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In order for a player to take his or her game to the next level, it’s key that they become proficient in scooping ground balls. According to lacrosse legend and current Syracuse head women’s coach Gary Gait, the more efficient you are at picking up a ground ball, the more successful you will be as a player overall.
In this week’s skill development feature, follow along with Gait as he teaches the fundamentals of ground ball play. Then watch as the Hall of Famer leads his players through a series of shuttle drills designed to teach athletes how to play while on the move.
When you go in to attack a ground ball, it’s key to bend your legs and get nice and low to get after that ball. As you go and get the ball, aim just in front of it with the front of the stick. Meanwhile, take your hand and bring it down into more of a passing or shooting position so that you can reach out for the ball.
Next, be sure to bend the knees, get the stick back, push through the ball, and push that bottom hand down as you push through. As you push your hand down, it brings the ball back up and into your protection position.
Most times you are going after a ground ball against an opponent, so it’s important that you focus on a few specific things. Remember, it’s not just about getting to the ball first and being able to pick it up. Your opponent may be faster and could run by you and get in front.
First, you want to think about getting in front of your opponent and giving yourself the advantage to get the ball. To do this, consider aiming somewhere in between the ball and your opponent and get your opponent behind you. This gives you the advantage to come through and scoop up the ball because your opponent can’t check you from behind. Therefore, look to step off with your inside foot before you get to the ball and use the body as a shield.
Another technique is to actually move the ball in another direction that favors you. This way, you can put yourself in a position to be in front of the opponent and scoop up the ball.
We’ve practiced drills when standing still with a partner, but now we need to practice playing on the move. Get your stick up, call for the ball, turn and absorb the pass, catch the ball, pass it to the next player, and go behind in line. Start with the right hand before switching over to the left hand.
Now we are working on switching hands. As we move down the field, we will incorporate our body and some athleticsm into it. Instead of just switching hands, we are going to physically move our body, too. Catch the ball with the right hand, carry it, then plant with the right foot, drive the stick down, turn the body, step out to the left, and then make that next pass. Switching hands in this drill will help incorporate the body into dodging. Finally, switch to catching with left hand and switching to the right.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Gary Gait: Coaching Girls Lacrosse – Basic Stick Skills & Drills.” To check out more girls’ lacrosse videos in our extensive catalog, click here.