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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.
Follow along as Ohio State head coach Nick Myers breaks down form shooting with you. Myers covers the finer points when it comes to shooting and how players can use deception to get the most out of each shooting opportunity. See how you can implement these key tips with your squad this season so they can improve their shooting skills and overall offensive effectiveness.
Let’s start with the core fundamental pieces when it comes to shooting. You can make an analogy to golf here. In golf, you have the tendency to overswing. When you do, you sacrifice your fundamentals and form for power. Well, in lacrosse, you can compare this to a shot using only the arms. When this happens, you won’t be able to progress (especially with accuracy and power).
Continuing with the analogy, a lot of times in lacrosse, we aren’t using the right kind of club. For instance, there are different types of shots like in tight to the cage, off ball, time and space, and shots on the run. You have a number of shots in your bag, and you need to be effective at all of them.
First, you want to have good balance. By putting a piece of cheater tape on the stick, it will allow a player to have a point of reference for their hands. Coach Myers puts his stick right on his hips, gets a good base and balance, and puts his stick right to his chin. He will then rotate his chin to his shoulder. You want good space between you and your stick. And then you just let your body naturally rotate with you. This is what we call the catch and load phase.
1) Catch & Load — This is where you simply have a good stance, receive the ball deep, naturally coil the body, load the hips, and keep your weight on your back foot.
A great drill to practice this is to work with a partner, have light feet, and work on receiving the ball right into your catch and load position. Every rep I take, I am bringing it back and loading, catching it deep as the ball comes in, my feet are moving as the ball is in flight, I’m rotating my shoulders, my hands are out and up, my chin is on my shoulder, and I am ready to shoot the ball. You can’t be flat footed as you don’t want to drag the stick down. It makes the shot longer and creates room for error.
2) Follow-through – Start with your elbow, hip, and front foot. These three areas will be connected. You should rip with your elbow, which will open up the hips. Then turn your front foot and open your stance. This will really generate some power through the core of your body. Don’t allow your hands to come into your body.
Start with a ten-yard time and space shot. We call this our “Driver Shot.” We generate the most power out of this one. Our feet are set, we are catching and loading, and we are really trying to follow through to the goalie with as much power as we can get. Don’t overshoot. The key is to get the ball out and up quickly.
Shooting Progression: Catch and Load, Open Stance, Rip Elbow, and Follow Through.
In the slow motion clip, notice that the head of the stick is behind his body. This is hiding the stick from the goalie and forcing the player to coil his body and really get out and over the top.
With Soft Toss, we are working on the following: Stepping in and following through right at the target, not shooting for accuracy but for power, working on form, catching the ball soft, rotating the body, and delivering an explosive followthrough. Go righty and then lefty. It’s just a partner pass and shot. If you can get 25-30 reps before practice each day, you’ll really improve your technique and overall shooting.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Explosive Skills & Drills for Offensive Lacrosse” featuring Nick Myers. Check out more shooting videos by visiting our extensive lacrosse library.
Check out these three pracrical shooting drills that replicate game situations. Robert Morris head lacrosse coach Kenneth “Bear” Davis leads you through each one, first through whiteboard discussion and then via on-field simulations. Each drill is suitable for players of all levels and easy to implement into your own practices. After making these drills a part of your practice routine, hopefully they’ll deliver results come game time.
In this drill, one player will start with the ball before giving it up to his teammate. That first player will then make a back cut immediately after passing the ball. The feeder will then pass it right back to that player before the shooter get his hands set and then rips a shot. Communication is particularly important here among players for this type of play to succeed.
Meanwhile, the shooter has options. He can shuffle down, or get an over-the-shoulder look, among several other moves. Also, the “Give and Go” is ideal for middies in order to simulate a fast break, where players typically pass off to a point attackman before calling for the ball right back. You typically see give and go looks stemming from fast break opportunities.
Tip: On the shuffle move, players should get their shoulders square to the ball carrier before calling for the ball and receiving it back.
If your offense features a lot of pick and rolls, it’s key that your offense can also read and react to the pick and rolls, too. This drill is a great way to practice this.
You can run this drill from the side or from up top, whatever fits your offense best. Don’t forget that players need to open up and get their shoulders square to the ball carrier (so he/she can be ready to receive the pass). Coaches can also dictate where they want players to move in the drill, like telling players they must give it up, or go to the cage, or allow a player to freelance (unscripted).
