Dec. 5, 2006
Stickwork is crucial in the game of lacrosse. Whether you are a goalie clearing the ball after a big save, a defender bringing the ball up field, a midfielder in transition or an attacker in the 8-meter, good stickwork is a key component to all players.
Playing wall ball is always helpful, but practicing stickwork on the move is much more beneficial. If you have a couple friends, the drills described below are a great way to practice stickwork on the move, and all you need is a field, your sticks and a ball.
(Not the) Monkey in the Middle
Each variation of this drill should be done so that each partner takes a turn in the middle (the Monkey). Partner 1 refers to the girl on the left side and Partner 2 refers to the girl on the right side.
1. The two girls on the outside are passing with their strong hands one way down the field, and their weak hands coming back. The Monkey first catches the ball right-handed from Partner 1. She then switches to her left hand and passes to Partner 2. Then the Monkey catches with the left hand from Partner 2, switches to the right hand and passes to Partner 1. This process repeats as players run down the field.
2. The girls on the outside are catching offside and throwing strongside. From Partner 1, the Monkey is catching with her left hand over her shoulder and throwing with her left hand to Partner 2. The Monkey switches to her right hand, catches over the shoulder from Partner 2, and throws with the right hand to Partner 1. The process repeats running down the field.
3. The girls on the outside are passing with their strong hands one way down the field, and their weak hands coming back. The Monkey uses her right hand to throw an around-the-back pass to Partner 1. She then receives the catch and throws an around-the-world to the Partner 2. After this is mastered with the dominant hand, try it with the non-dominant hand (see illustration).
The girls on the outside should run, shuffle, or even do karaoke to improve their footwork while passing on the move! The more awkward the movement in practice, the more natural basic movements will seem in a game.
This drill (pictured) works on protecting your stick from a defender, as well as improving your stickwork. This is also done moving down the field. One partner is backpedaling down the field and passing to the attacker, who is protecting her stick from a defender looking for the back-check. It is important for the attacker to catch the ball between her shoulders so the defender cannot check her.
The attacker should be working both her strong and weak hand, as well as her offside. She should also have her "head on a swivel," being aware of her defender. The attacker wants to work on changing the level of her cradles, while making sure that her movements are not too rhythmic and mechanical.
As you get better with this drill, the passer should challenge the attacker by throwing passes that are difficult to catch, so she has to adjust her body to receive the ball, while still protecting her stick.
Each of these drills can be altered to focus on a specific area in which you wish to improve. The more comfortable you get with these drills, the faster you will be able to do them in practice and in a game. Stickwork takes a lot of concentration and practice -- if you don't get it the first time, try over and over again. All the best players in the game had to start somewhere.
Good stickwork is a solid foundation to improve your ability to get around your defenders and also to take your game to the next level!
Sarah Albrecht, Kristen Kjellman and Lindsey Munday played together at Northwestern and are members of the 2006-07 U.S. Elite team. Kjellman, who won the 2006 Tewaaraton Trophy, is in her senior year for the Wildcats. Munday and Albrecht are first-year assistant coaches at Northwestern and Massachusetts, respectively.
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