WLA is a non-profit, volunteer-based association offering the young people of the Wayzata School District in grades 1 through 12 an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of lacrosse in a safe, respectful and fun environment.

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Cradling, Scooping, Throwing and Catching!
 
The four basic fundamental skills of lacrosse include the following: cradling, scooping, throwing and catching. It is very important to develop a strong foundation of these skills at a young age. It will enable a person to demonstrate the correct methods and techniques necessary for all levels of play. By learning these skills and perfecting them as soon as possible, players prepare themselves for become outstanding lacrosse players.
 
Cradling
Cradling is the most basic skill in the game of lacrosse. The purpose of cradling is to maintain possession of the ball in one's stick. It is quite common to see many styles on the field at one time. Some players use the full cradle. The full cradle can be described as opening/closing a gate by holding the stick near the side of one's face and cradling from ear to ear. Others use a half cradle, which is more useful in carrying the ball full speed down the field. A half cradle can be described by moving the stick back and forth from the ear to the midline of one's body. It can allow players to create more opportunities for themselves on the field, in terms dodging, passing or shooting. The most important thing to emphasize with each cradle is stick protection, or keeping the stick and ball within the space around one's body. Having a clear and vivid picture of where the ball is at all times and what movements could flow from each point in both full and half cradles will enable players to execute most of the other techniques in the game.
 
Scooping
Scooping is another very basic lacrosse skill to master. Scooping is picking up the ball from the ground with the head of one's stick. Lacrosse players must be willing to give their best effort in order to scoop up every ground ball before their opponent. It is extremely important to bend your knees, run through the pickup and begin cradling immediately with tight stick protection. In other words, players should focus on getting their bottom hand on the stick down so the shaft is almost parallel to the ground. For young players, a practical way to think of this is scraping your knuckles across the grass. Practiced consistency is required in order to master scooping skills. In a competitive game situation, the player who demonstrates the greatest effort, determination, hustle and technique will most likely win the groundball pickup.

So, what is next? Start now! Put in hours of practice by yourself or with friends to achieve success in scooping. 100% Effort!

 
Throwing
 Catching and throwing are crucial fundamentals of the game. It is so important to develop these skills. One of the best methods used to practice catching/throwing is to go up against a brick wall. It allows a person to work on eye hand coordination, accuracy and consistency through repetition. Here are a few points to consider in throwing the ball. Players should place their dominant hand at the top and non-dominant hand at bottom of the stick. It is necessary to push forward and pull down, similar to a lever. Aim and follow through with the stick to the target.

In order to increase distance of a throw, players should slide their top hand down the stick to get more leverage. Throwing against a wall will help you adjust your distance and accuracy before throwing with friends or a team for the first time. Then go out and do it! Find a friend or teammate and work on making accurate passes directly to the person's stick. Have fun in the process!
 
Catching
Finally, here are a couple things to focus on when catching the ball. Players need to really think about keeping their eye on the ball the entire time. In order to catch properly, one must give back with their stick on each catch and begin cradling immediately. Think of catching an egg to over-emphasize the give needed for every catch. Once again, it takes hours of practice to reach one's fullest potential. Just remember, catch the pass first and then protect your stick from the opponent. Throw and catch. Be the best!

The fundamental skills of lacrosse require a great deal of hard work and dedication. By working on specific concepts mentioned in this article, players will have the opportunity to enhance the overall level of their game. Lacrosse is a spectacular sport of skill, speed and finesse. Focus specifically on each skill set: cradling, scooping, throwing and catching. There you have it! With some serious practice in these areas, you have an excellent chance to become a well-rounded, versatile and outstanding lacrosse player!
 
Shoot, Score, Win!

Personal Shooting Strategy
A fundamental skill of the game; shooting requires extreme accuracy and precision. Players should focus on correct hand and body positioning during the act of shooting. Here are a couple ideas used to plan effective shooting approaches or strategies. First, think to yourself, "I am aiming to throw the ball at a target." Then, visualize a shift in body weight following through with your stick towards the goal. It is critical to maintain the proper shooting distance, keeping yourself away from shooting directly on the crease circle or from shooting too far out beyond the 8m. Work on finding a happy medium for yourself between the two distances and then be able to visualize your "spots."

It takes an endless effort and a great amount of practice to master this fine art of shooting on goal. Visualization will help you get there. Great lacrosse players develop their own unique shooting style within the parameters of their coach's instruction and the rules of the game.

