Shoot, Score, Win!
part of an E-Lacrosse Interview with Trish Cummings
One of the most sought after skill sets in the game of lacrosse is shooting. In this month's column, I will discuss the shooting strategies and secrets necessary to become a top-notch scoring threat. I will also provide a variety of drills to enhance overall shooting performance and the inside scoop on how to perfect that spectacular shot on goal.
Always remember the main objective of this sport - the lacrosse team who scores more goals in a game will be the winner. Period. Therefore, the main emphasis here will be to give you the opportunity to feel prepared and comfortable with shooting in front of the goal.
Just remember what the experts say - practice makes perfect!
Personal Shooting Strategy
A fundamental skill of the game; shooting requires extreme accuracy and precision. Players should focus on correct hand and body positioning during the act of shooting. Here are a couple ideas used to plan effective shooting approaches or strategies. First, think to yourself, "I am aiming to throw the ball at a target." Then, visualize a shift in body weight following through with your stick towards the goal. It is critical to maintain the proper shooting distance, keeping yourself away from shooting directly on the crease circle or from shooting too far out beyond the 8m. Work on finding a happy medium for yourself between the two distances and then be able to visualize your "spots."
It takes an endless effort and a great amount of practice to master this fine art of shooting on goal. Visualization will help you get there. Great lacrosse players develop their own unique shooting style within the parameters of their coach's instruction and the rules of the game.
The Three P's of Shooting
There are three P-words to remember that make learning how to shoot easy: Placement, Precision and Power. Combining these three will make you a shooter.
Placement: Aim for an exact spot in the goal. It is best to aim for one of the upper or lower corners of the goal. Shoot around the goalie, not at her. Focus on shooting in the empty spaces of the net. Placement is key!
Precision: players want to become very precise with their shooting patterns. Develop approaches or "moves" to the goal with and without the ball. This way, when you do get your opportunity, you won't just shoot to get rid of the ball at the last minute. You'll be comfortable enough to shoot to score with precision.
Power: With plenty of practice, you'll develop a strong, hard and powerful shot on goal. Use all of your upper and lower body strength together to generate power, following through towards the goal target. Sliding your top hand down the stick, as you shoot can increase shot speed. It will give you more leverage and therefore, more power.
There are a variety of drills to enhance overall shooting performance.
The shooting shuttle: Most effective during a team practice or game warm-up, the shooting shuttle requires at least 10 people. There are two lines with 5-7 people in each. Set up the lines opposite from one another, similar to a regular shuttle drill, outside the 12m shooting space areas and parallel to the goal. The first player in one line begins by throwing to the first person in the opposite line and then cutting to the goal. The player who now has the ball feeds the cutter who receives the pass, takes a couple cradles towards cage, and fires a shot on goal. It becomes a continuous drill so have many balls ready. Each person needs to be prepared with a ball in one line. After the ball is thrown to the cutter, the feeder runs to end of the cutter line. Cutters, go to the feeder line after they shoot. A shooting shuttle drill allows players to work on the other fundamental skills of cradling, throwing and catching, while also becoming a star shooter!
Two Person Drill. Practice shooting with a friend. The basic idea is to have a feeder (person who is throwing the pass) with balls behind the goal. Put the balls where the feeder will not step on them while moving around behind the goal providing feeds from various angles. The shooter cuts towards the feeder and takes shots on goal until all of the balls are in the goal or need to be chased down from misses. Then set it up again and change roles on the field. This drill is a good workout and quickens reaction time. One must think "catch, take one cradle and shoot!" It can be a very effective shooting drill with intense focus and concentration of both players.
Individual Drill. Bring about 20 balls to the goal. You can stand between the 8-12m areas and just shoot at first as a fairly relaxed drill. Work on outside shots and to cover a variety of shooting angles. At the same time, you could also use this opportunity to practice 8m shots. A few key ideas for an 8m is to have a quick first step off the line, aim for the corners and shoot to score. Step it up and run through all the shots. After all, you rarely get a shot in a game standing still.
There are a number of ways to practice shooting at the goal. I have presented you with the team, friend, and individual shooting drills. It is now up to you. Use your imagination. Be creative and build an arsenal of outstanding shots!
The Inside Scoop
Here is it: the moment you have all been waiting for: The inside scoop that can make players not only average, but All-American shooters in the game of lacrosse.
FAKING: You must learn to fake the goalkeeper before shooting. Pump fake your shot or throw an extra cradle at her. You can fake the shot high for the corners and then shoot it low, fake low for the corners and then shoot it high, or any combination. It gives you the opportunity to move the goalkeeper one way and then shoot the other. The main idea is to catch the goalkeeper off guard, which forces her to lose balance and get out of position in the cage. Remember to give yourself an extra second to throw a pump fake before the defenders get too close.
GETTING OPEN: You must learn to get open (stick and body) before shooting. Work on getting past a defender, then focus on taking a good shot at the goal. Players should practice their own deceptive moves to setup higher percentage scoring opportunities for themselves. Change of speed and direction is an effective deception with and without the ball. You should develop your own style of shooting but it is also very important to learn the most effective ways of getting yourself open before you'll get the opportunity to take that amazing shot on goal!
DON'T RUSH: Learn to give yourself enough time before shooting. Take those few extra seconds to focus on the goal cage, fake and shoot into the open spaces of the net. You should always keep your eyes open, head up, looking for the highest percentage scoring moment. When handling the ball in front of the goal, remain calm, patient, and relaxed at all times. There is no need to rush a non-desirable shot which could lead to a change of possession. Maintain the composure and confidence needed to make the best decisions on the field.
So now you have some great strategies, fundamentals, drills and the inside scoop on how to perfect that spectacular shot on goal. You can do it! Time is valuable and precious. Therefore, make the most of your ability and work NOW on becoming an all-star lacrosse shooter!