As of April 2014, more than 400,000 youth play lacrosse in the United States. As this sport gains momentum in schools and communities, parents are looking for ways to help their kids stay fit and focused while they aren't on the field. These 6 lacrosse drills will help encourage and motivate young players.
1. Wall Ball
This lacrosse drill improves hand-eye coordination and does not require an opposing player to perform. Kids can use the sides of their homes, or parents can purchase rebounders through lacrosse equipment stores.
Wall ball involves bouncing the ball against a hard surface so it comes back to the player. Experts recommend:
- Wearing gloves
- Standing at least 4 feet from the wall or rebounder
- Practicing with both hands to improve field skills
Although wall ball is designed as a solitary drill for lacrosse players, it can be modified for two or more participants. If your child includes a friend or teammate in this drill, however, they will need more space to provide variety and avoid injury.
Additionally, your child can derive more benefits from this drill if he or she focuses on throwing the ball differently each time. Creating unique scenarios will simulate encounters on the field.
2. Cradling Drills
Another important skill for your young lacrosse players to practice at home is cradling. This includes all different styles, including:
- Two-handed cradling
- One-handed cradling
- Different pocket depths
For example, a deeper pocket improves ball retention when running down the field, but a shallow pocket allows faster and more precise ejection of the ball. Your child can practice both methods using both one- and two-handed cradles so he or she is prepared for games.
As a parent, you can participate in cradling drills by blowing a whistle each time you want your child to switch hands. This improves your child's cradling with the non-dominant hand and improves flexibility.
3. Dodge Drills
You don't have to have a family full of lacrosse players to set up dodging drills for your child at home. Dodging is an important aspect of offensive lacrosse play, and many youths experience anxiety about performing dodges.
Have your child practice all the different types of dodges, including:
- Simple dodges, such as the face dodge and roll dodge
- More complex movements, such as the "question mark" and "bull"
- Combination dodges to circumvent multiple defenders
You and other family members can play the defenders, or you can set up an "obstacle course" in your yard with items you have around the house. Traffic cones, upside-down buckets, and even sacks of mulch or concrete work well for this purpose.
Change the orientation and location of each of the defenders for every drill. Tell your child which dodges you want him or her to perform, then concentrate on the dodges with which he or she has the most trouble.
4. Shooting Drills
To help your child improve his or her shooting skills, set up a lacrosse net in your front or backyard. Encourage your child to practice specific shots over and over again, preferably at full speed, while attempting to hit the same exact spot in the net each time.
Simply shooting balls over and over does not improve lacrosse skills by any substantial margin, but adding specific goals works wonders. If your child knows he or she has a mark to hit, the drill becomes more precise (and more beneficial). Other ways to modify shooting drills include:
- Having your child scoop up a ground ball before taking each shot
- Asking your child to run behind the net before making the shot
- Combining dodging and shooting drills with people or stationary objects
Generic drills for speed and endurance are also important for young lacrosse players, such as sprinting or calisthenics. However, lacrosse-specific drills will benefit your child more on the field and help him or her develop confidence.
Click here for more information on lacrosse equipment and drills.