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Skills & Drills
Some Tips and Advice for New Players
Stick Skills are Key
Your stick is your most important asset in lacrosse, no matter what position you play and no matter what other strengths you have (like size, strength, or speed). Practice with your stick every day, using both your strong and weak hands (right/left or left/right). Whenever you have any free time or play time, get your stick and a ball and practice cradling, passing and catching (with a friend or a wall), or dodges. Your stick should become an extension of your body. Train your muscles to do the movements for proper cradling, passing, and catching, and with repeated practice your muscles will actually memorize the movements. Eventually your stick will become automatic. Imagine it. You're in a game one day, you see a cutter and as you think "pass" the ball is already on its way straight into the cutter's stick - a perfect feed! A goal! You get the assist! Or imagine this. You catch a side outlet pass and as you run up the right sideline cradling to the outside a defender appears from nowhere to force you out of bounds. Without even thinking it you execute a perfect split dodge, in a single movement switching your stick to your left hand and exploding off your right foot to your left, the defender falling past you as he tries but fails to change direction with you. Fast break!
Want some drills to practice? Come back to this page often.
Cradling is the motion that keeps the ball in the pocket of your lacrosse stick. By moving your stick in a circular motion, you exert enough centripetal force (look it up!) to keep the ball from coming out of the pocket. Here are some drills to try in your free time:
First, get your stick and a ball (duh!). Also, boys, wear your lacrosse gloves when you do these drills; you want to be your best in games, and you don’t go barehanded in games.
Against the Wall Drill. We do this in the clinics and early practices, only without the wall. Stand with your back against a wall. Hold your stick vertically (that is, straight up and down), and start to cradle back and forth across your body. While cradling try to make the head of your stick touch the wall on both your right and left sides. Remember to keep your bottom hand loose around the shaft of the stick and more or less stationary at your waist, and with your top hand and arm bring the head of the stick around your face from one side to the other. One way to picture this movement is, first, “hear” the head of your stick at the start of the motion, “see” it as it comes around the front of your body, and then “hear” it again with your other ear, and then bring it back the same way to the starting point. OK, maybe this sounds or looks silly or stupid, cradling against a wall, but watch a college or pro player execute a full face dodge – when he or she brings the stick across the body and dodges past the defender, the stick comes all the way around the body to the opposite side, like touching an imaginary wall. So practice it that way, and in a game it will be an automatic motion that you don’t have to think about as you dodge, shoot and score!
Cradle and Pivot. Now that you’re an expert at cradling while standing still with your back to a wall, practice cradling and moving at the same time with this drill. Stand and cradle a ball in your stick counting the number of cradles. Start with a right-handed cradle. After ten cradles, plant your left foot and use it as a pivot point to turn around and face the opposite direction, cradling continuously while you pivot and turn around. Do ten cradles and then pivot again on your left foot to end up at the starting position. Then switch hands, cradling left-handed ten times and then pivot using your right foot around to the opposite direction, again cradling continuously as you pivot around. Cradle ten more times and pivot around on your right foot again back to the starting position. Keep doing this until you’re dizzy (just kidding). But do practice it, because in games you don’t get to cradle standing still; you need to be moving constantly to avoid defenders and to create space to pass or shoot the ball. A friend (or even an enemy!) can make this drill more fun and challenging by blowing a whistle or saying “pivot” to make you turn, instead of turning after every ten cradles. Try to react quickly on the whistle or pivot command to quicken your reaction time.
One-handed Cradle. We saw Coach Matt Kerwick teach this drill at clinics and thus sometimes call it the “Kerwick Cradle.” We hope he does not mind. This drill is really more of an exercise to strengthen your hand, wrist, and arm muscles, but like a drill it does train your muscles to the point that they “memorize” the movement, and after a lot of practice it becomes automatic. Hold your stick in one hand at about the half-way point on the shaft, with your arm out from the side of your body and the face of your stick’s head pointing straight ahead of you. Your thumb should be straight up and down the side of the shaft closest to you (the wide section of the classic octagonal shaft) – don’t wrap your thumb around the front of the shaft. Now twist your wrist away from your body so that the head of your stick makes a semi-circular motion, creating centripetal force (you looked it up, right?) keeping the ball in the pocket of your stick, and then un-twist your wrist back to the starting point. While doing this wrist-twisting motion you might (and can) also slightly bend your elbow and move your forearm away from your body. Coach Kerwick tells how his coach at Irondequoit (NY) High School made his players do this exercise continuously for three minutes with each hand. Try it and let your coach know how your arm feels.
Wall Ball Drill
Watch this Liam Banks Wall Ball Video and practice it 30 minutes a day!
Ground Balls for Girls
Cradling for Girls
Throwing for Girls
Catching for Girls
Shooting for Girls
Artful Dodging for Girls
Defense Position for Girls
Stick Checking for Girls
Crease Defense for Girls
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