Cradling a lacrosse ball is much harder than it appears and it’s one of the most frustrating skills for new players to master. It’s an absolutely essential ability to ensure the ball stays with the stick, isn’t dislodged by a misstep, or knocked out by an opposing player. The good news is that with practice, players can effectively learn to cradle a lacrosse ball and make it look easy.
Making a Pocket
Making a pocket is the first step toward effective cradling. The ball needs a secure pocket to rest in so it won’t fly out and isn’t knocked out. Creating a pocket is done by repeatedly pounding the net to cause it to form a deep pocket.
It may sound counterintuitive, but effective stick handling truly begins once players have created a pocket with which they feel comfortable. The dominant hand should be placed on the underside of the stick toward the top. The other hand is placed loosely on the bottom of the stick, with the thumb and fingers forming a circle to act as a stabilizer for the stick.
Ball in the Net
Place the ball in the net and practice bringing it up between face and chest level without losing it from the pocket that’s been created. The ball should stay securely in the pocket no matter where and how the player moves the stick.
One of the most important things a novice player can do is observe the motion of the ball as they maneuver the stick in various positions. Don’t get discouraged or frustrated. Everyone has their share of drops.
The vertical top-handed cradle, horizontal cradle, single-handed cradle, and the bottom-handled cradle are all strategies that artful players utilize for success. Each of the techniques has its own benefits and is typically used in specific circumstances. Once a player has learned the basics, they can begin to master the final cradling techniques that professionals have turned into an art form.