Perhaps the most important skill in any successful lacrosse player's bag is stick work. Mastering control of the ball and stick with each hand is essential to advancing to the next level of competition, whether that's high school lacrosse, collegiate or professional. Building confidence in your ability to stickhandle will trickle down to nearly every aspect of your offensive game. Your ability to cradle, switch hands and deliver accurate passes with either hand will make you an unstoppable offensive force.
Luckily, your can drastically improve your fundamental stick skills with a handful of drills that you can do anywhere, including your back yard, your driveway or even your bedroom (though if you're doing these indoors, we suggest picking up a Swax Lax Soft Weighted Lacrosse Training Ball.)
The Importance of Improving Your Stick Skills
In the sport of Lacrosse, coordination and athleticism will only take you so far. At higher levels, the game can become technically sophisticated and those players who have better technique can excel beyond the limitations of their physical ability. For youth players just beginning to learn how to play lacrosse, it’s imperative to focus on the proper mechanics and build the fundamentals that will allow for success down the line.
The following is a series of stick skills drills from professional player and trainer Martin Bowes of Compete Lacrosse Academy. While the drills can be done just about anywhere, don't let their simplicity fool you. Building your stick skills with these concepts can be a game changer.
Flip to Catch Progression
So for the first part of this progression, we're just going to toss the ball up and back down. What we're trying to do is get spin on the ball by pushing our hand away and snapping the wrist. Don't allow yourself to just pull straight up, push away, and then snap the wrist. The second part to this progression is crucial because what we'll be doing is setting up our triple threat position at the top.
So we cradle from high to low and back up at the bottom. Our thumb can be on top and at the top our thumbs should be on the inside with our wrist back.
The last part to this progression is what I would call flip to catch. So we flip it from that bottom position. We change our grip and then we catch. The other thing that we want to try to emphasize here is training ourselves to step forward as we receive passes. This is very, very important as we want to get good at catching, stepping to the ball.
Bottom Hand Only Low Cradle
This low bottom hand only cradle will be extremely challenging for your grip and your forearm strength. This is an incredible drill to improve ball control. What we're trying to do is get the face of the stick to rotate 180 degrees while maintaining good ball control. You can also get creative with this drill and try cradling in different patterns and relation to your body. Be sure to try this drill using both your left hand and your right hand. Even if you're a righty and you don't think you'll end up using your left hand in this way, it will help you to build your confidence as an overall lacrosse player to build both the grip strength and the forearm strength of both our right and left hands.
Top Hand Only Triple Threat
As simple as this may seem, mastering this particular skill is going to give you more control in a number of situations and will make you a more well-rounded lacrosse player. What we want to focus on is the face of our stick rotating without the butt end of our stick moving too much. So as we do this top hand, only cradle, we want to rotate the face of our stick without letting the butt end start moving too much to the left or too much to the right. The ability to keep our stick in a relatively quiet or calm position even as we cradle will give us the ability to make a play such as pass, shoot, or dodge at any moment. This is why the triple threat position is so important in the sport of lacrosse.
Around the World Flip to Catch
This drill is challenging because we're tossing the ball to ourselves from behind our own back. So as we bring our stick across our face and behind our own vision, that's the moment that we're asked to toss this ball to ourselves. As you get better at this, see if you can limit how high you throw the ball, keeping it real close to you as it comes around. And as you're just getting started, feel free to toss this ball higher, which will give you more time to make the catch.
Side Wall Stalls
Side Wall Stalls is a super fun drill that can help us get softer hands. It starts by taking the ball and placing it on the side wall so you can find the balance point of your stick from there. Lightly toss the ball up and see if you could catch it back in that same position. As you get the hang of this, feel free to start rotating the face of your stick 180 degrees and catching the ball on the other side of your stick, allowing you to stay loose, particularly with your hands and your upper body for this simple yet extremely challenging drill. As the ball goes from side to side, we're focused on bringing our hands and our stick down with the ball, having a soft hands as possible. So if we can hear that ball hitting the stick, that's not ideal.From there, we can progress this to hitting the ball on the sidewall and trying to catch it afterwards.