The game of lacrosse requires certain skills that will help a player handle a lacrosse ball effectively, ultimately providing the opportunity for a shot or goal. These basic ball skills include scooping, passing, catching, cradling and shooting. Lacrosse is also a very physical sport and requires an understanding of checking and dodging techniques. Practicing and mastering these basic skills will make for a more rewarding playing experience.
Scooping is the act of picking a ball up off the ground and is the most commonly used ball recovery technique. While running toward the ball, the player’s knees are bent. The head of the stick is dropped to the ground and the stick handle is positioned a few inches higher. A quick forward motion with the head of the stick toward the ball will scoop it into the pocket of the head.
To move the ball down field, a player with possession of the ball will place the stick at his side with the stick head next to his face. One hand will be at the end of the stick while the other is placed in the middle of the stick. While facing the stick head in the direction the ball will be passed, the player quickly snaps the stick to fling the ball from the pocket in the head to another player.
Catching a passed ball requires concentration. The stick is positioned to the side of the body with the head of the stick up next to the face. One hand is at the base of the stick, while the other is near the throat of the stick. As the ball comes to the player, the stick head is positioned in the ball’s path and the ball is received in the pocket. The player will move the head backwards to absorb the impact of the ball and allow it to settle in the pocket.
Cradling is used by a player to maintain possession of the ball. While the ball is in the pocket of the stick head, the wrists of the player are twisted back and forth to keep the ball in the pocket. This technique should be practiced while standing or running to gain proficiency in maintaining possession of the ball at all times.
Shooting is the actual act of trying to score a goal. When shooting, the player will take a low, wide and stable stance. The shoulder and hips of the lower hand on the stick are aimed at the goal with the torso rotated away. The torso and upper hand on the stick are then brought forward, forcefully, to propel the ball at the goal.
Checking in lacrosse is direct physical contact with a member of the opposite team. The intent of checking is to try to dislodge the ball from an opponent’s stick, to disrupt the other player in some way, or to block an opponent from shooting, passing or picking up a loose ball.
Developing the skill of dodging allows a player to avoid members of the opposing team. This helps to gain more protection when in possession of the ball. There are different types of dodges, each with a specific purpose, whether to fake out an opponent, spin to avoid a check, or use brute force to overwhelm a defensive player.