So your son tells you that his coach said that everyone should “hit the wall” between practices and in the “off” season. Hmm, he’s a little worried because the other boys seemed to know what the heck the coach was talking about. And of course, because he didn’t know what it meant, your boy asked the coach for clarification, right? Yeah right. So like your son and many folks new to lacrosse you are a little perplexed. Fear not as this post will not only explain what wall ball is but will also give you a wall ball routine that is guaranteed to up your son’s skills and his enjoyment of the game. (If you are already familiar with wall ball, scroll down to the routine section below)
Wall ball: verb transitive | wall-ball | US, lacrosse
: the act of throwing a lacrosse ball against a wall or rebounder and catching the rebound.
Pretty simple huh? At its core, wall ball is an invaluable practice technique that is essential for your son to learn the correct catching, throwing and stick handling techniques that he will need to be an effective lacrosse player. The biggest benefit to wall ball is that the repetition allows your son to develop the ‘muscle memory’ needed to give him the confidence to not have to think about those mechanics when in a game situation. Anyone who has played lacrosse will tell you that once the whistle blows, things move pretty quickly. The lacrosse field can be a confusing place, so the fewer things that your son has to think about wrt: his catching and throwing mechanics, the more he can concentrate on the action on the field.
So what wall should you use?
Use common sense here. Lacrosse balls are hard and can do damage, so find a wall that is either brick or cinder block construction. The wall should be pretty large (tall) and not have any windows. There should be plenty of room for your son to maneuver in front of the wall…he should be able to stand at least 20′ away from the wall he is throwing against. Schools often have walls that fit the bill, however prior to using that or any other wall that you don’t own, ask permission first.
Conversely, you can use a lacrosse rebounder. What’s that? A rebounder or bounce back is an apparatus that has a ‘trampoline’ or net surface that rebounds a thrown ball back to the player. Many rebounders can be found anywhere lacrosse gear is sold, both on-line and brick and mortar and could run ~ $200 new. Or you can visit craigslist or ebay for great used options. (I paid $50 for my used trampoline style rebounder ~5 years ago and it is still going strong today…craiglist, easy). Unless your house has a suitable wall, the rebounder option is really the most convenient option.
Ok, I found a wall or rebounder, now what? Print this out or text it to your son.
ROUTINE – make this a habit!
First a few ground rules:
- Wear gloves – you can’t play without gloves so why not get used to wearing them all the time when handling the stick.
- Anything you do with your dominant hand you should be able to do with your non-dominant hand. Playing with both hands will make you an unstoppable weapon on the lacrosse field. Yes, you will suck at it at first, so what, that is what practice is for! Keep at it!
- Focus on quality of reps over speed of reps. If you need to do 50 reps, make them high quality (for example: don’t count drops as a rep) over getting them done quickly.
- Don’t stand flat footed. Make sure your feet are moving and you are on the balls of your feet not your heels.
- Do these routines at least 4 times a week. If you practice twice a week, hit the wall on your off days.
The routine below starts at the beginner level and goes through more advanced techniques. If you are just starting out, start slow and master each section before moving on to the next. If you are more advanced, perform ALL sections that you have mastered every time.
Starting Off – all overhand
- Overhand dominant (one cradle) – 50 reps
- Overhand non-dominant (one cradle) – 50 reps
- Quick stick dominant (no cradle) – 50 reps
- Quick stick non-dominant (no cradle) – 50 reps
Perform for at least 20 minutes if this is the only section being performed
Intermediate – all overhand
- Throw overhand with one hand, catch with the other (one cradle) – 50 reps (25 each hand)
- Quick stick one hand (only one hand holding stick) dominant (no cradle) – 50 reps
- Quick stick one hand (only one hand holding stick) non-dominant (no cradle) – 50 reps
- Quick stick both hands, throw with one hand, catch with the other (no cradle) -50 reps (25 each hand)
Combined duration with first section should be at least 30 minutes
- Cross-arm catch (both sides of the body)
- Sidearm dominant (one cradle) – 50 reps
- Sidearm non-dominant (one cradle) – 50 reps
- Throw sidearm with one hand, catch with the other (one cradle) – 50 reps (25 each hand)
Combined duration with the first two sections should be at least 45 minutes
Elite – check with your coach for this one.
- Behind the back dominant (one cradle) – 50 reps
- Behind the back non-dominant (one cradle) – 50 reps
Performing this routine between practices and in the off season is GUARANTEED to make you a better player.
YOUR COMPETITION IS ON THE WALL RIGHT NOW! GET OUT THERE BOYS!
So now you know. Hey, we are all in this together. Though it is a growing sport, lacrosse likely wasn’t available to you as a kid so how else are you going to learn about this awesome game unless you ask? If you have any questions, suggestions or comments please grab a coach or ask another parent who has already been through this…lacrosse parents have MOJO and love to share it!