Intermediate players have to make an effort to continue improving their catching skills. There is no limit to how good a player can get at catching a ball. Here are some advanced aspects of catching that intermediate players have to learn:
The first is to learn how to catch across their body. Not every pass is going to be perfect, and sometimes players are going to have to adjust their stick to catch it. If a player is right-handed, then he is going to have to get his bottom hand, his left hand, over to his right hip and his top hand, his right hand, over to his left shoulder.
Catch the egg, but not with hands of stone
To accomplish this, the player should bring the open face of his stick across his face, receive the ball, and bring the stick back to the ready position just off his shoulder. If a player consistently drops the ball on off side passing, he may need to be reminded to give with the pass. For passes that are out of reach, it is sometimes necessary to switch hands. Therefore, it is important that intermediate players learn how to switch hands quickly to catch stray passes as well.
One catching technique that should be worked into line drills is catching over the shoulder. First, this should be learned while standing still and having another player throw the ball. If a player is right-handed, then he wants to have his stick head facing backwards over his right shoulder. The player passing the ball should lob it over his right shoulder. The player catching the ball should look back over his right shoulder and let the ball come into his stick and give with the ball gently. Many players, as they are learning this skill, catch the ball the wrong way. If they are right-handed, they try to turn their body and catch it over their left shoulder. The problem with doing this is that once they catch the ball, they have to turn their entire body up field. This leaves them exposed to getting hit with a body-check blind side. If a player catches the ball in the correct manner, then all he has to do is turn his head quickly and look up field. Note: Players should always get in the habit of turning their head up field first and let their shoulders follow. If done properly, this allows the player to avoid getting hit (legally) on his blind side.
Intermediate players should also learn to catch under pressure. When the ball is thrown around the perimeter (which means when the offense is set up in a formation and the ball is being moved around from one player to the next) players are going to have to catch the ball with some pressure on them. The first thing that players need to be able to do is catch with both hands. This is extremely important as a good player always catches the ball with his stick to the outside of the field. If a player catches the ball with his stick to the inside of the field (or with his stick towards the goal) then he is exposed to getting the ball checked away. That is why intermediate players should learn to catch off of a V-cut. With a V-cut, the player trying to get open takes a few hard steps towards the goal and then pops back out to receive the pass. Young basketball players will likely be aware of this skill. It is also important to remember the player needs to have his stick in his outside hand, so the player passing the ball can throw it where it cannot get checked away or picked off.
Another skill that intermediate players have to learn is catching while they are cutting to the goal. This really comes down to learning how to focus on the ball. It also helps if players learn to “choke up” on their sticks when they catch in tight to the goal. This means that they can bring both their bottom and top hands up on their shaft. After they catch the ball inside, they just have to shoot it quickly and accurately. Getting a lot of power on a shot from close to the crease is unnecessary. The most important thing though, is first learning to catch and handle the ball in these tight areas on the field.
Finally, the last catching technique that an intermediate player should learn is catching a feed for an outside shot. When a player catches a pass before getting ready to take an outside shot, he needs to learn to catch the ball behind him so he can shoot right away. If a player is right-handed, and he is catching a pass and knows he is open for an outside shot, then he needs to get his arms extended and ready to receive the ball. As the ball enters his stick, he should give with it so that his stick is behind his body ready to release a shot. If he puts his stick out in front of him, cradles the ball, and brings his stick back to shoot, it gives the defenders time to cover him. But, if he learns to catch the ball behind him and shoot it in one motion, he will get off many more shots and have more scoring opportunities. It also makes it harder on the goalie because it is difficult to react to a quick pass and shot.
Much like the new passing techniques, all of these catching techniques can be learned while throwing against the wall or with a partner. There are also a number of drills and games that focus on these various aspects of catching the ball in different situations.
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