Ah yes. Here we are staring down the slowest part of the summer. The best part of the summer some say - when time seems endlessly available, the sun won't quit, and there is no-where anyone has to be...no camp, no games, nothing but unstructured time.
Our family chooses to spend these days at the beach - sunburned, body surfing and snacking on watermelon.
[insert sound of record player screeching to a stop.]
REALITY IS - that fills about half of our day and then the rest is spent listening to our two lax kids saying, 'what do I do now?'
During the summer you signed your kids up for summer lax clinic/camp to keep them learning new skills. Why not use the 'summer slows' to continue that effort in a less structured and more fun loving way?
WALL BALL ANYONE?
Wall ball is great for building muscle memory and to keep him/her working with the crosse. Every lacrosse coach out there will tell you that the best place to build stick confidence is the wall. You can mix it up (left hand, right hand, behind the back, one handed, the list of options is endless) but what if you are at the beach and there's no wall around?
We spent some time with Jessica Rickershauser, head coach for River Dell High School's girls lacrosse team getting some ideas. The girls who take Jess's clinics love her approach - so we knew she would have great ideas for us to pass along.
Jess suggested that wlax players in their younger years should be focusing on building well- formed lasting habits and getting comfortable with their sticks. It is hard for new players to just go outside and throw around; they may get discouraged because, at first, they aren’t catching and throwing very well. Confidence with the crosse comes with time invested - but that time can include some stick tricks and fun and games. Chances are if your 10- year- old can master the side wall catch, they are also building great eye-hand coordination that translates to field play.
Here's some ideas we got from talking to Jessica. Keep in mind your player will progress at their own pace so encourage experimentation!
1) Simple bounce and catch. You know how this works - like using a tennis ball and racquet but with a lax stick. Keep it challenging and fun by changing hands. Move to bouncing the ball between your feet, then try to catch it behind your back. THIS ONE CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE and is great for beginners.
2) Ground ball practice. What does your coach say? Yup. Ground Balls WIN GAMES. So drop a ball at either end of the lawn, scoop and run. Drop it then repeat. If you've got a friend (or parent) around, have them roll them for moving ball practice. Beth Larkin, 2010 NJ Coach of the Year has a great video that offers some inspiration.
(video credit to Beth Larkin and Championship Productions)
3) Series Challenges. Grab a friend and use different passes and catches to get comfortable with your stick and build wrist strength. Keep CREATIVE by throwing and catching in different ways - one handed throwing and catching, underhanded, behind the back, under the leg, crossover catches and throws, etc. Use both your left and right and try to increase your success rate each time you play!
4) Stick Tricks. The motorcycle or the catch on the side wall - these can also be done solo - ANYWHERE. None of them are easy to master but the practice time is improving eye hand skills, so the process is half the reward. By the way, when you DO conquer even ONE of them you will look wicked cool showing off on the sidelines.
AND THE ABSOLUTE BEST ONE ON THE LIST...
5) HORSE. Yes we mean like when you play basketball, but this time try to mimic the throw and grab or the shot on goal from a set distance. If you don't have a goal around, stick to the throw and grab option. This game can be as silly or as serious as you want to make it. Close your eyes, turn around and throw it through your legs, throw one handed on one foot after twisting helicopter style a few times. Do whatever you want and then see if your friend can keep up!
MOVE PAST THE FUN IN THE SUN?
There may be kids out there that are not easily entertained by the hours of time it will take to get the 'roll down the stick into a side wall catch' and for those we recommend getting a friend or a trashcan out and creating some dodging drills or some one on one time. One on one drills are great for practicing dodges and individual defense.
Still not enough? Kick it up a notch and work on a 2 v goal drill if you are really up to it
For us, during the short 'no official lax to go to' summer break, the movements and non-verbal communication needed for a 2 v goal drill gets too close to real clinic/practice drills. And while it's only days away - why not wait until fall for those and get back to the beach.
Happy summer. See you for fall ball shortly.