New York Lizards Blog

Beginners Corner: How to Play Lacrosse

Posted by Tom Hallissey on Apr 26, 2016 10:00:00 AM

how to play lacrosse

Even though its equipment and terminology are different than other sports, it’s easy to learn how to play lacrosse. If you have never played before, these directions will teach you how to cradle, pass, shoot and more.

What You’ll Need

The Basics of How to Play Lacrosse

Holding the Stick

The lacrosse stick is what players use all game long to pass, catch, shoot and check. It is broken down into three distinct parts:

  • The head is the plastic section attached to the top of a short or long metal pole
  • The pocket is the mesh or leather webbing that holds the lacrosse ball
  • The shaft is the pole players hold while maneuvering the stick

How you hold a lacrosse stick depends on whether you are a righty or a lefty. Your dominant hand should be placed towards the top of the stick, while your weak hand rests at the bottom.

Cradling the Ball

As you run and dodge, the lacrosse ball doesn’t stay in the pocket by itself. Cradling, a process of rocking the head of the stick back and forth, helps you retain possession of the ball.

To cradle, bring the stick across your face while curling the head towards your body. Then, twist the stick back the other way. You can continue the process back and forth.

At first, try practicing this curling motion in front of a mirror. After that, practice cradling the ball while walking and running.

Passing to a Teammatehow to play lacrosse

Passing is the most effective way to move the ball in the game of lacrosse. It’s used to feed shooters, start clears and more.

How to Pass:

  • Hold your weak hand at the bottom of the shaft.
  • Hold your dominant hand just above the center of the shaft.
  • In a straight motion, lower the shaft backwards while twisting your shoulders.
  • Keep the head of the stick near your ear.
  • Pull your bottom hand toward your body as you push your top hand in the opposite direction.
  • The top of the shaft should move directly over the bottom in a straight line.

Catching a Pass

Catching is another skill players must learn in order to know how to play lacrosse. Professional lacrosse players can catch the ball on the run or behind the back. But, before attempting any of that, here are a few basic instructions.

  • Hold your weak hand on the bottom of the stick.
  • Hold your strong hand half way up the shaft.
  • Watch the ball travel through the air and into your stick’s pocket.
  • As the ball enters the pocket, loosen the grip of your top hand to allow the stick to absorb the momentum of the pass.

Scooping a Groundball

Learning to scoop is crucial to playing lacrosse, because groundballs lead to scoring opportunities.

  • Hold your stick the same way you would for catching or throwing.
  • Approach the ball with your strong foot forward.
  • Bend your knees.
  • Position your lead foot alongside the ball.
  • Keep the stick low to the ground while sweeping through the ball.
  • Pull the stick upwards to your face.

Shooting on Goal

Shots on goal can be overhand, sidearm, three-quarters or even behind-the-back. Although, coaches recommend beginners focus on shooting overhand. Lacrosse players can shoot high or low, but bounce shots are suggested for newbies.

  • Move your strong hand slightly lower than you would hold it to pass.
  • Perform the same general movement as passing but with more force.
  • Make sure to follow-through.

As you can see, it’s easy to learn how to play lacrosse. If you practice these basic lacrosse moves on your own, you’ll be ready to join a team this spring.

Click here to download our coaching guide

Topics: Lacrosse Techniques, Player Development