Intermediate level players, much more so than beginners, need to start concentrating on their shooting ability. Shooting is like other fundamentals in lacrosse. The more the player works at it, the better he will be. Most of the best players in the world grew up with a lacrosse goal in their backyard or in a nearby park, and spent hours a day shooting by themselves.
The most critical part of shooting comes from something that was learned at the beginner level, which is to get the players’ hands away from his body. If he has worked on passing with one hand for a couple years, then he should really not have any problems with this. This is why building a solid foundation and learning to throw one-handed as a beginner is so helpful. It develops a throwing motion that is great for both passing and shooting.
Time & Room
With shooting, the intermediate level player has to learn to incorporate some other motions into his passing technique. When shooting with time and room (standing still from outside) the player wants to take a big step with his opposite foot. So, if he is right-handed, then he wants to step with his left foot. As discussed, he wants to extend his hands away from his body and get his left elbow up as high as possible. He then wants to twist his torso as far to the right as possible. A shooter at this point, with the right technique, is like a loaded coil or spring. As he takes that big step with his left foot, his torso uncoils and twists back to his left, and his wrists snap his stick over the top. The players’ hands should be about a foot apart, so his bottom hand is on the butt end of the stick, and the top hand is about a quarter of the way up the shaft (about the length of the forearm). This is a general guide. It is important that the shooter finds the most comfortable hand position for his individual biomechanics.
GRIP IT AND RIP IT
When a player starts practicing his shooting each day, he should always start off by aiming at the middle of the goal and then working his way out to the corners. Too many players try to pick corners too much and they end up missing the goal in practice and in games. Remind your shooters that it is better to take a good shot and make the goalie save the ball than for them to miss the goal. Also, as they start to be able to aim for corners, teach them to shoot the ball six inches in from each pipe. So, if the player is trying to hit the top right corner, they should hit six inches down from the cross bar and six inches to the left of the right pipe. This gives the shooter some margin of error to work with.
The Over-hand Shot
The most important shot that an intermediate level player really needs to work on is the over-hand shot. This will develop correct shooting technique for later on. It is also the most effective shot in lacrosse because it is accurate and hard for the goalie to read. With an overhand shot, a player can shoot at any part of the goal. He can go high to high, high to hip level, or high to low. The player can also hide his stick behind his head as he winds up for an overhand shot and shoot with time and room, on the run, and in close.
The only real changes that occur when shooting on the run is that there is less leg power involved. The shooter must get more of his power from snapping his wrists over and turning his torso. One tip that helps young players a great deal when learning to shoot on the run is to have their shoulder pointed towards the goal. This makes them really turn their body into their shot and keeps them from fading away and shooting off their back foot. It is also important to have intermediate players concentrate on running down the pipes towards the goal. They will take more accurate and powerful shots with better angels than if they fade away from the goal. When learning to shoot on the run, have players start slow and work on timing their shots in stride instead of trying to shoot at full speed.
Shooting in Close
The overhand shot is also great for finishing, which means shooting in close (anywhere within 5 yards close to the goal). Stress to your players when finishing that accuracy, not power, is what scores goals. It is also very effective to shoot overhand when finishing because the player can hide the stick behind his head for a quick and deceptive shot. Many young players drop their sticks when they are finishing and get stuffed by the goalie. For all of these reasons, the overhand shot is the best shot for an intermediate level player to work on. Once he has mastered this shot, then he can move on to shooting sidearm and underhand at the advanced level.
- Keep your hands free from your body with your elbows up
- Wind up your torso to generate more power upon release
- Step toward the goal driving off your back leg. For shooting on the run, time shots in stride and dip your shoulder towards the goal
- Follow through toward your target