Cradling: Hockey vs. Lacrosse


Is it harder to cradle a lacrosse ball or control a hockey puck?  The net of the lacrosse stick seems like an instant and insurmountable advantage towards the laxers but then again, the puck is sliding on ice and all you really need to do (when you get down to basics) is keep tapping it forward.  Of course, when you get down to basics in lacrosse, it is just about understanding the dynamics of centripetal force application and the corresponding centrifugal reaction.  Very simple stuff.  No confusion there.

So, my brief foray into the scientific didn’t yield any conclusive results.  I’ll have to call in the Mythbusters, I guess.

Let’s try a different type of evidence.  The anecdotal, video kind of evidence that can be found on Youtube.

Basic Cradling demonstrated by UMass grad, Jake Deane:

He makes it seem so simple!  Then we go to basic hockey puck handling via HockeyUS:

Cool.  But I can’t tell which is harder yet.  They both require you to be smooth and form a connection with the stick.  Let’s see what the experts can do with these skills.  Hockey it up first!

Okay, that was impressive.  This isn’t a bad effort either.  And the kid is like 5 years old.

On the lacrosse side of things, we see equally impressive moves:

I’m still not sold.  I’m leaning towards saying hockey is harder… but lacrosse is definitely better.  At least in my heavily biased opinion.  There is just something about the soft pocket that lets you do things that should be physically impossible.  Hockey may be harder, but for my money I’ll take lax skills any day.


  1. Yeah…controlling the puck in hockey is significantly harder than cradling in lacrosse. First reason being, you’re on skates, so more balance is involved. Second, you can have a less than perfect cradle and the ball likely still won’t come out. In hockey, the slightest error in timing, the puck is gone. This is particularly evident when making a move on a defenseman…all he has to do is make contact with the puck and you will likely lose it. In lacrosse, you can be two handed across the forearms, body checked to the ground, roll over, and still have the ball in your stick.

    • I agree.
      As somebody that grew up playing hockey and picked up lax 15-20 years later, it is infinitely easier to cradling a lax ball than a puck. The fact that the ball is not on the ground and subject to the surface conditions has to be the biggest factor. Plus, I am more or less holding the ball whereas I am merely pushing the puck. Plus, skating speed is usually higher than running speed for most people.
      You could almost make the same comparison with dribbling a basketball vs dribbling a soccer ball. Anytime the ball is closer to being held in your hands as you run down the field, you have more control. That’s also why carrying a football is the easiest of all if one exempts the hitting.

  2. Hockey control is harder, but is also less valued in the course of play…a very common strategy is the dump and chase, where you give the puck up but use the forward’s speed to take advantage of the defense going backwards to get it back…can you imagine petro having his players roll the ball into the zone to then snag the ground ball? (revolutionary new strategy?)