STXBall “Soft Lacrosse”
Try these simple drills first and then make the drills harder as the kids’ skills improve.
Drill #1: Learn How To Cradle (Need One Stick And Ball For Every 8 Kids)
The kids are going to run with two hands on the stick and the ball in the stick. Some kids hold the stick up close to their head; some hold it close to their waist. Whichever way is most comfortable for them, just let them run and develop a feel for the ball in the stick. Kids should have one hand close to the head of the stick (top hand). The top hand grabs the stick with the palm facing up. The other hand (bottom hand) holds the end of the stick with the palm facing down. Cradling is the back and forth motion of bringing the stick from your waist up to your head and back down or bringing the stick from your right side across your body to your left side and back again. Have the kids try both cradling styles and EXAGERATE the motions. Have the kids try right handed and left handed cradles (by switching the top hand from the right hand to the left hand). Then have the kids start running and the cradling motion will feel natural for them. As the kids get better with practice, the cradling motion will get smaller and smaller – the arm will barely move and just the wrist of the top hand will move back and forth.
The best beginner’s drill is to split into groups of four and have the groups face each other across the gym floor. Have one kid run to the other group and pass off the stick to the person in the front of that line. The first kid goes to the back of that line. When the second kid gets to the first group, he hands off the stick again and moves to the back of that line. That way, there will always be four kids in each group. This drill continues for 10-15 minutes. One advanced variation is to have the kids carry the stick in their right hand going one way and carry it in their left hand going back. Another advanced variation is to setup an obstacle course with cones and have the kids run through it. When finished, they hand off their stick to the next kid and move to the end of the line.
Drill #2: Learn How To Throw and Catch (Need 1 Stick & Ball For Every 4 Kids)
Have the groups (of four kids) face the gym wall. Tell the first kid in line to pick a spot on the wall and try to throw the ball at that spot and catch the ball on the rebound. After completing 3-4 catches, the first kid hands the stick to the next kid in line. One advanced variation is to have the kids throw 3-4 catches with their right hand and then 3-4 catches with their left hand. Like dribbling in basketball, the kids will need to get comfortable using both their right and left hands to play lacrosse. Another advanced variation is to have two groups face each other and throw the ball back and forth in a game of catch. After 3-4 catches, the next kids in line take their turn. This drill continues for 10-15 minutes. Point #1: It’s easier to play catch against a wall than to play catch with someone else. The throws are more accurate which makes catching easier. Point #2: Teaching the kids to pick a spot on the wall will help them later on when they are shooting on goal and aiming for a corner of the net.
Drill #3: Learn How To Scoop (Need 1 Stick & Ball For Every 4 Kids)
This is the hardest drill (although you’d think it was the easiest). It’s also one of the most important. I like to tell the kids the team that wins the most ground balls usually wins the game. Have the groups face each other across HALF of the gym floor. (Using the full gym floor won’t work with beginners.) The first kid rolls the ball (with his hand) to the kid in the other line who tries to pick up the ball as it comes to him. This is called picking up a ground ball or scooping a loose ball. The key to picking up a ground ball is (1) staying low to the ground with knees bent like you were picking up a grounder in baseball. The difference in lacrosse is you’ve got your right foot forward and left foot back if scooping with your right hand (similar to shoveling snow) and reversed if scooping with your left hand. One advanced variation would be alternating scoops with your right hand and left hand. Another advanced variation would be teaching the kids to scoop with the ball rolling away from them. For beginners, it can’t be done. In this drill the second kid in line rolls the ball out for the first kid to chase down and scoop from behind. (Use the full gym for this drill.) After scooping, the kid cradles the ball and sprints to the end line. When he gets to the next line, he hands off the ball to the second kid in line who rolls it out for the first kid in that line. Both lines are facing each other and alternating the scoop drill. Good luck with this one, but remember it’s a lot of fun and extremely enjoyable for the kids. This drill continues for 10-15 minutes.
Game Time: Simple Rules (Two 10-Minute Halves Running Time)
6-On-6 with no goalie. Home team starts the game with a pass to one of its players. NO STICK CHECKING (one minute penalty for violation). Team must complete two consecutive passes before trying to shoot on goal. On a loose ball, the first kid to cover the ball with his stick gets to keep possession. If the ball goes out of bounds, possession goes to the other team. If there is a goal, possession goes to the other team. It’s a great game – and a good way for kids to learn the basic skills of lacrosse. Please send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.