One thing many beginner laxers ignored in their early years of training that often led to frustration and growth stagnation is not working on their off hands. I have seen many players who have become too comfortable with their dominant hands but overlooked their weak hands. To be a versatile and unpredictable threat, you need to have the capacity to play with both hands. This post is all about how to improve off-hand in lacrosse.
As an attacker, the ability to shoot with both hands unlocks the opportunities and shooting angles otherwise wouldn’t exist. These opportunities are hard to come by, so if you can create an open for yourself, you should do the best you can to convert it into a score. Because of this, the best way to improve your chance to convert a shot into a goal is to strengthen your off-hand.
In this post, let’s walk through some good lacrosse practices and tips that target your weak hand. If you already made up your mind to work on it, I promise you will see improvement in no time.
Repetition is king
There will be no magic trick that makes your off-hand perfect overnight, but there’s a for sure way to improve which is repetition. I know this isn’t the most groundbreaking answer you found but this is the best way to succeed.
Put away some time such as a week or two to fully focus on practicing with your off-hand. The rule is simple; anytime you touch a lacrosse stick, you are using your off-hand.
The start of the week is the most challenging part as you got so used to using your dominant hand. It’s ok if your form is bad and you are dropping a few balls. The transition will be painful but it’s worth it. So, go slowly at first and make sure your shooting mechanics is correct.
In terms of the timing, I suggest you spend some time during pre-season to work on your off-hand rather than during the season.
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Find a wall
You saw it coming. The good old favorite of every laxer, wall ball is the best and most effective way to seriously improve your non-dominant hand. Nothing fancy is required. Find a concrete wall outside or utilize a rebounder in your backyard. If you want results fast, I recommend two sets, 20 minutes each, 40 minutes in total.
Keep up the pace and don’t give up. You will struggle during the first few sets. Your off-hand doesn’t have muscle memory; it will not perform the level you are used to with your dominant hand. It will be uncomfortable, but that’s exactly why you are doing it. So the key here is to set the clock to 20 minutes and no matter what, you will need to finish it.
As someone who hates wasting time, if I am already spending a chunk of my day doing it, I would do my best to do it well. 40 minutes every day doesn’t seem like much the first three days, but if you add the time together and understand compounding, you will be surprised to know by the end how much you have improved.
How to wall ball correctly
If you haven’t read my post on wall ball, here’s an excerpt that is taken from that post that will ensure you do it correctly:
- Keep your feet moving at all times: Never stand straight without bending your knee and staying flat on your feet. Keep your feet light and quick
- Try to aim the same spot or a certain part of the wall: Wall ball should be treated as a shooting practice so pick a spot on the wall and try to hit it every time
- Practice both hands: Make sure you are practicing both hands equally. Also, feel free to focus on improving your weak hand
- Keep the stick by your ear: Maintain the triple threat position at all times without dropping the stick below your shoulders
- Hand placement: Keep your non-dominant at the bottom of the stick and practice with the dominant hand near the bottom, middle and top
- Minimize cradling: Learn to catch the ball and shoot it right out of the stick without too much cradling
Take a look at a simple off-hand routine as a reference. Feel free to change it up and level up the difficulty.
|Throw & Catch||50 Reps||3 sets|
|Quickstick||50 Reps||3 sets|
|Throw & Catch on the run||50 Reps||3 sets|
The goal is to give you an idea of how to structure your wall ball routine. Instead of throwing it around to kill time, a plan makes the practice more productive. Watch below for some additional off-hand practice ideas:
Now we have nailed the fundamentals, it’s time to talk about shooting with your off-hand. Start with shooting with your off-hand a couple times to familiarize yourself with your body mechanics. Go slowly at first to break down and study your shot form to ensure there are no hiccups in your technique. I recommend videotaping yourself using both your dominant and off-hand. Compare the two shot forms side by side. Pay attention to how your arms are extending themselves and how your body is rotating in both forms. Keep honing in and correcting your off-hand shooting mechanics. This ensures you steadily improve the accuracy and quality of your off-hand shots.
To learn the best shooting form: how to shoot in lacrosse
In addition, the last step to further polish your off-hand shooting is to shoot with targets. Once you have solid off-hand shot form, time to work on your release. You will need a couple of shooting targets and a portable goal. Attach targets to the corners of the goal and try to hit them with your off-hand shots.
If you are having a hard time hitting them, notice how far or how close your shots are to the targets. For example, if your shots consistently go over the targets, you want to taper your release a little by snapping your wrists later. If your shots consistently go below the targets, you want to release the ball early by snapping your wrists earlier. From there, time to tinker with your shots to find the best release point.
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Do everything with your off-hand
Now you can pass and shoot with your off-hand, but is it necessary to learn how to scoop the ground ball and a cradle using off-hand as well? The answer is yes, in fact, I would even go an extra mile to suggest even using your off-hand outside of lacrosse.
To build muscle memory as quickly as possible, you want to use your off-hand as much as possible. Anything that you used to do with your dominant hand needs to be done using your off-hand. This includes cradling, passing, shooting and ground balls. This comfort of using your off-hand soon translates to confidence in your off-hand as well.
I remembered my coach once told me even when not practicing lacrosse, I should incorporate my off-hand into simple daily tasks, such as brushing teeth, eating and texting with my left hand. At first, I shrugged it off as a stupid idea.
But soon enough I found how difficult it is to actually brush your teeth with your weak hand. It requires a great amount of coordination to perform this simple task. After doing it for some time, I definitely feel the improvement of using my off-hand to do more exquisite tasks. So oddly enough, brushing teeth is actually a great off-hand exercise you should definitely consider.
I hope this post has given you the game plan you need to get started improving your off-hand. It will certainly be awkward and uncomfortable in the beginning, but you must learn to embrace that cumbersome feeling that comes with growing. Remember if you feel uncomfortable doing it, chances are most people are too. And if you can follow through and practice constantly, you will improve your off-hand much faster and better than most other players. Especially as a backup player, working on your off-hand could unlock more opportunities for you in the new season.
So time to grab your stick and get to work. I can promise you that you will be so glad you did it in the end.