Youth lacrosse in Shelburne, VT

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ESSENTIAL LACROSSE SKILLS AND HOW TO TEACH THEM (KINDERGARTEN, GRADES 1-2)


 OVERVIEW-  
On this page you will find important lacrosse skills  for Kindergarten and Grades 1-2 players and how to teach them these skills.  The explanations you will find here of how to teach these skills will be helpful to you as you explain skills to your players on the field.

On another page find a list of games and drills you can use with your players to help teach these skills. Remember to use a teaching progression where you start simple by having a player practice a skill on his/her own and then get more complex by having the player use the skill while being pressured by another player.  See the page on "Teaching Lacrosse Skills" for details on teaching techniques.

 This guide can be supplemented by watching DVDs the Shelburne Lacrosse Program owns on how to teach basic lacrosse skills.  Additionally it would be helpful to attend a lacrosse coaches clinic.  
  


INDIVIDUAL OFFENSIVE SKILLS
 
CRADLING AND PROTECTING THE BALL
 
Ready Position
 
1) The player holds the stick with one hand on the butt end of the stick and the other hand about mid-way up the stick.
 
2) The head of the stick is around the player’s ear (box position).
 
 
Two Handed Horizontal Cradle (the stick goes across the body)
 
1) Begin  with the stick horizontally across your body.
 
2) Grasp the stick with the fingers (not the palm) of the top hand about half way down the shaft. The bottom hand will be loosely wrapped around the bottom of the stick.   Rotate the wrist and forearm out and back rhythmically.
 
Note- This cradle  is used when a person with the ball is not covered.
 
 
Two Handed Vertical Cradle (the stick straight up and down)
 
1) Begin with the stick straight up and down (parallel to the body).
 
2) Grasp the stick with the fingers (not the palm) of the top hand about half way down the shaft. The bottom hand will be loosely wrapped around the bottom of the stick.   Rotate the wrist and forearm out and back rhythmically.  Instruct the player to cradle from ear to ear(the cradle will go from one side of the player’s head to the other).
 
3) Turn the shoulders to the side to protect the ball from the defender. (The player’s body is between his stick and the defender.)  Instruct the player to keep the head of the lacrosse stick below the player’s head.
 
Notes- This cradle is used when the ball carrier is covered by a defender and needs to protect the ball.
 
-Ball protection. - You always want to keep your body in between your stick and the defender (keep your stick to the outside).  If you are running to your right your stick is in your right hand (outside hand).  If you are running to your left your stick is in your left hand (outside hand). 
 
 
One Handed Cradle
 
1) Grasp the stick handle with the fingers of the top hand just below the head.  Position the thumb of the top hand in front of the handle and pointing up.
 
2) Position the head of the stick behind the head and shoulders, with the shaft perpendicular to the ground (straight up and down).
 
3) Rotate the shoulders to the side of the body to create a wide body surface for shielding the stick.
 
4) Rotate the wrist and forearm out and back rhythmically.  The elbow should be close to the body. This should be a crescent motion.  Instruct the player not to swing  his whole arm out. Instruct the player to cradle from ear to ear (the cradle will go from one side of the player’s head to the other).  Hold the off -stick arm out to protect the stick.  The thumb of the off-stick arm should be pointed down.
 
5) Do the cradling motion within the protected area formed by the outstretched off-stick arm.   Instruct the player to keep the head of the lacrosse stick below the player’s head.
 
Notes-
This cradle is used when there is extreme pressure being applied from a defender.
 
-Ball protection. - You always want to keep your body in between your stick and the defender (keep your stick to the outside).  If you are running to your right your stick is in your right hand (outside hand).  If you are running to your left your stick is in your left hand (outside hand). 
 
 
 
 
SWITCHING  THE STICK  IN  HANDS
 
Two Hands:
 
1) Hold the stick in the ready position
 
2) Take top hand off of the stick
 
3) At the same time loosen the bottom hand and let the stick slide down.  The bottom hand will now be the top hand. 
 
4) Place the other hand at the bottom.  The stick will now be on the opposite side.
 
Note- After players master the basic switch they will want to rotate their shoulders to the side while they are switching hands to protect the ball.
 
 
One Hand:
 
1) Hold the stick in one hand
 
2) Position the head of the stick behind the head and shoulders, with the shaft perpendicular to the ground
 
3) The  shoulders should be rotated to the side of the body to create a wide  body surface for shielding the stick.
 
4) Hold the off-hand up to the side to protect the ball
 
5) Rotate the shoulders to the opposite side.  After rotating, pass the stick from one hand to the other, placing the stick in the other hand.
 
THROWING
 
 
1 ) Hold stick in the ready position(bottom hand on the butt of the stick-the other hand half way down the stick- hands about 13 inches apart)  with the head of the stick to the side and  above the ear.
 
