With lacrosse season right around the corner, now is the time for participants to dust off their gloves and pick up their stick to prepare for the upcoming season. Even though a majority of the country is still covered in snow, there are plenty of ways to work on stick handling and ball control without having a field at your disposal. Work these tips and drills into your pre-season regiment, and you’ll be on top of your game as soon as the first whistle blows for spring practices.
Reacquaint Yourself with Your Stick and Gloves
Via Oregon Live
Similar to hockey, lacrosse is one of the few sports when you utilize your equipment for the entire game, both on offense and defense. Being familiar with your stick is vital to proper ball control, passing, shooting, and dodging, which is why it pays to spend time with your stick in the off-season. Reestablish a feel for your hand positioning on the shaft, and work on different scenarios, such as changing hands, cradling, or coming off a dodge for a shot. Once your hands feel comfortable handling the stick again, start to wear your gloves to truly get a game feel for how you handle your stick in different situations. Also, check all strings in the head and replace any strings that may look worn or showing signs of rot/water damage from sitting in a closet or garage since last season. To keep your gloves fresh after a workout, spray the insides and outsides with Clear Gear Sports Spray to ward off infections and foul smells that may develop after repetitive use.
Cradle, Cradle, Cradle
The cradle is the most basic aspect of the game. It’s a technique that every single position utilizes, and is vital for moving around the field with the ball under control. There are a few different drills that can be done indoors or outdoors to improve your cradling skills:
One Hand Cradle
Stand in front of a mirror and cradle with one hand, using the other hand to “shield” the imaginary defender between you and the mirror. The goal of this drill is to keep your stick behind your body and out of sight of the mirror. If you can see your stick in the mirror, so can a defender in a game setting. Be sure to work on both hands.
Begin by cradling on your dominant side for a count of 10-20, then switch to your offhand for another 10-20. Try to make the switch as quickly as possible, but be sure to not make the switch right between your legs. Rather, turn your shoulders to the side you are switching to first, to shield from defenders, and then make the switch. Push yourself to do the drill as quickly as possible to improve handling skills.
10 Minute Cradle
Push yourself for 10 minutes straight to cradle and stick handle. Make sure that both hands are being utilized equally. Work on cradling in more “awkward” positions as well, like up high or down low. Every few minutes during this drill, come up to the triple threat position to practice your transition to shooting quickly. If your space allows it, you can also work on cradling and switching hands as you air dodge, similar to what a boxer would do as they move around the ring and throw punches.
Stick Tricks and Freestyle
While you’ll probably never use these moves and tricks in a game (your coach would probably bench you!), they will help immensely with your stick control, ball handling, and feel for where the ball is in the head. Get creative with the tricks and moves that you try out. You can even mix in basketball type moves like passing the stick between your legs or behind you back. Check out the video below by MLL stars Mikey and Casey Powell to get some ideas on new tricks to try out!
Ask any lacrosse player who is playing in college or the pros, and they will tell you that they’ve spent countless hours pounding a ball of a wall, working on their passing and shooting accuracy, as well as their eye-hand coordination with receiving the ball. Start off close to the wall and work on one hand passing and receiving. This drill will help strengthen your wrist and forearm muscles. Take a few steps back and begin throwing and catching on your dominant side, then switching to your off hand. Next, throw from your dominant side across your body and catch on your off hand side. Be sure to alternate between throwing and catching on both sides. This cross-body action will help you get accustomed to receiving a bad pass and getting in position quickly to shoot or pass. Every time you throw a ball to the wall, you should pick out one spot and constantly aim to hit that exact spot.
Work these drills and tips into your preseason to make sure that when you hit the field, your game is as sharp as it was at the end of last season. Whether you’re looking to make the varsity team, solidify your spot in the starting lineup, or are getting ready to impress college coaches during your senior season, the skills you work on with these drills will help improve your stick handling and ball control.
Have a drill that you do that we left out? Share it with us in the comments!