If you’ve played lacrosse you know that the deceptively simple-looking game is actually more complex than it appears. It takes plenty of individual skill and team coordination to move the ball up and down the field, or to defend your net. Teaching these skills to new players also requires careful strategy, but the payoff is the satisfaction you’ll receive as your players become more adept at this classic North American game.
Start your new players with ball-handling basics, beginning with cradling. Line up your players and have them simply learn the proper grips for various cradling techniques, while standing still. For example, have each player hold a stick horizontally while placing her top hand -- the right hand, for a right-handed player -- under the stick and near the pocket, and the bottom hand on top of the stick, toward the butt end, for the two-hand upright cradle. When the players are comfortable with a variety of grips, have them practice cradling by jogging forward for a specified distance while carrying balls in their sticks. Observe the players carefully and correct any deficiencies in their cradling form.
Passing and Catching
Teach your players to perform passing and catching drills against a wall, then encourage the players to perform these drills on their own. The player should line up about 10 yards from the wall, holding her stick with two hands. Have her bounce the ball just in front of the wall and catch the rebound. As the players become more proficient, have them aim their passes so they rebound to their right, then to their left. Have the players practice catching the ball on both sides with two hands on their sticks, then with just one hand on the stick. For a team drill, put your players in two lines and send pairs of players down the field, passing the ball back and forth as they go. Have them spread farther apart when they reach the end of the field, then have them exchange longer passes on the return trip.
Begin by rolling balls to your players and have them scoop the balls into their stick pockets. Raw beginners can simply catch the balls, but they should progress quickly to scooping up the ball while on the run, then accelerating when they’ve secured the ball. The player should yell “ball” as she approaches the ball and “break” when she has possession. Make sure players bend from the knees as much as possible, rather than bending only from the waist and reaching down for the ball, and have them quickly raise their sticks to shoulder level and turn counterclockwise -- if they’re right-handed -- when they gain possession, to help protect the ball.
Line up 15 to 20 balls at the top of the circle in front of the net. Have each player proceed across the arc, scooping each ball then shooting it in the net. When your players become comfortable shooting, place targets in the net for them to hit, or insert a goalie and make it a combined shooting-goalkeeping drill. Alternatively, simply have players shoot at the net from a distance appropriate for their age, and monitor their form. A right-handed player should shoot with her left foot forward and right arm back, relative to the net. Make sure each shooter rotates from the waist so she’s facing the net on her follow-through.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.