When I played midfield in high school, I could shoot the rock hard, but my accuracy was suspect. REALLY suspect. If the ball consistently traveled within 10 feet of the cage I was “on”. I once shot a ball so hard, so sidearm, and so poorly, that it went onto the highway, which was easily 75 yards away from the field and separated by a line of trees. Even my own teammates were laughing at me. Totally fair and completely embarrassing. Needless to say, when I got to college, my coach put a longstick in my hands as quickly as he could.
But after graduating, I stuck around to help coach, as an assistant, and somehow I drew the assignment of warming up and working with our goalies. Due to constant heckling from the kids I was coaching, I quickly realized that my shooting had better improve, and it had better improve quickly! So here is how I made a change in my shooting technique and how YOU can prep to be much better.
These FIVE Tips can help you become a better shooter in only a couple of weeks:
1) Forget Power, and Focus on Accuracy
It is extremely hard to learn how to shoot hard, and THEN work on your accuracy. I tried this in high school, and it does NOT work. The form you develop by focusing on power only is almost universally AWFUL. Focus on shooting the right way, and focus on putting the ball where you want it, THEN work your way up the power scale. Without control, pure power is garbage.
2) Train Simple, Train Hard
So many athletes today think they need to have a personal trainer or be on the cusp of training technology. Bologna. If you want to shoot accurately and hard, you don’t need a trainer. You need a pull up bar and some running shoes. Do pulls ups every other day for your back and arms. Do push ups every other day for your chest and core. Do sit ups or other ab exercises religiously. RUN and work those legs! Great shooters generate control and power with every portion of their body. Be strong, train hard and your shooting will improve. If you are going to hit the gym, focus on Olympic lifts for total body power.
3) Play Wall Ball
It seems like I always use wall ball as a “way to improve”. This is because it is the SINGLE most important aspect of becoming a good lacrosse player. If you can really pound the ball off the wall, it means you can catch and then move the ball accurately. Shooting is very similar, and the skill sets translate effortlessly. Like I said in point 1, focus on accuracy. When you shoot on a cage, the ball can go anywhere. Who cares? But when you play wall ball, you need to be accurate. It’s a great shooter’s best friend.
4) Keep Your Shooting Skill Set Diverse
There are guys out there who are time and room shooters (Forrest Sonnenfeldt, Kyle Wharton) and there are guys who are better on the run (Mike Kimmel, Hakeem Lecky) and then there are guys who are great at both (Colin Briggs, Paul Rabil, Jay Jalbert). You want to be the guy who is great at both. Maybe you’ll be better at one, but practice both. Going out and ripping shots all day from 13 yards is a mistake. Take some on run, take some from low angles. Mix it up and be diverse, because you’ll probably have to do that in a game. Don’t be a one-dimensional shooter.
5) Partner Up For Better Training
I don’t mind seeing a guy out on a field with a bag of balls all by himself. Nothing wrong with that at all. But if you have the chance to partner up when shooting, take it! It is much easier to replicate catching a pass on the run and then shooting, or catching a pass for a time and room shot when you have someone to throw it to you. This partner can be a parent, coach or teammate. Reliance on a partner should NOT be used as an excuse (e.g. my shooting partner can’t make it so I’m going to play video games instead) but it can definitely help you improve!
Got some shooting tips you’d like to share with everyone? Hit up the comments section!