Lacrosse: Developing the Game Changer (Skills & Drills)
By; Ryan Kirkpatrick, USA-W,
Champion’s QUEST Athlete Academy APC
Part 1: I can run and Cut, but can’t catch or throw
The sport of lacrosse is a dynamic sport that requires one to not only be a great athlete, but to also have the ability to catch and throw. Just like in basketball before you even have the thought in your mind that you can handle the ball like Allen Iverson you must be able to dribble, and I don’t mean dribbling with your head down watching your hand contact the ball every time. The one key factor that separates lacrosse players at any level is their stick skills. If you cannot catch or throw then you better find a nice spot on the bench and get comfortable, it’s going to be a long season.
If you’re just starting or have been playing the great sport of lacrosse for several years catching and throwing must become so natural (it is like breathing) you don’t think about it. This requires diligence and commitment to put in the time required to have the stick dialed in. With that also comes focus. I have witnessed this hundreds of times even at the college level where poor focus resulted in turnovers, bad passes, and the infamous phantom checks. Focusing and being prepared will give you the advantage because a player with a slick stick passing and catching is a dangerous player.
Now that we have an understanding on the importance of catching and throwing lets break down the two key elements of the game.
Catching requires you to have the head of the stick on your ear (right next to your helmet stick up) with one hand up at the throat of the stick with the other down towards the butt end. Like catching a baseball with a glove watch the ball’s trajectory to gage where to move your body and the stick and get into position to catch the ball. Once your catching skills have improved as a result of practice you will be able to feel the weight of the ball. Feeling the weight will tell you without looking if you have the ball. When you are catching the ball you want to have soft hands , give with the ball like your catching an egg. If you are ridged your stick can seem like a tennis racquet with the ball bouncing out at every attempt to catch the ball.
KEYS TO CATCHING:
- Stick up ready to receive a pass
- Hands at throat and butt end of stick
- Watch ball’s trajectory anticipate where it will be
- Feel ball in your stick
- Soft Hands, give with the ball
Now that we have the catching basics down let move on to throwing. Throwing is not as easy as it looks and too often two mistakes occur; the catapult and the shot put. The catapult happens when the ball is thrown off the shoulder in a catapult fashion, and the shot putt where the ball is pushed forward. Both of these strategies will result in poor passes or shots if the same technique is used for both. The throwing motion should start with the stick up at approximately 45 degrees with head face up and hands up away from your body. Whatever hand you have on top should be the dominant throwing arm with the bottom hand on the stick as a guide. Using your legs to push off and pivot as well as your upper body rotation to put power behind the pass. Putting it all together.
KEYS TO THROWING
- Stick up hands away from body
- Step the direction your throwing
- Rotate upper body
- Snap top hand
- Follow through the pass
With the keys to catching and throwing down we can now introduce some drills to help perfect the most crucial part of the game. We will start with the most basic and fundamental drills that can be done anywhere there is a wall.
WALL BALL: Stand five to seven yards from a wall. Pick a spot on the wall to hit that is a foot or two above your head. Step and throw, once it hits the wall the ball will bounce back towards you. Catch the ball and repeat with both right and left hand.
WALL BALL: wallballvideo
- 20 Right
- 20 Left
- 20 Split (Alternating left and right hand every pass)
- 25 Right
- 25 Left
- 25 Split
- 25 Right
- 25 Split
- 25 Left
- 25 Split