The Three P′s of Shooting
There are three P-words to remember that make learning how to shoot easy: Placement, Precision and Power. Combining these three will make you a shooter.

Placement: Aim for an exact spot in the goal. It is best to aim for one of the upper or lower corners of the goal. Shoot around the goalie, not at her. Focus on shooting in the empty spaces of the net. Placement is key!

Precision: Players want to become very precise with their shooting patterns. Develop approaches or "moves" to the goal with and without the ball. This way, when you do get your opportunity, you won't just shoot to get rid of the ball at the last minute. You'll be comfortable enough to shoot to score with precision.

Power: With plenty of practice, you'll develop a strong, hard and powerful shot on goal. Use all of your upper and lower body strength together to generate power, following through towards the goal target. Sliding your top hand down the stick, as you shoot can increase shot speed. It will give you more leverage and therefore, more power.

Shooting Drills
There are a variety of drills to enhance overall shooting performance.

The shooting shuttle: Most effective during a team practice or game warm-up, the shooting shuttle requires at least 10 people. There are two lines with 5-7 people in each. Set up the lines opposite from one another, similar to a regular shuttle drill, outside the 12m shooting space areas and parallel to the goal. The first player in one line begins by throwing to the first person in the opposite line and then cutting to the goal. The player who now has the ball feeds the cutter who receives the pass, takes a couple cradles towards cage, and fires a shot on goal. It becomes a continuous drill so have many balls ready. Each person needs to be prepared with a ball in one line. After the ball is thrown to the cutter, the feeder runs to end of the cutter line. Cutters, go to the feeder line after they shoot. A shooting shuttle drill allows players to work on the other fundamental skills of cradling, throwing and catching, while also becoming a star shooter!

Two Person Drill: Practice shooting with a friend. The basic idea is to have a feeder (person who is throwing the pass) with balls behind the goal. Put the balls where the feeder will not step on them while moving around behind the goal providing feeds from various angles. The shooter cuts towards the feeder and takes shots on goal until all of the balls are in the goal or need to be chased down from misses. Then set it up again and change roles on the field. This drill is a good workout and quickens reaction time. One must think "catch, take one cradle and shoot!" It can be a very effective shooting drill with intense focus and concentration of both players.

Individual Drill: Bring about 20 balls to the goal. You can stand between the 8-12m areas and just shoot at first as a fairly relaxed drill. Work on outside shots and to cover a variety of shooting angles. At the same time, you could also use this opportunity to practice 8m shots. A few key ideas for an 8m is to have a quick first step off the line, aim for the corners and shoot to score. Step it up and run through all the shots. After all, you rarely get a shot in a game standing still.

There are a number of ways to practice shooting at the goal. I have presented you with the team, friend, and individual shooting drills. It is now up to you. Use your imagination. Be creative and build an arsenal of outstanding shots!

The Inside Scoop!
Here is it: the moment you have all been waiting for: The inside scoop that can make players not only average, but All-American shooters in the game of lacrosse.

FAKING: You must learn to fake the goalkeeper before shooting. Pump fake your shot or throw an extra cradle at her. You can fake the shot high for the corners and then shoot it low, fake low for the corners and then shoot it high, or any combination. It gives you the opportunity to move the goalkeeper one way and then shoot the other. The main idea is to catch the goalkeeper off guard, which forces her to lose balance and get out of position in the cage. Remember to give yourself an extra second to throw a pump fake before the defenders get too close.

GETTING OPEN: You must learn to get open (stick and body) before shooting. Work on getting past a defender, then focus on taking a good shot at the goal. Players should practice their own deceptive moves to setup higher percentage scoring opportunities for themselves. Change of speed and direction is an effective deception with and without the ball. You should develop your own style of shooting but it is also very important to learn the most effective ways of getting yourself open before you'll get the opportunity to take that amazing shot on goal!

DON'T RUSH: Learn to give yourself enough time before shooting. Take those few extra seconds to focus on the goal cage, fake and shoot into the open spaces of the net. You should always keep your eyes open, head up, looking for the highest percentage scoring moment. When handling the ball in front of the goal, remain calm, patient, and relaxed at all times. There is no need to rush a non-desirable shot which could lead to a change of possession. Maintain the composure and confidence needed to make the best decisions on the field.

By Trish Cummings