Lacrosse is a fast-paced and full-contact sport, so practice these drills to stay ahead of the competition.
Lacrosse is an ancient game that’s counted as the fastest growing team sport in the United States. According to U.S. Lacrosse, participation in the sport grew 77% between 2006 and 2012. The sport itself is also an incredible workout. There’s a bit of a learning curve when getting started, but we’ve got the right beginner lacrosse drills to get you going.
Full-contact men’s lacrosse requires a stick, gloves, shoulder pads, helmet, elbow pads, cleats and cup. Many lacrosse drills for beginners only require a ball, stick and gloves. Gloves aren’t always required, but practicing your stick skills with them on will give you a better feel for the stick during a game. You’ll also want to wear a helmet even if it’s your first time practicing passing. Lacrosse balls are hard and heavy, so it’s definitely advised to prepare for an errant or misjudged toss.
Once you get into partner lacrosse drills that involve stick checks, it’s time to invest in a full set of pads. Lacrosse players are no strangers to bruises, but the pads will at least soften the blows.
Cradling is the act of rotating the stick when in possession of the ball to keep it from falling out while running. Additionally, the technique is used to evade defenders. First, practice cradling with both hands on each side. Then, with each hand solo, protecting with the other arm and your body. You can squeeze in cradling practice nearly anywhere. Once you feel comfortable cradling in place, start to practice while jogging and doing windsprints.
Throw and Catch
Lacrosse is based on ball movement. Getting used to the way you need to move your stick to receive the ball and throw it accurately takes practice and repetition. Eventually, however, you’ll come to think of the stick more as an extension of your body then a piece of equipment.
Wall ball lacrosse drills are exactly what they sound like: throw a ball against a wall and catch it. Even the pros do them to stay sharp, since it’s the simplest way to work on form and focus. Pick a spot on the wall and try to hit it repeatedly, and start simple: throw and catch 15 with your right hand, then 15 with your left. As you get more comfortable, you’ll naturally feel able to get more creative.
With a Partner
When playing catch with a partner, aim to pass the ball so they can catch it right next to their ear (in the “throwing box”). That way, when they receive it, they’ll be positioned to pass or shoot immediately. As your skills develop, try jogging in a straight line alongside one another and playing catch while on the move. Make sure to work on throwing and catching with both hands.
The ball hits the ground often in lacrosse. When it does, it’s a free-for-all. Ground ball drills are a staple of lacrosse teams everywhere, so they’re an important building block in developing your lacrosse skills. Keep your butt low and shield the ball with your lead foot and body. Practice running through, quickly getting the head of the stick up into your throwing box so you can pass if necessary as soon as you have the ball.
Roll a ball out in front of you and practice scooping it up and running through. To switch it up, and practice for situations when you’ll need to get the ball free from a crowd, set a ball on the ground and run to it. Either kick it to freedom and go scoop it up, or use the head of your stick to either smack it to one side or back through your legs along the ground and turn to pick it up.
With a Partner
Go back to back with your partner with the ball on the ground between both of your legs. When one of you says go, fight to box one another out and scoop the ball.
Everyone plays defense in lacrosse. Think of it like playing defense in basketball, but with legal pushing. The most important part of defense is positioning. You always want to be able to recover to between the player you’re guarding and the goal when you throw a check with your body or stick. Move your feet quickly to keep them underneath you.
Work your footwork. Set up four cones in the shape of a square on the ground. Starting at one cone, sprint forward along one side of the square to another corner. Drop into position, and shuffle sideways to the cone to your right or left while practicing throwing poke checks. Then backpedal to the cone behind you, and shuffle sideways in the other direction while checking to complete the square.
While checking, sit down in your hips slightly to make sure you’re ready to open your body and move backwards if necessary.
With a Partner
Put it all together. Play for a ground ball until someone picks it up. The player who didn’t get the ground ball is now on defense. Play one-on-one if you have a goal or just try to get past one another. The player on offense should practice cradling, protecting the ball and looking to pass, while the defender maintains positioning and practices keeping good distance and bothering the ballcarrier’s hands with the head of the stick.
Know any other basic lacrosse tips or techniques for beginners? Let us know in the comments below or @DegreeMen on Twitter.
Cover Photo Credit: Minnesota National Guard / Flickr.com