Sept. 11, 2007
Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of Lacrosse magazine in March 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 Matt DaSilva, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the best shooter of all?
If you spend more time in front of the mirror evaluating your off-hand mechanics -- and perhaps less time checking out your eye paint -- the answer could be you.
Just ask Mark Millon.
Widely regarded as one of the better off-hand shooters in the game, the All-Pro and All-World attackman says a little visualization can have the same impact on strengthening your left or right hand as do hours at the wall.
Millon, the Major League Lacrosse Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2005 and founder of Millon Lacrosse Camps, wrote LM on the topic a few months ago:
"The game of lacrosse revolves around stick skills. If you posses good stick skills, in all likelihood, you can be successful at any level. I define good stick skills as having the ability to confidently pass, catch and shoot on the run, both right-handed and left-handed. It does not mean you can do the most tricks with your stick! You will be amazed how much good stick skills will open up other parts of your game, including shooting and dodging. To improve your stick skills, there a few things you can do. Be committed, keep your stick in your hands 24/7/365, play wall ball and don't be afraid to use your off-hand at camp and in practice. It will give you valuable confidence."
According to Millon, the key to developing your off-hand is ensuring that the mechanics used are identical as those of your strong hand. It may seem somewhat narcissistic at first, but ditch the ball, and stand in front of a mirror (preferably full-length and not too close to the china cabinet). Go through the shooting motions with your strong hand and take notice of every detail -- from footwork to hand position. Also, pay attention to the range of motion and body torque as you move your stick from shooting position behind your ear to your release point and follow-through.
Now switch to your off-hand and do the same.
If you're like the rest of us pedestrian lacrosse players, the mechanics probably do not look the same. Repeat the process until the motions are identical for each hand. This may take a few sessions in front of the mirror. If you're experiencing difficulty: first off, welcome to the club, and secondly, try it without gloves.
Once you're comfortable, take a bag of balls out to the cage and practice that motion by picking spots and shooting at them with your off-hand. Remember, at this stage, accuracy is much more important than velocity.
And be patient. Even Millon misses the cage occasionally.
For more from Millon or information on his camps, visit www.millonlacrosse.com.