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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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Follow along with lacrosse legend Gary Gait as he breaks down and simulates effective outside shooting techniques. The following tips focus on developing proper range, implementing deception, using the body to generate power and maintaining proper form. See what tips you can take away from these techniques and use with your own squad this season.
Great shooters have the ability to get shots off and put the ball in any direction or place they want, no matter what their body does. But to get there, players must practice their shots over and over again while trying to hit the same spot each time. This way, you’ll be able to develop consistency and accuracy.
When it comes to generating power for a shot, your body is the driving force. To produce power, it’s key to drive through the legs, hips and up through the body and hands and finish where you can control where the shot goes. Next, we need to bring the stick back to generate speed, drive our legs down, turn the hips through and come through while twisting the body. Remember: How much you push and pull determines where the ball releases. Developing power also comes from leg drive, too.
Meanwhile, deception is also crucial to effective shooting. This comes from utilizing the body to telegraph a shot, but adjusting where the ball goes using different release points with the hands and arms. For instance, if you want to shoot high, your stick will be up high and your head will be in the middle of your body. When shooting low, your head points down and your stick is up high to begin with. This sets up for the ball to go low.
With deception, it’s all about isolating the hands and arms so that you have the ability to make the ball go the opposite way that the body sets up.
The key with outside shots (shots about 15+ yards away from the goal) is that we want to make sure we can score consistently from this distance. One of the biggest issues that players have is that they get too far from the goal when they take outside shots. At 15 yards away, you have a hard time scoring because of how much power (or, rather, lack of power) you have from there, and deception doesn’t quite allow you to score with a high frequency.
Through practice, you need to develop a range for the outside shot. One method is to simply get with your goalie after practice and work on your outside shots. See how often you can score from that distance. Note: You should be able to make more than 50 percent of your shots from here.
Once you have developed that range, now you want to work on your deception and quickness. As you wind up for an outside shot, don’t take a long time winding up. It only gives the goalie time to set up for the shot and get ready.
Players have a habit when shooting from the outside of being quite predictable. Therefore, use various shots and deception to throw off the goalie. For instance, look low and then try to put the ball high. You can work on this by moving all around the goal with your placement so the goalie can’t predict you. If the goalie can predict you, he’s at a big advantage, so be sure to mix things up.
All in all, you should have a quick set-up, use deception, implement a quick release, and develop a good range for your outside shot. Your range should be where you can score over 50 percent of the time.
With the sidearm shot, it’s key to use side-to-side deception, but you can also use high-to-low as well. Be sure to still find your range, generate lots of power by using the body, and implement some deception. Step away and pull, bring the shoulders up and release the ball low. You can also bring the shoulders down and release the ball down.
When you know your range and have developed your outside shot, you should practice from different spots all around the field. As a player, you are hardly ever in the same spot for every shot. For instance, really practice on the wings/sides with those tougher angles, too.
The distance of 8 to 10 yards from the goal is where players have the most success shooting. In this range, you don’t need to wind up and get a lot of power. Rather, you should focus on your quickness and deception. This is where the top shooters in the world earn their reputation. An ideal drill to practice these shots is to run circles around the ball (get 15-20 balls on the field) at a particular spot and keep cranking shots. Use a little cradle action to freeze the goalie and then get rid of your shot.
Shots on the move are the most typical shots you will take in a game. A sweeping shot is where you sweep across the top and have both time and room. Here, you must rely on planting the same side foot and coiling up the body (twist it). Deception also comes into play here, so look to hide the stick behind the body so that the goalie can’t see it. Dipping is also effective, which uses side-to-side deception. It’s important to focus on getting lots of power while shooting on the move. Additionally, if you’re not scoring consistently, you are out of your range. Therefore, you should be in good range to generate power on the sweep shot.
Let’s finish by talking about how to finish tight to the goal. This is an outside shot while on the run and heading directly towards the goal. While on the run, your stick should come back, and quick hands will be key. Get the body twisted back and throw in some deception. Next, we should get the opposite foot in front to generate our power.
