Quality shots win lacrosse games. Shooting more doesn’t mean much if your shots on goal are missing the mark. As with anything, the key to success is strong fundamentals and plenty of practice.
Here are some lacrosse shooting fundamentals to improve the power, speed, and accuracy of your shots.
Find Your Shooting Form
Good shots start with good form. Good form means that, at the moment you begin the shot, your feet should be almost perpendicular to the net with your hips open and knees slightly bent, your opposite shoulder should be nearest to the goal, and your hands should be about 10 to 12 inches apart on the stick. This basic athletic position provides a powerful starting point for any of the three types of lacrosse shots.
As you transition from setup to shot, be sure that you’re moving toward the net to achieve maximum power, speed, and accuracy. Have the stick back behind your head with your elbow up and make sure your arms are away from your body, not tucked in close to your torso. Remember, this phrase: "Elbow low, the ball won't go; elbow high, the ball will fly."
If you shoot from a stationary position, you should drag your back foot along the ground to follow through with the throw. If you shoot on the run, you should step forward, let the ball go, and back-pedal away from the cage.
Perfect Your Hand Position
For the absolute best leverage and power in your shot, your hands need to be positioned correctly on the stick. Your weak (or non-dominant) hand should be at the bottom of the stick with your dominant (strong) hand approximately 10 to 12 inches above it – which should put it at or below the middle of the stick.
This hand position will create leverage when you use a “push-pull” motion to launch your shot. Push with your strong hand (the one highest on the stick) while simultaneously pulling with your weak hand (at the bottom of the stick). This effectively turns your stick into a lever with your strong hand as the fulcrum. Wasn’t it Archimedes who said “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall rule the pitch?” Yeah, Archimedes was down with LAX.
Shoot for the Sod! Aim for the Ants!
Always shoot for the bottom of the net. Always.
Aiming high and shooting for the stars are great motivational platitudes – they’re lousy lacrosse advice. You have a better chance of scoring with a bounce shot versus trying to score at the top of the net.
Ball Handling Basics Drill
The best shooters are the best cradlers and throwers. The best cradlers and throwers have practiced those skills for countless hours, and so should you. Here’s a simple drill you can use to sharpen your lacrosse ball handling.
Find a sturdy, outside wall that won’t be damaged by repeated ball strikes. Use your crosse to throw the ball against the wall, then catch and cradle the ball on the return. To strengthen your dominant and non-dominant hands, you should alternate back and forth between the hand that you're throwing, catching, and cradling with. Start off by doing 50 rounds. First, throw with both hands positioned on the crosse, then practice doing one-handed throws.
Not only will this strengthen your weak hand, but it will make it tougher for defenders to take the ball from you once they realize that you only tend to shoot one particular way.
Use Diverse Shooting Strategies
Even at the beginning level where you will mostly make stationary shots, find ways to be diverse with your shooting. Don't always shoot with your dominant hand. Throw the defender off by sometimes making one-handed shots. As you become a stronger shooter, you will be able to incorporate some of the more complex techniques, such as the side-arm shot and shooting on the run.
These techniques will seem awkward and difficult at first, but as you build up your strength and accuracy, you will be able to learn a variety of shooting techniques that will help you create openings to score.