During a lacrosse game you see players running all over the field – dodging checks, getting hit, shooting, passing – and yet the ball seems to never fall out of their stick. How is this possible? The answer is “cradling”. Cradling is using the movement of the stick to maintain possession of the ball without it falling out. Cradling is essential to being able to move around the field while protecting and handling the ball. After throwing and catching, cradling is one of the most important skills that young players need to learn to become successful lacrosse players. Here is a quick how-to guide on cradling a lacrosse ball.
First, use your dominant hand to control the stick by holding it near the head of the stick, while your other hand loosely grips the bottom of the stick. Hold your stick parallel to your body, with the bottom of the stick resting near your hip and the top of the stick above your shoulder. Next, use your dominant hand to curl the stick towards you (by curling your wrist), and then away from you, all in one smooth rhythm. Start slow at first, and then slowly speed up as you become more used to the cradling motion. The curling motion creates the centrifugal force on the stick head, which keeps the ball in the pocket. The repeated curling of the stick should be kept as tight and efficient as possible. The wider your cradle is, the easier it will be for the ball to fall out or for a defender to knock it out.
After cradling while standing still, try to practice cradling while on the run. Your arms should move similar to the natural movement of one’s arms when running, and running while cradling should feel natural after you get the hang of it. This will be essential for moving the ball down the field without it falling out of your stick.
And that is how to cradle! Cradling is an important skill to becoming a good lacrosse player and it takes time and practice to perfect it. Stay tuned for more how-to guides from WINNERS Lacrosse! See below for cradling in action, it’s a bit different in the boys and girls game!