Lacrosse shooting: 9 tips to improve accuracy

If your child plays golf, tennis, baseball or softball, he uses some of the same fundamentals needed for making lacrosse shots. Breaking down the lacrosse shooting skill into easy-to-follow parts before putting the whole skill together will help your child improve in each area and develop the best combination of speed and accuracy.

1. Use the graduated length method

When teaching youngsters any new sport skill, it’s a good idea to start close to the net, goal or basket and move farther back as they learn to control a shot. Begin your shooting lessons near the goal so that their initial shots go into the net, giving them success and preventing you from having to chase balls after misses.

2. Experiment with hand placement

Lacrosse players spread their hands apart for catching, but this isn’t good for shooting because you can’t accelerate the stick. Placing both hands together at the bottom of the stick increases stick speed, but creates a loss of control. Have your child experiment with different hand placements to learn where he gets the best combination of placement and control.

Many lacrosse players put one hand near the bottom of the stick and one toward the middle. You can measure where to place the higher hand by holding the stick one-handed with the higher hand. Straighten the arm and the butt of the stick should rest in the middle of your elbow. Put the second hand toward the bottom, then have your player decide if she wants to move the top hand up or down a bit.

Practice catching balls with hands far apart, with the upper hand near the pocket, then quickly sliding the hands closer together to the shooting position. Once you have your hand placement decided, teach your players to keep their elbows away from their body to start swings.

3. Practice different backswings

The farther back you take a golf club, baseball bat, tennis racquet or lacrosse stick, the more acceleration and speed you can generate on the forward swing. You won’t need as much speed if you’re closer to the goal, where accuracy is a premium. Practice longer and shorter backswings so your child sees the difference in the results. You can take long swings when you’re close to the opponent’s goal if you have time, but if you’re being rushed, a short, quick swing might be all you have time for.

4. Accelerate the hips

For golf, tennis, baseball and lacrosse swings, the movement starts in the lower legs, with the thighs, hips and torso accelerating the smaller arms. Trying to shoot only with the arms decreases most of a player’s potential power and stick speed. To generate a more whip-like motion, have your child practice opening the hips slightly before the upper body and arms. This will help collapse the elbows in somewhat and speed up the arms.

5. Practice footwork

Teach your player to plant the front foot to get weight on the front leg before moving the hips forward. The toe of the back foot should be pointing at the ground with the heel up after a shot, or the back foot might even whip around in front of the front leg if the hip accelerates fast enough. If you shoot without this type of dynamic balance (flat-footed or off your back foot), you won’t be able to use as much lower body and core to accelerate the upper body arms. Shooting off the back foot results in a weaker, arms-only shot.

Have your child also practice “baby steps” or adjusting steps to the left, right, backward and forward, which she will have to do when in traffic. After making a few adjusting steps to the left, right or backward, your player will need to take the last step forward to accelerate the hips properly.

6. Practice off both sides

If a child can only shoot from one side, defenders will pick up on that and have an advantage trying to block shots. Teach your child to shoot off both sides. Don’t forget to start with the correct footwork for left- and right-handed shooting.

7. Teach overhand, sidearm & underhand techniques

Lacrosse players will need all three of these shooting techniques to help them make shots after picking up ground balls, catching balls at different heights and to avoid defenders.

8. Practice with different sticks

Even if your child knows his stick size, practicing with different length sticks forces him to practice different levels of control and power.

9. Practice on the run

Once your child has developed her fundamentals of hand placement, backswing, footwork and hip acceleration, have her practice these skill while running. Start slowly at first, at a jog, and then raise the speed as she gains control. Practice catching on the run and quickly shooting while still moving.

RELATED: Tips on purchasing a youth lacrosse stick

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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