth, Dad's not permitted after 6th grade.  All Coaches get interviewed.
  • Teach service first, serve before being served.  After a few years, he hears players exclaim "They don't want to let eachother down" and sees senior coaches show up at their Youth team practice on senior skip day. 40% of Lincoln-Sudbury Alum's coach now. 
  • Best players need to be the hardest workers.  If you're killing a drill, you're on the wall
  • What about Club lacrosse? Necessary evil.  But Lincoln-Sudbury has switched to a town partnership model, teaming up with other schools so the insentive is same as for the pregram: teamwork, not individual recruiting success.
  • No cuts @ LS. 40 kids on Varsity use a Varsity B schedule, JV, & freshmen. Must communicate clearly to each player. Exit interview with every player each year. Attitude, Althleticism, Ability

Coach Lars Tiffany - University of Virginia

Coach Tiffany had two talks: the first on his overall practice scheme, the second drove down into more detail on offensive concepts.  A PDF version of his notes can be found here. Overall practice themes: 
  • Is practice about team or individual? Want to produce predictive repetive behavior
  • Practice plan is posted everyday.  Films most practices, use scoreboard clock countdown to ensure practice stays on track.
  • His goal is for an unspecialized team, everybody can play anywhere.  No offense or defense, so 'offensive middies' practice occasionally as D.
  • Balance the trade-off between drill variety (costs time to teach new drill) and repetition of same drills (boring)

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Typical practice is 2hrs long.
  • First 45min - very scripted. 
    • 15min dynamic warm-up - to prevent injuires, led by players do stuff
    • 15min stick work - Line drills, 3man weave,etc. Goalies are in all drills
    • 15min Station work - Mostly Non-competitive mental stuff Attack and goalies at creases, defense in middle. 3v2, GB's, etc
  • 75min big picture stuff - Full field 5v4, rides clears, etc Discourage standing still, small ball games etc.

First 45 min

Dynamic warm-up

Run by the players, get stretched get heart rate up.

Stick Work

Some stick work samples:

Full field stick work

Full Field
  • Three lines passing down center of field ending with shot.  They can do weave, pass thru the center and/or over the top. 
  • Two sets of lines go down the alleys back the other way (also ending with a shot). They can do sticks to the outside, stick on the inside and/or over the shoulder.
Everybody's involved, goalies and poles shoot too.  Everybody's running and using sticks in different ways.  Ends up being a conditioning drill as much as skill drill.
Full Field
Follow the pass to the next line.  Start with at least two balls, that way players need to focus on more than one ball.  Get as many balls in the air as possible.
  • line drill 20yds apart, two balls per line
  • Thru ball passing: empty dodge, fire ball to other line, go to end of line
  • Empty dodge, 5 more steps, throw it back to line.

Station work.

Here there are medium size drills for things like small parts of slide schemes,  These drills are all on the Tiffany Video Clips page.

Remaining 75min larger scheme

This is the Big Picture. Full field drills more players, more running.  Videos for these drills are also on the halfway down the Tiffany Video Clips page.  This is also a place for Small ball games - make it competitive, same teams all season. The larger themes were discussed in the second Lars Tiffany talk.

Coach Jason Orlando- Lincoln-Sudbury HS

Due to time constraints from the impending snowstorm, coach Orlando's talk was abbreviated a bit and he was unable to cover many of his slides.  Download Coach Orlando's slides for more.  He also had several stick work and positioning drills in his video clips. Some other points from his talk:
  • Do not teach live
  • Communication venacular should be small snippet phrase/themes, not long complete of sentences
  • Three practice modes:
    • Skeleton - teach, no checking
    • Thud - scripted, technique first
    • Live - go at it.
  • Themes
    • Ball Movement to beats body movement
    • Use body contact to generate space
    • you go, we go - backdraft team backs you up.
    • Practice iss for training good habits, not repeating bad ones.

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Tiffany Talk #2

In the second phase of his talk, Coach Tiffany focused on transition. 

He divides transition offense into three phases:
  1. Break - even and uneven, including delayed break.
  2. Early offense - before subs complete, specialty players are still on field.
  3. 6v6 - settled and all subs are complete.

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Break - Anatomy of the Tiffany style break
  • 1st 3 players always always go.  Clear comes down side and pass should be to the attackman coming up that side
  • Everyone is above GLE in transition, attack doesn't back up goal, middie(s) crashes crease and goes thru to back up gpal
  • Interaction with the attackmen on side can be:
    • Pepper: Pass down, follow & pick down or crease attackmen can come out for razor pick
    • Jumbo If ball is coming down right side and nearside attackmen does not have a strong lefthand, he clears across then curls back, so he can shoot righty.

      As shown to right ->
    • Flip - Attack comes up outside of ball for exchange, can turn in for simple "russian pick"
Early Offense (try to get 5v5) before subs. If you're coming off, don't let guy follow you out draw him away from box. "Statue" a guy who's being faceguarded by weak defender to create 5v5.


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