Every lacrosse player and coach knows that possession wins the game. Faceoff allows you to gain possession at the beginning of each quarter and after every goal; ground balls lend both teams an opportunity to win extra offensive play and scoring opportunities throughout the games. This is why defensive and offensive players aggressively fight for every ground ball.
Before we proceed, let me quickly define the term ground ball, which refers to loose balls on the field that are in possession of neither team. Typically ground balls make up the most exciting parts of the game as it’s a 50/50 coinflip that could lead to any outcome.
Therefore, whether you are a beginner player or an advanced player, scooping in lacrosse is a fundamental and crucial skill that every player needs to learn. The idea might seem easy, you want to learn the correct and effective techniques to be able to compete against the most advanced and swift defenders.
In this post, you will learn everything in regards to ground balls and the best scooping techniques and drills you should start doing so that you can dominate the possession and win more games.
It’s time to snatch up some balls!
What You Need to Know About Ground Balls
When you show you are a player who is willing to fight tooth and nail for ground balls, you have proven to your coach that you are an invaluable asset to the team. Therefore, even if you aren’t fast enough to be the most commanding and dominating player, make sure you get skilled at scooping and put in 100% effort to get those ground balls.
There are a few ways for ground balls to take place during a game.
The most likely scenario is a ground ball scrum where a crowd of players goes head to head for a ground ball. In this case, you are very likely to lose the ball by being checked or smacked, so be prepared for a furious fight and stay vigilant.
Another common scenario is 1-v-1 or 2-v-2, which requires you to focus on actually getting the possession by scooping the ground ball and quickly passing or running out of the danger zone.
The last scenario is when a ground ball bounces off of the field freely as defenders constantly try to steal the ball. In this case, a good running skill will come in handy for players.
How To Scoop Ground Balls
When scooping the ground ball, make sure you are using your stick and hand correctly. Position your top hand at least 6 to 12 inches from the butt end of the shaft with all four fingers wrapped around underneath and thumb resting on top so that only three knuckles are exposed; keep both thumbs pointed down the stick. Place your bottom hand on top of the shaft just below your top hand, with fingers parallel to the ground, and your thumb pointed up. It will give you maximum control over the stick and allow you to move it in any direction quickly.
In terms of positioning, depending on where your opponent(s) are coming, you want to step out the foot that’s closest to the defenders to box them out. Get nice and low. This is key. You can’t get a good scoop without going low and bending your knees. After you are in possession, bring the stick close to your body as opponents will at this time try to strip off the ball.
On the high level, these are the key components to knock out. Consistent practices make you perfect, so spend time honing your scooping skills!
How To Get Better At Ground Balls
It’s easier said than done when it comes to getting better at ground balls. When picking up a ground ball, always approach it from behind so that you can see the ball and the stick at the same time. Then, use your off-hand to reach down and grab the ball while keeping your stick parallel to the ground. Finally, pull the ball up and into your stick with your top hand.
Follow these steps to get better at ground balls:
Step 1: Grip The Lacrosse Stick Properly
Grip the lacrosse stick with your dominant hand and place your non-dominant hand on top of the grip
Step 2: Bend The Knees And Get Low
Eyes on the ball, get low and your stick should be as parallel to the ground as it can be
Step 3: Quickly Scoop The Ball
Once you are in position and in a good form, quickly scoop up the ground ball
Step 4: Take Hold of The Ball
Bring the stick close to your body for protection using your dominant hand and then continue on
Step 5: Rinse And Repeat
Continue to repeat steps 3 and 4 for the next ground balls
What Happens Next After In Possession?
Once you have the ball in your stick, it’s time to start moving up the field. There are a few different ways to do this, but I recommend using a V-shaped approach.
To use the V technique, hold your lacrosse stick with both hands about shoulder-width apart. Point your dominant thumb down at the ground and keep your fingers together. When you see the ball coming towards you, use your wrists to quickly flip your hands over so that your palms are facing upwards and your thumbs point towards the sky.
It will create a “V” shape with both hands as you scoop up the ball from below it. The motion is similar to flipping an egg over in a frying pan, only instead of having two separate motions (one for each hand), there should be one smooth motion between both hands when using this technique.
A Simple Scoop Trick for Everyone
Placing a bunch of balls on a field and running around with them, and scooping them up correctly is a convenient way to practice. You can then pass the ball upfield to an open teammate or empty goal to practice moving the ball upfield.
If possible, make sure people are actually rolling the ball on the ground towards you/away from you, even with a little bounce. Also, remember to be running throughout the practice.
Picking up dead balls simply won’t be as helpful and productive as practices aim to emulate a real match scenario. Both new and experienced lacrosse players can benefit from this drill.
In addition, some of the balls can be placed over sticks to practice scooping them up. The stick will disrupt your game just enough to force you to work for it or force you to goose the ball. It requires determination to get that ball, so don’t take it lightly, even if you’re working on it alone. Regardless of who tries to stop you, you need to be fierce and aggressive enough to get the ball. Whoever wants it the most will always succeed.
To level up your everyday practice:
Getting good at ground balls is a critical skill in lacrosse that can help you win games. Absorb the knowledge and use techniques outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to pick up ground balls on offense or defense quickly and keep the ball out of your opponent’s hands. Practice frequently so that the motion becomes natural – then you can concentrate on scoring goals or stopping goals!
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