Now more than ever, fields across the country are littered with youngsters eager to learn the game of lacrosse, and for many, the participation in the sport isn't temporary. There are quite a few youngsters look forward to playing in high school but the thought of vying for a starting role on varsity as a freshman can be overwhelming.
However, Christian Harris, Owner of Lowcountry Lacrosse Savannah, says there are several things an upcoming lax player can do to better their game as they transition from middle school to high school.
“What we tell kids is that they have to be able to catch and throw,” said Harris. “They have to be tenacious on ground balls and they have to be coachable. When it comes to which stick to use, younger players aren't allowed to use long poles until they are 12, so starting out with a short stick is the best way to ease into the sport. It's always better to learn the basics on a short stick and then transfer those learned skills over to the long pole."
In terms of how the stick is held, Harris said there is a bit of technique to it.
“When we teach throwing, we want hands at '1' and '2' and when catching, cradling and scooping, we want hands at '1' and '3',” said Harris. “It keeps it simple and easy to remember. The throwing motion is like a lever or catapult where the bottom hand pulls and the top hand pushes.”
Harris also pointed out the style of play is different in the South and playing up North requires a little bit more finesse.
“If we were in the North, things would be different,” said Harris. “They would need to understand that you have to move on offense, you have to play defense with your feet and you have to find the 2v1 in transition. The sport combines aspects of soccer, basketball and hockey so it's high scoring, big hitting, has lots of running and is a ton of fun.”
Defensively, the strategy is simple.
“You have to have great feet,” said Harris. “Defense in lacrosse is exactly like basketball except you're allowed to hit, but it doesn't change the fact that great defense is played with your feet, and not with your stick.”
On the offensive side of things, being able to think ahead, see the play develop and staying cool under pressure is crucial.
“Stick skills and vision are a must,” said Harris. “Great offensive players can catch any pass that's within their radial distance and can throw a pass to another's box from anywhere with or without pressure.”
Simply put, those who are trying to take their game to the next level need to what great athletes do.
“Keep a stick in your hands as often as you can,” said Harris. Take it to the beach, to the park. Do dummy dodges in your room or in your back yard. Find a wall and throw against it for 20 minutes a day. Work on having the best stick skills on the team, in the city and in the state and you'll go very far.”
By Latrice Williams
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