5 Tips to Improve Your Stick Skills...
Are you new to the game? Think it’s impossible to get elite stick skills? Are you a youth coach that wants to teach his/her kids how to properly throw and catch? Then this article is for you! Whether you are a new player or more experienced, you should still check out this list to make sure you are following these rules. Heck, I recently had a habit of doing #5 on the list. Eventually, you may get sloppy with your wallball and hit a slump. If wondering how to break this, I guarantee you are not doing one of the five things on this list! Without further ado, let’s get into this.
Point Front Foot at Target
Ironically, the first thing on this list doesn’t involve your stick. It involves your footwork. When throwing the ball, you need to have your toes (in front foot) pointed towards your target. This helps with accuracy.
This is what good quarterbacks do. I’m linking a video of Ben Roethlisberger’s 2018 highlights. Watch how his front foot is always pointed at the receiver he’s targeting. Almost all these passes are right where they need to be. Just focus on his passing in the pocket. His footwork may be a little sloppy when he’s forced to escape the pocket, but that happens to everyone (even NFL stars). Incorporate proper footwork into your throws, and you’ll be a lot more accurate. Roethlisberger’s Throwing Footwork.
Don’t Watch Ball Go into Your Stick
New lacrosse players tend to do this. I get it. You are new to the game. You’re a little uncomfortable with catching the tiny, rubber ball, so you check to make sure the ball is in the net. Here’s the thing: watching the ball go into your stick wastes time and will get you laid out. Admittedly, I did this my sophomore year in high school. I know you are making sure you don’t drop the ball.
Yet, when you are looking the ball into your stick, you aren’t able to see your open teammates. Watch this clip. If you do, you’ll notice the players catching the ball never watch the ball go into their stick. They just know they’ve caught it based on feel.
The only way to break this habit is to force yourself not to do this. Take your time when breaking this habit. Don’t rush through your wallball. Take a couple seconds to get a feel for the ball in the mesh. Don’t get frustrated if you drop the ball lots when starting. Just throw some easy lob passes to get used to this. I promise, after dedicating yourself to this, you’ll break the habit!
Cushion Ball into Net
Another bad habit young players make. When you catch the ball, you do not keep your stick still. You actually give a little on your stick. Hard to explain over text, but when a ball is coming your way, you slowly bring your stick back while catching the ball. This keeps the ball from bouncing out of your stick! Watch how this guy catches the ball. You’ll notice he is pulling his stick back when catching the ball. That is cushioning the ball!
By doing this, you will stand out on the field amongst newer/younger players. If you can’t do it at first, don’t worry. Basically, every single lacrosse player failed to do this at first. Paul Rabil and Kyle Harrison had to learn this; therefore, don’t feel bad if you can’t do this right away.
Catapult Ball, Don’t Push
When new, a lot of guys push the ball out of their stick. By doing this, your passes will have less accuracy and power. You are also working muscles you shouldn’t be using. Your shoulders, biceps, and triceps should not be doing the work. Instead, you should be using physics.
By using a catapult-like motion, you get more air under the ball. This will allow you to launch the ball. Watch Rabil’s video on throwing. You’ll see he uses this exact motion.
Again, by pushing the ball out of your stick, you are limiting your ability as a passer. You may get lucky and get some good throws; however, you will not be consistent. Besides it being the proper motion, using a catapult-like throwing motion will make throwing the ball easier and keep your arms from getting fatigued. I slacked off some and got into this habit a year ago. A coach at Air Force called me on it and corrected it immediately. Right away, I noticed less stress on my arms. Don’t brute force your throws, make physics do the work!
Hold Stick in Fingertips, Not Palms
This is a hard habit to break. It will also be extremely uncomfortable when correcting. When throwing, you need to be holding your stick in your fingertips, not the palms of your hands. Doing this gives you more control over your stick. It will improve your accuracy and power as well.
Coach Wilson, the head coach at Air Force, makes sure all his players do this.
He was the one that made me aware of this. This, along with catapulting the ball, made throwing long passes much easier. I noticed I was able to get the ball out quicker when dodging while holding the stick like this. You may hate this at first, but I promise, once you power through, it will feel natural. You will be glad you did this.
One tip on this: don’t do this at practice right away if it’s messing up your throws. Practice this during wallball until you are comfortable enough to do this in a live setting. Gradually build up your confidence in holding your stick like this.
If you follow these five tips, I guarantee you will become a better passer. If you already do all this, great! Though, I will warn you to not get complacent. As I mentioned above, I sometimes slack too. We’re only human. It’s easy to get complacent with your wallball. You want to get it done quickly so you rep it out fast. I’m guilty of this too. But after prolonged ignorance of these guidelines, one day you’ll come out and your throwing motion will be off. Then it takes some time to correct it. The slightest mistake can make all the difference in being on target or slightly to the left. You can’t get complacent. Elite players don’t get complacent. You want to be elite, don’t you?
Did you find these tips helpful? Is this the worst advice ever? Have anymore tips? Let me know what you think by subscribing to the site and commenting. Or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram. I also have a YouTube where I do highlight videos. I’m looking into getting a computer specifically for video editing so my clips aren’t as choppy. My current computer can’t handle rendering such large files. Regardless, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!