Practicing your ground ball skills is one of the most important things you can do to make yourself more valuable as a lacrosse player. Many coaches will stand by the statement "Ground balls win games" and if you watch professional teams you'll see that this holds up.
How do I get better at lacrosse ground balls?
As with any skill the only way to improve is through regular training. There are three fundamental lacrosse ground ball drills beginners tend to benefit from, which we've outlined here. If you're not training as part of a team, you can use a lacrosse rebounder to simulate ground balls by bouncing off net so the ball rebounds to the ground and rolls.
One on one ground ball drill (with outlet)
This drill involves three groups of players, arranged in three lines with around five yards separating them. The aim is to develop ground ball skills, specifically scooping as well as improving the passing technique.
The coach rolls a ground ball out between the lines. Line A and B players compete to scoop the ball successfully. Whichever team manages to gain possession becomes the offensive team. The other team plays defense and their aim is to block that team from making a successful outlet pass to the player in line C.
Five yard scoop drill
This is a great drill for beginners still developing their ball skills, and is also good for increasing fitness and stamina. The players stand in a line, each with a ball held in their lacrosse stick.
On the whistle, players roll their ball out onto the field directly ahead of them, aiming for it to stop around five yards away from their feet.
On the next whistle, the players run out, get into the scoop position (but without touching the ball) and freeze in place. This allows the coach to review each player's form.
On the third and final whistle, players complete the scoop and run to the next line, where the drill can be repeated.
Man / ball drill
Man/ball is a traditional lacrosse drill used in youth practices everywhere. It teaches players how to work together to pick up ground balls as a team.
This drill is designed to develop the teamwork needed to successfully win possession during a ground ball situation. Players are divided into three defensive lines and two offensive lines. The order should be defensive, offensive, defensive, offensive, defensive.
On the whistle, the first player from each line runs out as the coach rolls a ground ball. The aim is to gain control of the ball, working with your team to beat the opposition. Whichever team gains the ball has to then complete a pass successfully to win a point. The drill then repeats with the second player in each line.
What technique is the best way to pick up a loose ground ball?
There are slightly different techniques depending on the exact positioning of the ball, whether you're stationary or on the run, and the condition of the field. But there are a few basic rules which apply in any ground ball situation:
- Don't take your eye off the ball - this one seems obvious but it's surprising how easily you can be distracted for a moment.
- Place your front foot at the side of the ball - this provides stability and ensures you are in the right position to scoop the ball up.
- Keep your stick horizontal - it should be parallel to the ground as you move towards the ball.
- Place your hands correctly on the stick - your top hand should be just below the head, and your bottom hand should be at the butt.
- Bend at the knees - don't bend from the hips and lean forward, reaching for the ball, as there's a risk you may lose your balance
- Scoop through the ball - don't stab at it, but scoop smoothly into it and up away from the ground in a single fluid movement.