Sept. 11, 2007
Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of Lacrosse magazine in April 2006. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Karen Townsend, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online
"Don't let the meter maid get you."
This was the best advice I ever received when it came to taking an 8-meter shot. Who is the meter maid? She is the defender that stands on the hash marks beside you and the one that lurks behind you. I refer to her as a meter maid because her job is to clear the 8-meter and penalize anyone who hangs around too long -- just as a parking meter maid does.
She's constantly patrolling the area, waitingg for you to get sloppy or lazy, or even forget she is there. It is then that she takes advantage of the situation and forces you out with a heavy fine -- usually no goal and a turnover.
I found that the best way to avoid getting caught by the meter maid is to get in, take care of business and get out as quickly as possible. Attempting lots of fancy or elaborate tricks to outsmart the meter maid typically just landed me in more trouble.
During the course of a game, you can use different cuts, spins, and cradles to put your defender back on her heels and blow by her. However, 8-meter shots give the defense a chance to set up and paint a target on you. Every defender is going to do her best to stop the ball. The more spinning and cutting you do, the deeper you get as the defense collapses around you. For this reason, I have relied on 10 simple, yet very effective techniques to capitalize on the majority of my 8-meter shots.
Tip 1: Keep your stick in front of you at all times. Come off the hash ready to shoot. Even when you take your shot, don't pull your stick back, just fire from in front of your body. Pulling back to shoot will most likely invite the defense to check your stick.
Tip 2: When lining up on the hash mark, make sure your bodyweight is forward and not resting on your back foot. I prefer to take my first step towards goal with my front foot (which is on the hash), conserving time and motion, both of which are limited during free-position situations. Do whatever feels most comfortable for you, as long as your weight is forward.
Tip 3: Don't ever look at the goalie or her stick. Instead, train yourself to look only at open spaces on the net, preferably the weak-side corners and off hip.
Tip 4: Aim low, shoot to score, and shoot with confidence.
Tip 5: Change the level of your stick on your shot. The goalie will be waiting for you to shoot from stick position as you come off the hash...so mix it up. Remember, the key is to have a quick release, flick-like shot.
Tip 6: Don't stop short. Follow through on your run and your shot. Encourage teammates to do the same because oftentimes there is a rebound and another shot opportunity. However, avoid running into the crease by angling your run. (Tip 7 explains angled runs.)
Tip 7: Angle your run to cut off your defender. I usually run towards the opposite goal post and cut right in front of my defender, leaving her defenseless.
Tip 8: Always throw in a fake. Nothing too elaborate, just something to make the goalie move.
Tip 9: Have an idea of what you're going to do before the whistle blows. Visualize where you're going and how you plan on getting there. However, be able to adapt to what the defense throws at you as well.
Tip 10: Use what you have. If you have a rocket shot, then wind up and shoot from the hash, again aiming for weak-side corners or off hip. I don't really have that luxury. I rely on my quickness off the hash to beat my opponents. Also, if one of your teammates is lucky enough to grab a low hash without a defender right on her, by all means use her. The pass should be quick and concise as she rolls to goal.
I relied very heavily on these tips throughout my college career. I practiced them over and over against every defensive circumstance and they almost always held true. However, if you want to mix it up, these are some tried-and-true moves:
The Hesitation and Fly-By: I have been going right to goal on all of my 8-meters in a particular game. The defense expects it now. So when the whistle blows I take my first two steps toward goal, hesitate a bit, let her fly by, then take the clear path to goal.
Angled-Run, Opposite-Corner Shot: I quickly come off the hash, cut right in front of my defender, and run to the opposite goal post. As I run by the goalie, I quickly pull back, jump, and nail the opposite high corner.
Angled-Run, Behind-the-Head Shot: Use the same technique as above, but this time the shot comes from behind the head and over your shoulder.
Karen Townsend is a former Division III All-American at Drew (N.J.) University and the 2000 IWLCA Division III Midfielder of the Year.