How To Get Better At Lacrosse:
1) Wall Ball
It’s no secret that the ability to throw and catch the ball is the key to being a successful lacrosse player. There are tons of different routines, so players should feel free to get creative and have fun with how they train. In my opinion, the wall teaches 3 things when used correctly:
-The weight of the ball. How fast does the ball travel in the air? How much does it drop? What does it feel like to catch or throw a hard/soft pass? Getting reps on the wall from various angles, distances, and with different techniques teaches our kids how to read the ball in the air, manipulate passing situations, and handle poor passes when they come their way.
-Hand transitions. During competitive play, kids will need to be comfortable handling the ball under pressure and operate within a finite window of time. The players who most efficiently transition their grip on the stick from a position where the ball is protected from checks and physical contact into one where they can throw will be able to play at the highest level. Those who struggle to adjust their grip either won’t be able to get any passes off or won’t be able to protect the ball after a catch. While playing wall ball, it’s really important to spend time catching with the top hand all the way up holding the plastic of the head. That way, in order to throw, the player will need to slide their hands into a lower position. Just getting that rep over and over will dramatically increase success on the field, and ultimately can almost unilaterally make the game more fun. Advance players can experiment with catching, switching to one hand, making a move, etc before throwing. Hugely important facet here.
-Early eyes. As players advance through the ranks, it will become increasingly important to be able to play with “early eyes” and look away from the ball while it’s still in the air so that they can read the defense. At the youth level, we teach them to keep their eye on the ball. Unfortunately, if they spend too much time waiting to catch they may miss an opportunity to make an extra pass, avoid a rushing defender, etc. Playing wall ball is a great way to practice catching while looking away once you’ve judged the flight of the ball. You cannot keep your eye on the ball and be any kind of decent player beyond the u11 age.
Example wall ball routine. There are plenty more where this came from!
2) Athletic development
Perhaps even more important than stickwork is general athletic ability. The most balanced, agile players win the game. They’re first to the ground balls, they get open more, and they fare better in 1v1 scenarios. At the youth level, raw power and speed will vary. You can train those with age appropriate resistance work, hill sprints, and playing other sports, but it’s a lot easier to work on balance and agility.
Here’s what I recommend:
-Change of direction drills. Work on your 5-10-5 shuttle, nfl 3 cone agility, w Drill, and any kind of action where you’re sprinting and then changing direction. C.O.D. is all about dropping your hips and playing with the right shin angles. Google any of the drills above and you can find lots of video examples.
-Shuttle runs. There’s no substitue for pure cardiovascular fitness. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. Stick skills, composure, and athletic ability all drop when kids aren’t in shape. To that end, Shuttle runs are one of the best ways to get in shape. Starting from the endline run to the restraining line and back, then the midline and back, then the far restraining line and back. It’s boring, but it’s effective. Championship level middle school teams feature players who can run 3-4 of these without significant problems.
3) Watch lacrosse. The greatest source of inspiration for kids is what they see on tv and their phones. Rather than try to get them off of those screens totally, try to utilize them by getting the kids to watch videos of ncaa games, PLL games, player highlights, etc. Most of the time, just seeing something cool will get them to pick up their sticks and go try stuff outside. Imagination is the key to being a creative player. You can’t be what you can’t see!
NCAA Championship: Virginia vs Maryland Highlights
PLL Championship Highlights
Hope this stuff is helpful and looking forward to the days to come!