In his best-selling book “Outliers,” author Malcolm Gladwell hypothesizes that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a skill.
That means it would take someone more than a year practicing 24 hours a day to master stick skills. But here’s the catch (pun intended): Stick skills are the basis of everything you need to be successful in lacrosse. It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest or strongest player if you can’t catch and throw. Stick skills are the great equalizer.
Solution: Twenty minutes a day of just you, your stick, a ball and the wall. These wall-ball routines apply for players in all positions and both genders. Doing the math on this one will get you 40 hours of practice between now and the start of the season in March.
Each day, do each of the eight exercises below for 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
A long way off from Gladwell’s position on practice, but I guarantee you’ll see a difference. So load up the iPod and hit the wall today.
Right Overhand Throw and Catch
Standing 8-10 feet from wall, throw and catch using overhand technique. Limit yourself to one cradle between exchanges. Focus on a spot on the wall that will return the ball back to you in “the box” near your head.
Left Overhand Throw and Catch
Same as above, only this time with your left hand.
Throw Right, Catch Left
Remain at 8-10 feet from the wall and continue using overhand technique. Throw with your right hand and switch to your left when the ball is in the air. Catch the ball, switch back to your right (think split dodge) and repeat.
Throw Left, Catch Right
Same as above, reversed.
“Canadian” Left Throw and Catch
Hold the stick as you would if throwing and catching right-handed, but position your stick on the left side of your body.
“Canadian” Right Throw and Catch
Hold the stick as you would if throwing and catching left-handed, but position your stick on the right side of your body.
Behind the Back
(Yes, I said it.) For 1 minute, 15 seconds with each hand, throw the ball behind your back and catch it as you normally would “in the box.”
Run the Wall
If the wall is long enough, run along it for 10-12 yards while throwing against it and catching the rebound. When you reach the end of the wall, turn around and repeat using your opposite hand.
Want more wall ball tips? Check out this routine from World Champion and 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team hopeful Ned Crotty.
TJ Buchanan is the coaching education content manager at US Lacrosse. Suggest topics for future coaching blog posts in the comments section.
Photo Credit: John Strohsacker