2) Turn so that the shoulders are perpendicular to the target, pointing the off-stick shoulder at the target.  Lift the stick so that the butt end of the stick is pointing at the target. The hands should be high  (up around eye level).   The hands should be out and away from the body (think of fitting a helmet between a players chest and the hands).  Point the front foot toward the target.
 
3) To initiate the throwing motion, throw/push with the top hand, pull with the bottom hand, and step with the front foot toward the target.
 
4) Throw the ball to the receiver’s stick side and to the head of his stick as he holds it in the ready position.
 
5) Follow through and carry the stick to a position with the head pointing at the target and the stick parallel to the ground.
 
Notes-
a) Tell players it is similar to throwing a baseball.
b) A player can choke up on the stick a little for better control (particularly non-dominant hand).
 
 
CATCHING
 
Catching On The Stick Side-
 
1) Place one hand on the butt of the stick and the other hand half way down the stick.
 
2) The player asking for the ball should give a target for the thrower by positioning the stick in or near the “box position.”  The head of the stick is at eye level slightly in front of the eyes.
 
3) Cushion /absorb the ball into the pocket by gently relaxing the top hand of the stick as the ball arrives (the head of the stick will go from out in front to  back to the ear).  At the same time twist the stick a half turn.
 
Notes-
A player should see the ball into his stick by following the path of the ball with his eyes until it goes into the stick’s pocket.
 
Remind the players not to swipe at the ball.
 
Catching On the Off- Stick Side
 
(To catch the ball on the off-stick side, the receiver pushes the stick across his face, similar to the motion of a car’s windshield wiper)
 
1 )Place one hand on the butt of the stick and the other hand half way down the stick.
 
2) Hold the head of the stick slightly  in front of the player’s eyes so the ball can be seen as it comes to the player.
 
3) Push the stick across the face (like a windshield wiper), catching the ball with the pocket facing the passer. Make sure player’s thumbs are facing down.
 
4) Continue to rotate the stick back to the ready position so that the stick is in a position to pass.
 
Catching Over the Shoulder
 
1) Look back over the shoulder that’s on the same side as the head of the stick. (Look over the right shoulder to receive a pass on the right side; turn the head and body to the left to receive a pass on the left side).
 
2) Hold the stick up and absorb the ball as it comes over the shoulder.  Keep the top hand and elbow away from the body.
 
Catching Low Passes (Both to the stick side and off-stick side)
 
1)A player will be in the same set up position as for a regular catch.
 
2)When a low pass comes (below a player’s waist) the player will swing his stick to an underhand position.
 
Note- If the low pass is to the player’s off-stick side, the player will use the same underhand motion and sweep down from the same side as a stick side low catch.  He will just continue the sweeping underhand motion to the off-stick side.
 

GROUND BALLS  (Scooping)
 
1) Move the stick out to the side and almost parallel to the ground.  One hand should be at the throat of the stick and the other on the butt end.
 
2) Bend at the knees and waist while approaching the ball.
 
3) Lower the head of the stick and butt hand. The stick should be close to the ground (think of scraping the knuckles on the ground)
 
4) Push down with your butt hand and pick up with the other hand.  Pretend like you are shoveling snow.  Accelerate through the ball.
 
5) Bring the head of the stick to the ready position (by ear) and continue to run to an open
area.
 
Note-
It is important to bend at the knees and have one hand on the throat of the stick so that a player can protect the ball from an opponent by using the body as a shield.  This keeps a player from just reaching out with his stick to scoop and exposing his stick to opposing players.
 
Boxing Out the Opponent
 
Overview-  Boxing out is a technique used to get body position on an opponent so a player can scoop a ground ball.
 
1)Position yourself with your back to the opponent and the ball in front of you.
 
2)Bend at your knees so that you can be stable and can withstand body contact.
 
3)Keep your body in between your opponent and the ball.
 
4)Scoop up the ground ball and run away from pressure.
 
 
SHOOTING
 
Overhand Shot
 
1) Point the off-stick shoulder and foot toward the target.  Keep the hands about six inces above the shoulders.
 
2) Step with the front foot, cross over with the back foot, and step again with the front foot—a movement similar to throwing a ball for distance.  Get the body into the shot.
 
Note- This is the most precise shot.
 
Bounce Shot
 
1) Same technique as described for the overhand shot.
 
2) Bounce the ball on the ground in front of the goalie.  Bounce the ball not at the goalie’s feet but instead at the crease so that the goalie is forced to play a rebound.
 

DODGES
 
Inside and Out Dodge (Fake left and go right/fake right and go left)
 
Overview- A simple dodge to gain separation from the defender.
 