The following shooting techniques can be seen in Championship Productions’ DVD “Becoming a Champion Lacrosse Player with Gary Gait: Shooting Techniques and Drills.” Check out additional shooting drills in our extensive lacrosse database by clicking here.
As the 2011 lacrosse season approaches, thousands of players and coaches will hit the field once again from California to New York and everywhere in between. Whether you have a few seasons under your belt or are just learning the fundamentals of the game, mastering these basic stick skills will make a big difference in improving your overall play. And with legendary lacrosse player and coach Gary Gait leading the way, you’ll be in good hands when it comes to learning about proper grip, catching the ball, throwing the ball and controlling the ball.
Before we can do anything in lacrosse, it’s crucial that we know how to hold the stick and use it in our hands. First, the stick should be held at the base of the fingers. This allows you to control the stick and develop a cradle. Meanwhile, your bottom hand should be placed at the bottom of the stick shaft. This hand controls the stick. Grip it at the base of the fingers while using the thumb.
Now, start on developing a cradle without the ball. Take the stick and develop a flat cradle by rolling the hand up and moving the arm. The elbow will go back and forth as well as rolling up the hand.
Remember, the bottom hand doesn’t have to turn (even though some players are taught this). It can sit over the stick and be loose. Then you can really let the stick spin within the hand. This way, if you are ever bumped or draw contact in a game, you still have the ability to maintain control and possession. Key: the top hand really controls the cradle.
As you start cradling with the ball, maintain a nice fluid swinging motion. You really want to be able to move the stick around and cradle in a variety of positions.
Next, it’s also important that we develop the ability to switch hands while cradling. To do this, drop the stick down a little bit and let your bottom hand slide up, then release, before pulling the stick back to the opposite hand. A good way to do this is to bend your knees and practice turning your body and keeping the stick to one side. Then bring the stick down, across and out the other way.
Catching the Ball
When it comes to catching the ball, it’s critical to make sure you always have a target up so teammates have somewhere to pass the ball. To do this, get your stick out in front at about eye level. Take your top hand and slide it down so you have some reach and can make adjustments on the ball.
Meanwhile, the bottom hand comes in a bit so that as the ball comes, we can absorb it. The number one key to catching in women’s lacrosse is as we absorb the ball, instead of just balancing it back, we should take the stick in to a side-to-side motion. So, as you catch it, turn the stick out. This helps create your cradling motion and also allows you to keep the ball in the stick. And even if there’s a bad pass, just that little turn will help you keep the ball inside the pocket and not bouncing out.
Throwing the Ball
When it comes to a basic throwing motion, it’s important to always get the stick up. Next, flatten the stick over your shoulder to provide some leverage. Really utilize the bottom arm here to get a good pull.
Next, you want to turn and have a pull to your strong side. Meanwhile, your throws should be a little bit diagonal as this will allow you to utilize the power of both arms. On a good throw, the stick is out, there’s a push-pull motion and you get a good throwing motion. Remember to bring that opposite shoulder out on a throw so the other shoulder comes forward on the follow-through as this will add power to the shot.
Controlling the Ball
Finally, to take our stick skills to the next level, we want to develop controlling the ball at the top of the stick. Many players let the ball sit at the base of the head, but passing and shooting become predictable from here because it’s mostly using top arm and this telegraphs our passes and shots.
However, with the ball in the middle of the head, or the soft spot, we can now move the stick a lot more and be much more deceptive. You can learn this by having the ball sit in the spot and develop a little cradle at the top of the stick. Then move the stick across and side to side with the ball in this spot — this develops a little pocket out front. Now, you can bring the stick back flat and it gives you more power, quickness and overall range of motion.
These segments — along with many others — can be found on Championship Productions’ DVD “Gary Gait: Coaching Girls Lacrosse – Basic Stick Skills & Drills.” To check out other videos in the Gary Gait library, click here.