In this week’s player development feature, learn basic shooting mechanics and key shooting drills from one of the game’s greatest players. With Gary Gait as your guide, you’ll find out how to properly isolate the hands and arms, develop release points, improve accuracy, and get important tips for generating power.
Isolating the Hands and Arms
Shooting in lacrosse is certainly more complex than just throwing the ball on net. We’ll begin with a basic shot and how it involves body mechanics.
The best shooters in lacrosse all have the ability to get shots off and put it in any place or direction they want no matter what their body does. This comes from isolation and the ability to throw the ball no matter where the body is.
To start, square up your feet towards the goal and then get the right mechanics on the hands and the arms. As for your grip on the stick, grip it at the base of your fingers and not in the palms. This allows you to get more follow through and movement on the stick. Also, slide that top hand down the stick a bit.
Now we want to get the arms in the best position so we can get the most out of them. Extend the bottom arm so you can get a long pull. Flatten the top arm so you can get a nice push. Don’t get the stick at an angle where the pull is much shorter and where the push is shorter. Instead, position your arms in a way that maximizes their potential power.
Now, let’s focus on turning the feet and changing the position of our body. We still want to practice getting good use of the hands and arms here. Now point your feet to the sideline and keep them square. Shoot the ball and come across with the stick and focus on that same quickness. Your feet should be still. All we’re doing here is shooting stationary on the goal. Get lots of reps and explode through the movement.
Finish by reversing sides. Get the stick up and get a good pull and good push.
Developing Release Points
The next step is developing release points. Release points come from how much you pull and how much you push, plus when you pull and push.
For example, if you start from the same position every time, you can push and pull from here and get the ball to stay high. You can also develop a different release point by delaying the pull and the push. As you start the motion, drag the stick a little, then pull and push. It looks the same from the starting position, but now you can release the ball low.
We can also incorporate some side-to-side action. To aim side-to-side, pull the stick across the body as you make your push-pull movement. While this makes a natural upper body turn, it also makes your stick travel on a diagonal. From this same position and with the slightest adjustment with the hands and the push/pull, it will really change where the ball releases. Now you can hit the right corner, the left corner, the mid-left, the mid-right, bottom left and bottom right.
Before, we were facing the goal, now we can adjust our body (turn it to the side) and go through the same motions and shoot it at all areas of the goal. Move the ball around the goal and keep your body in the same position. Then turn the other way (from right to left, or vice versa).
Accuracy and Power
Next, it’s about focusing on accuracy. Accuracy comes from practice. Simply get out there and practice over and over again trying to hit the same spot. You’ll develop consistency and accuracy this way.
After accuracy comes power, which derives from the body, driving through the legs, the hips and up through the body. The power then travels up through the hands, and you finish by being able to control where the shot goes using your hands and arms, how much you push and pull, and when you push and pull.
With power, line up facing the sideline and bring the stick back to generate speed with the stick. Turn your body to see over your shoulder. Drive your leg down, turn your hips through, keep your stick back, and come all the way through while twisting the body. Now we’re back into the position of how much I push and pull determines where the ball releases. So step, drive, shoot and get a really hard shot on cage.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Becoming a Champion Lacrosse Player with Gary Gait: Shooting Techniques and Drills.” To check out more videos featuring shooting drills and instruction, visit our lacrosse library.