1) As the dodger approaches his defender, he steps to the inside (away from his stick side) , planting off of this foot.
 
2) Drive to the stick side
 
 
Inside and Out Dodge With Stick Fake
 
Overview-A stick fake added in to get the defender to commit
 
1) As the dodger approaches his defender, he steps to the inside (away from his stick side) , planting off of this foot.
 
2) At the same time as the dodger is  stepping to the inside, he brings his stick across his body and turns his shoulders to protect the ball (stick fake)
 
3) Bring the stick back across the body to the original side and drive to the stick side.
 
 
Face Dodge
 
Overview- A good dodge when the defender rushes at the dodger
 
1) Stick is in the ready position as if to pass or shoot.
 
2) Take a deceptive step with right foot to get the defender to commit (or fake a pass or shot).
 
3) As the defender tries to check the stick, bring the stick across the body from the ready position on the stick side to the opposite side of the body.
 
4) While bringing the stick across the body, turn the shoulders to protect the ball from the defender, then drive forward to the left (for right-handed players).
 
5) Keep two hands on the stick and continue to move away from the defender.
 
6) Bring the stick back to the ready position on the stick side.
 
Bull Dodge
 
Overview-A good dodge against a defender who is standing still
 
1) Turn shoulders so player’s back is to defender and stick is protected
 
2) Run past the defender
 
Note- The bull dodge can be done both with a one-handed or two-handed cradle.  In both cases the player’s arm should be up to help protect the ball.
 
 
Change of Direction Dodge
 
Overview- This is a good dodge for when the defender slows down the ball carrier or when the ball carrier runs out of field space and wants to cut back.
 
1) Drive diagonally across the field, plant the foot opposite the stick, and bend at the knees.  These steps should be executed when a defender slows down the ball carrier or the ball carrier exhausts field space.
 
2) Pivot away from the defender, keeping the stick protected by the upper body.  Keep the body between the defender and your stick (keep your back to the defender).
 
3) With the back to the defender and as the shoulders and the head start to move away from the original line of direction, pull the stick back with the top hand and switch hands.
 
4) Keep the stick completely shielded from the defender. (If you are doing the dodge from a one-handed cradle, bring the stick back to the other hand to keep it protected).
 
Notes- This dodge can be executed from a two handed cradle or a one-handed cradle.
 
-It is assumed that if you are running to your right your stick is in your right hand (outside hand).  If you are running to your left your stick is in your left hand (outside hand).  You always want to keep your body in between your stick and the defender.
 
 
Notes- As the player is switching hands the stick should come down below the player’s chin to protect the ball.
The dodge can also be done starting with the stick in the left hand.
The dodge can also be done going from a two handed cradle to a one handed cradle.
 
Roll Dodge
 
Overview- This dodge is most effective when a defender over commits and is slightly out of position.
 
1)Run at the defender.  Plant your foot in between the defender’s legs as close to the defender as possible.  If stick is in the right hand, step with the left foot (non-stick side foot) with the toe pointing straight ahead. 
 
2) Pivot on the left foot 180 degrees with the player’s back to the defender.  Swing the right foot around.  (The player will be pivoting on the defender’s right side).
 
3) While pivoting switch the stick from the right handed cradle to a left handed cradle.
 
4) Step on the right foot and continue to run past the defender.
 
Notes- If the starting position of the stick is in the left hand, reverse the above steps.
 
-Remind players to plant hard and pivot as they are rolling, not to pirouette.
 
-By stepping with your non-stick side foot you are keeping your body in between your stick and the defender.
 
 
 
INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE SKILLS
 
DEFENSIVE STANCE AND FOOTWORK
 
Stance
 
Overview-  The defender’s stick position keeps the ball carrier at least a stick length away from him.  This space, or cushion, between the ball carrier and the defender makes it easier for the defender to react to the ball carrier’s dodges or change of direction. 
 
1) Keep the feet shoulder width apart
 
2) Bend the knees and lower the center of gravity
 
3) Bend forward slightly at the waist.  The weight of the head and shoulders stays over the feet.
 
4) Hold the stick parallel to the ground directly in front of the body (at the height of the numbers of the ball carrier’s jersey).
 
Note- Players should be instructed to stay between the offensive player and the goal.
 
Shuffle
 
1) When the ball carrier is moving slowly, the defender shuffles his feet and keeps his shoulders square to the ball carrier.
 
Running Hip to Hip and Crossover Step
 
1) When the ball carrier runs faster, the defender turns and runs hip to hip with him.  The defender establishes a hip to hip position with a crossover step.  In a crossover step a defender:
 
a) Pushes off the foot closest to the ball carrier
 
b) Brings his back foot across the front of his body, turns his hips, and runs