These individual lacrosse stick skills can be done on one’s own or with friends to improve basic stick fundamentals and ball familiarity. They are most applicable to younger beginner or intermediate players. This is the script for our Sunday Skills off-season sessions.
Toss and Catch
Each player has a ball. Hold the stick in one hand, 1/3 of the way down from the head, with knuckles up. Follow the progression as applicable to age and skill by completing sets. Repeat the progression with the other hand.
- Basic – With the ball in the pocket, using the stick, toss the ball up and catch the ball in the pocket.
- Catch on Back – Toss the ball up, turn the stick so the pocket faces down and catch the ball on the back of the pocket. Flip the ball up and turn the stick to catch in the pocket.
- Toss and Spin – Toss the ball up, spin the stick and catch back in the pocket.
- Catch and Spin – Basic toss and catch, but after the catch, spin the stick with the ball in the pocket and toss and catch again spinning in between each toss and catch.
- Toss Across – With the ball in the pocket, toss the ball across the body, move the stick over (in front) and catch the ball. Keep the stick across the body and flip back to the original position.
- Toss Across Catch Behind – Toss across the body, but move the stick behind the back to catch the ball.
- Toss and Move – Continue any of these progressions while walking and then jogging.
One Handed Passing
Set up rings (hula hoops) or targets at least 15 to 20 yards away. With one hand on the stick (near the middle) toss into the rings or target using a stick rotation from the wrist. After a series of repetition add the bottom hand so they can feel the mechanics they have been forced to use with one hand and also gain greater accuracy and distance with the bottom hand. For fun, keep score for balls in the ring or closest to the pin.
A common technical flaw among new and young players is to keep their arms in too tight and throw with a “pushing” motion. This exercise helps eliminate the “push” motion and get the player used to the desired lever-action throwing mechanics. The rings need to be far enough away that it is impossible to reach with a “push” so they can see the effect of proper stick motion. This will also encourage dropping the top hand down. Keeping the top hand too high limits the range of motion and causes passes to go into the ground.
Cradling on the Move (Red Light Green Light)
This is a simple cradling and conditioning drill. Cradle while running on “green” and stop on “red”. This is a full speed race and the focus is to use good technique to keep and protect the ball. Watch for proper stick height and position with ear / nose rotation with proper wrist rolling without being “wristy”. Add “yellow” to indicate a hand switch while on the run.
Cradle and Dodge Cones
This is a basic cradle and dodge drill that focuses on cradling on the move, switching hands, and protecting the ball. Set out a series of cones in a line 5 to 10 yards between each cone. Players take a running start before the first cone and cradle on the move. Upon reaching the first cone, perform a “pull dodge” by planting the same side foot that the stick is held, pulling the stick across the face to the opposite side, swing outside foot in sync,and turning the shoulder to the defender to protect the ball, switch hands and step with new outside foot and regain line. Cradle to next cone and repeat the dodge (to the opposite side) continuing that pattern through all the cones.
A player can’t do enough wall ball. While a rebounder is ideal to simulate more realistic passing and catching velocity, often a wall will have to do. Here are links to two wall ball routines with videos.
Ground Ball Races
Place a ball for each player 10 yards away. Player scoops ball at full speed, cradles, and sprints another 10 yards to finish line. Repeat.
Ground Ball Relays
If the group is large enough the Ground Ball Races can be done in a relay race using two or more even groups of players. Place a ball for each player 10 yards away. A player scoops ball at full speed, cradles, and sprints another 10 yards to a marker (or line) and sets the ball down. The player continues (without a ball) another 10 yards to a marker (or line) and stops to do an activity like 5 push ups or hula hoops. Once completed they reverse the course, picking up the ground ball 10 yards away, cradling the next 10 yards and replacing the ball at that spot and racing to the start / finish line upon which a teammate is released.