The Best Wall Ball Drills for Beginner Lacrosse Players
Wall ball is the ideal way to practice basic lacrosse techniques such as shooting, passing and catching all while working in cradling. Wall ball allows you to get in tons of repetitions without depending on a partner. As a youth lacrosse player just starting out, playing wall ball is the number one way to quickly improve your stick skills.
The Importance of Following a Wall Ball Routine
While tossing against a wall is the best way to build your stick skills on your own, mindlessly passing and catching can get boring pretty quickly. Having a structured wall ball routine will make things more interesting and will help you improve in a more efficient manner. The following is a guided routine from professional player and trainer Martin Bowes of Compete Lacrosse Academy. Do this routine every day, but don't expect to get better right away. Improving stick skills is a gradual process and the only way to see real, tangible improvement is by hitting the wall on a daily basis.
Throw, Catch and Switch Hands
Throw, catch, switch hands is a stick work drill where you'll be continuously changing the side of your body that you're releasing and catching from. So once you receive the pass, we're working on exchanging to the other hand into a release on the other side of our body. We're working on throwing and catching for both righty and lefty and the process of changing hands is the crucial aspect which will allow us to be as efficient as possible. The efficiency of this drill comes from the process of catch, exchange, release. We want to be catching into the exchange and exchanging into the release. To add a more advanced touch to this drill, you can start changing the release points so we can go from overhand into side arm, and then from side arm down to underhand releases on both lefty and righty to challenge yourself as more advanced stick work drill.
In this drill, we'll be alternating between throwing normal and pump faking, so we want to try to pump fake right into that next throw. The key here is in the pump fake itself. We want to minimize extra motions so that we can be as efficient as possible. When we pump fake. Let's avoid coming forward to backward and make this more about an up and down motion. As you'll see when the stick is pump faked, it does not come in front of my head. It stays back behind, which allows me to minimize the recoil time. So if I get the goalie or the defender to bite on that fake, my next throw or shot is that much quicker.
For this wall ball drill, we'll be focusing on behind the backs. This can be a polarizing release as some coaches believe it's only for flash, but I believe that this is very, very functional. The first thing we want to understand is that there's a lot of different ways that you could throw behind the back pass, so to start, try releasing it really close to your head, a little bit further away, lower down and try out some different types of releases to see what works for you. As you get more comfortable, we can progress this drill by alternating between behind the back and overhead. As we're alternating, we're trying to set the next throw up so each of these catches can initiate the next release immediately. One of the keys to mastering behind the back passing is understanding that you want to reverse the roles of your hands where when you throw a normal pass, you push with your top hand and pull with your bottom, but on a behind the back, you're going to pull with your top hand and push with your bottom along with rotating your upper body the opposite direction.
Quick sticks is a drill where we'll focus on catching right into our next throw, so we're not going to cradle at any point during this drill. Our main focus is efficiency, which means we're trying to have that ball spend as little time in our stick as possible. In order to get efficient at this drill, what we'll have to do is catch the ball further behind our head than we are used to. So as that ball enters the mesh, we're already initiating the next throw. Whereas if we were to catch the ball out in front of our body, we would be forced to then cradle it back to a throwing position. In this case, we're able to receive our pass and immediately initiate that next throw.
Catching Bad Passes
Catching bad passes is something that we'll have to get good at. If we want to play at a high level for a long time, there's only so many passes that your teammates will give you that will be good passes, so we might as well practice catching the bad ones. For this first portion, what we'll focus on is catching off stick side. So you're going to throw yourself a pass to your off-stick side. Without changing hands, getting your stick to windshield wiper across and receive and try to get it back in one crate. For the second part to this, what we'll focus on is catching passes that are down by our feet. In this case, it's important that we challenge ourselves to throw passes that are bouncing back at us at awkward angles. So not just down by your feet, but even on your off stick side as if a goalie, we're working on off stick low. It's important that we try stepping to the ball and that we move our feet and get used to catching these bad passes while we are moving.
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