Tip: You can run this drill on both sides of the cage at the same time to maximize reps and make sure everyone is getting involved.
According to Coach Davis, this is not a drill for the weak. Line up your players in two lines and within the hash marks of the field. One line should be filled with defenders. The other line will have midfielders or attackmen. One midfielder/attacker will carry the ball and go one-on-one with a defenseman. Players have limited space to work with and must stay within the perimeter of hash marks (where the lines are formed).
Starting at the 50-yard line, players must run down the gauntlet until it’s just a one-on-one with the goal. If the offensive player beats the defender clean, then the defender must do all he/she can to chase and recover. The offensive player will look to get off a high percentage shot on goal.
This is a terrific warm-up drill for 1-on-1’s. Defenders get to work on their footwork and offensive players get to work on their ball protection.
Tip: Once within 10 yards of the cage, players can then shoot on net. Also, you can make this drill as physical as you’d like, but it’s recommended to get the fundamentals down first.
The following shooting drills work on players moving to an area, catching the ball with their feet set, and getting away a quick release and hard overall shot. With Johns Hopkins University Offensive Coordinator Bobby Benson as your guide, you’ll learn about turnaround shots, shots for mumbo drills, and shots off of quick screens. Coach Benson first breaks down each drill step-by-step before using on-field demonstrations to illustrate how the workouts should be carried out.
In this drill, our shooters will start out by facing in one direction. On “Go”, they will then turn to the outside, catch a feed from a teammate, and then fire a shot on net. As soon as the player releases his shot, he will then replant himself, turn to the outside again, approach the next feeder, catch the pass, and release another shot on cage.
Two feeders will start in the wing areas of the field with the shooter in the middle of them. Each player should look to get 10 to 15 shots before switching out.
Remember, it’s key that we turn to the outside so that we can turn our back to the goal and get our body set to receive the ball. On the other hand, if we turn to the inside, we are much more likely to catch the ball square to the goal where we can’t get that good hard shot off.
Now add a second player and move the feeders down to the GLE. With players criss-crossing, it will make them push a bit harder now. Be sure to have players working at a good pace. It’s key that the participants communicate constantly so they don’t hit each other as they run across.
Now for this drill, we’ll implement two goals on opposite sides. Shots should be taken from about 12 yards out. Each player will do the same semi-circle move as before, just working on opposite sides of each other now. Coach Benson finds that involving two players at once makes participants play at a faster pace. Remember to keep good form at all times and that each respective player should only shoot on one specific goal throughout the simulation.
It’s important to practice the shots that you’ll typically get in the game. At Hopkins, Coach Benson likes to devise shooting drills that will look like some aspect of his own offense, whether it’s utilizing a wing-to-wing skip, rolling off the crease, or a mumbo.
This drill emulates a mumbo. A mumbo is when a wing player heads into the crease area and sets a screen and the player on the crease comes off the screen to catch the ball and take a shot. This drill will force shooters to get off the crease, get their feet set, catch the ball back, and shoot it hard.
It all starts with a dodge from up top. We’ll then set the mumbo and do it over and over again with the two participating players to really practice their shooting. It’s key that we get the timing down between the dodgers and the screeners. Remember to try and create shooting drills that will emulate the parts of your offense. Thus, when players get into a game, they are comfortable with specific kinds of shots.
This time we’ll start with a dodge from behind the cage, make a screen to the crease, and then come off that screen and look to throw a good feed behind with a catch and finish. Look to get those feet set so that you can catch the ball with your weight back and arms back in order to get a good release and hard, accurate shot.
Here’s another shooting drill that involves two players making a quick screen with a pop out, but no dodge this time. One player will come down for the quick screen about 10-12 yards in front. The other player will curl off of him, catch the pass and shoot. That same player will then immediately turn into the screener and the previous screener now turns into the shooter. Remember to curl into the area just behind the screen. This will give you the time necessary to get set and then have the open space to deliver.
The preceding clips can be found on Championship Productions’ DVD 35 Championship Shooting Drills for Lacrosse featuring Bobby Benson. Click here to check out our extensive video collection highlighting additional shooting drills.