Xcelerate Nike Lacrosse National Program Director, Brian Lalley, goes through the keys of stick protection:
Ball security is something you hear talked about all the time in the sport of football. The importance of field position and not giving up possessions to your opponent. This is so important in football because it doesn’t generally happen at a high frequency, so a big turnover can be the biggest difference in the game. It not only gives the possession to the other team, but it generally is partnered with a big momentum boost. There are naturally a lot more turnovers in a lacrosse game than a football game. But where are they occurring? We should be able to minimize personal and team turnovers with good stick protection.
The basic rule in protecting your stick is to keep your body in between your stick and your pursuing defender. A great way to see if you’re doing this correctly is to practice cradling in a mirror. While looking in the mirror, you should not be able to see the head of your lacrosse stick. What you see in the mirror is what your defender sees. Make sure you have your top hand up by the plastic and your bottom hand by your butt end which will allow you to support your whole stick and absorb checks between your hands.
Our cradle is also very important to stick protection. New players tend to run around holding their stick flat and the ball rattles around in their pocket. Cradling not only keeps the ball in the pocket of our stick, but it also makes our stick a moving target, making it harder on the defensemen with crafty stick checks.
Change of Speed and Direction
The next most important piece to protecting our stick is change of speed and direction. If we are just running in a straight line, or even worse, not running at all, we become a much easier / predictable target for a defender. Throwing and landing a good stick check requires good timing and anticipation of the ball-carrier’s movements. Changing our speed and direction will make that timing and anticipation much harder for the defender trying to dislodge the ball.
Rotate Hips and Shoulders with the Check
As a defender throws a check, either in front or behind you, it is important to turn your hips and shoulders with it. This will take the head of your stick away from the check while still keeping your body between you and your defender.
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