5 athletic skills that best translate to playing lacrosse

Is your child ready for a new sport? Lacrosse could be a good landing spot. Before making the switch, consider the type of athletic skills that transfer well to lacrosse.

Athletes use a number of general physical skills to perform a wide variety of sports skills. The most common of these tasks include:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Striking
  • Catching
  • Throwing

Throwing, for example, is used for passing a football, pitching a baseball or serving in tennis. Striking is used for batting, golfing, tennis, hockey, and field hockey. The body movements in passing, pitching and serving are very similar, as are the movements for batting, driving, forehands and slap shots.

Because lacrosse uses so many of the general sport skills to pass, scoop, catch, defend and shoot, parents who’ve never played the sport can still help their children improve their lacrosse game using a variety of fun games, drills and exercises.


Lacrosse players need to make short, quick lateral, forward and backward movements, making footwork an important skill. Kids will also need to develop speed to run long sprints. Practice running and footwork skills with and without a stick to help kids develop balance, agility, speed and quickness. Drills can include straight sprints, running through, over and around obstacles, shuffling sideways, running on a 45-angle and backwards and stopping and starting several times down the field.

Teach your child how to run with a stick in her hands so she learns how to hold the stick and pump her arms during long runs. She should develop a rhythm that helps propel her. Have her practice footwork with the stick on the left side of her body and the right side so that she can do either effectively during a game. Kicking is not an integral part of lacrosse, but it does occur, so practice a bit of kicking, with mom or dad acting as a defender crowing your child.


The higher your child can jump, the more balls he can catch, block, steal and shoot effectively. Practice the drills included in the Youthletic article 9 Exercises to Increase an Athlete's Vertical Jump. Work on jumping with and without a stick, starting on the left and right foot and landing on the left and right foot. Remember, every jump requires a landing, so help your child learn how to land on balance and in ways that let him keep running after a jump.


Even though you don’t hit a ball in lacrosse, the shooting motion is similar to batting or driving or hitting a forehand because of the way the body moves during the shot. Ask your child to imitate a lacrosse shot without a stick, and then make batting, driving and groundstroke motions. Ask her how they are similar and help her find the common movement by focusing on the hip. The hips should open slightly before the upper body to help accelerate the arms through the shot.

Practice shooting overhand, underhand and from the side, and from both sides of the body. Pay attention to planting the weight on the front foot first, then opening up the hips, and then letting the arms whip through. Notice how the wrists break at the end of the shot.


Whether it’s receiving a football, catching a softball or baseball, stopping a hockey shot in the goal, making a tennis volley at the net or securing a lacrosse ball in the pocket, the task requires mastery of the basic catching skill. This is often referred to as “hand-eye coordination.”

In addition to practicing lacrosse catches (off both sides of the body), have your child practice catching footballs and softballs with and without a glove. Practice catching from different distances and at different heights. Don’t forget to add ground balls. You don’t need a tennis court to practice volleys and half-volleys if you have a driveway or other flat surface. Have your child practice throwing baseballs, softballs and lacrosse balls to a target as soon as she catches them so he develops a quick catch-and-release skill.


An overhand lacrosse shot, even with two hands, uses some similar mechanics to an overhand ball throw. The similarities include the planting of the front foot, early acceleration of the hips and the opening of the shoulder, all combining to help whip the arms forward. Each practice, spend a few minutes throwing a ball both left- and right-handed, focusing on the legs to start the action, a large core turn, the opening of the hips and a good follow through of the arm after the shoulder moves it forward.

After practicing throwing, have your child practice a few two-handed lacrosse shots so she sees the similarities and understands the importance of the feet, legs, hips, core and trunk to shooting.

What are your thoughts? Has your child shown an interest in playing lacrosse? Share your experiences in the comment section below of on our Facebook page

RELATED: INFOGRAPHIC: A crash course for parents new to lacrosse

Steve Milano

Steve Milano has been writing and lecturing on youth sports for more than 25 years. He ... View Full Bio

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