Cradling Drills

Since stick skills are the most important thing for beginners to learn, most of the drills and games that follow focus on stick work. Obviously, another important aspect of teaching young players is allowing them to have fun. So, coaches have to find a balance of working on their players’ stick-skills, letting them play lacrosse and having fun.

THE FIRST STEP TO BECOMING A COMPLETE PLAYER!

Most young players simply want to scrimmage the whole time and it is important to remind them that scrimmaging will become a whole lot more fun when everyone can catch and throw. It is also beneficial to use games that incorporate fundamentals so young players do not get bored doing line drills all day.

Cradling Drills

The first thing that a beginner should learn to do is cradle the ball in his stick. This is one of the reasons why beginning girls players often advance much faster than boys players. The first thing girl coaches teach is to cradle and be able to carry the ball. The easiest way to do this is to have them line up along the sideline, side by side. Have everyone jog together about 20 yards using different cradling techniques. The first cradle that they should learn is the two-hand upright cradle. Emphasize to them that the top-hand does all the work cradling the head of the stick in and out, and the bottom hand is loose on the butt-end of the stick.

It is important for them to learn that cradling is necessary for them to get the ball in the “sweet spot” for a shot or pass. The upright cradle is the most important and fundamental cradle to learn as you can always be ready to throw or shoot when your stick is by your head. The second cradle they should learn is the two-hand underhand cradle, where both hands carry their stick at their hips. This is the most effective cradle for midfielders when running with the ball up and down the field, but makes an inexperienced or less aware player vulnerable to stick-checks.

The third cradle that they should learn is the one-hand upright cradle. This cradle is important for learning to protect the ball when being covered by a defenseman. When using the one-hand upright cradle, the player holds his stick right under the plastic on the head of the stick. To protect the ball, the player must hold the stick up by his head and hold his opposite arm out to guard against stick-checks. For each of these cradles, have all the players jog across the field in unison working on one cradle at a time. If they are having trouble with a particular cradle, have them try it standing still until they get the hang of it. Another good exercise to have them do while they are standing still is to have them start with one-hand on their stick, right at the top of the shaft, with the stick at their hips, parallel to the ground. They then lift the stick up to their chest (with the ball in the pocket) and turn it upside down so the head is facing the ground. They then cradle the ball back down to their hips. This little exercise shows them how cradling keeps the ball in the pocket, even if the stick is upside down for a short period of time. It also gives them a good feel for cradling.

One thing that beginner players do all the time is that they have their stick-head face out from their body when they are trying to cradle the ball. Obviously, with the stick facing out, the ball is much more prone to fall out of the pocket. Beginner players should learn that it is important to keep the face of their stick facing their own head when they are cradling. This will keep the ball in their pocket much more effectively. The other mistake that beginners make is that they try to cradle the ball too hard. Teach them that a cradle needs to be a subtle, short movement in the stick. The stick head only needs to move a few inches back and forth. A final problem that a lot of beginners have is that they have no pockets in their sticks. Many sticks that kids buy in stores are strung up too tightly. Simply loosening the sidewall strings (the strings that attach the mesh to the sides of the stick) and the end string (the string that attaches the mesh to the bottom of the stick) can greatly help a novice player when learning to cradle.

KEYS

  1. Keep a loose grip
  2. Cradle with your fingers
  3. Cradle smoothly
  4. Keep the ball in the sweet spot of your pocket

Some great tips to get you going:

Possessing the Ball

When in possession of ball, make the defense man play your stick - watch his stick - the position of it will determine the direction of your feed and the type of dodge you might try.

Hard Work

Hard work is great, but hard and efficient work is even better.

Teamwork is Key

Always remember that teamwork is the key to a good attack.

Don’t Rush at Him

Don't rush at a man when riding - particularly behind the goal. Force him to pass - force him in the direction where there is help. Talk all the time and run hard. The success of an attack depends on their riding ability and their desire to have the ball.

Time Your Cuts

Time your cuts, don't cut if the man with the ball is not watching or not in position to pass.

Away From the Defense

In moving the ball around the circle, make all passes sharp, short, and to the outside, away from the defense man.

Take Quality Shots

Shoot plenty, but only if you feel you have a good shot. Shoot to get hot, shoot to stay hot.

Keep Proper Spacing

Never stand so close together that one defense can cover two offense.

Make Him Play You

Make your defenseman play you and you alone every second you are in the game. Keep moving all the time so that he must center his attention on you an not be in position to help out his fellow defensemen.

Pick a Corner

Place all shots, usually for a far corner, and shoot hard. When within five yards of the goal, the shot should be for a top corner.

After the Clear

After the ball has been cleared, if you have a wide open opportunity to dodge, do it. If you are sure a man is open, pass to him, otherwise settle the ball down and let your attack get set up. Remember, after a clear the midfielders will need time to catch their breath. Middies rest on offense, not defense, Control The Ball!

Feed Passes

All feed passes must be thrown crsiply and accurately. If it's a bad pass, do your best and make a great catch to help your buddy out.

Make Good Passes

Take pains to make every pass a good pass.

Dodging

Never try to dodge when men are in position to back up.

Ride Hard

When you lose the ball, ride it. The close attack must ride and ride hard until the ball is past midfield.

Outside Shooting

On all long shots, a man must be on the crease.

Don’t Force it

Never try to force in, with the ball or by a pass, if the defense is drawn in. Pull them out first.

Balance the Field

Always keep your field balanced in order that you stay in better position to back up, and give your teammates space to work in.

Back Up shots

Always have one, preferably two, men behind the goal to back up shots.

Zigs and Zags

Zig your cuts, fake left - go right, fake right - go left. Don't always run at the same speed, change of pace is a very effective method of getting open.