Editor’s Note: This article, authored by Sean Kelly and originally titled, ‘How to Add 10 MPH to Your Lacrosse Shot’ was originally published on February 25, 2015 at 12:53 p.m. A former two-sport DI athlete at Fairfield University, Kelly has dedicated his life to building better lacrosse athletes, on and off of the field. Sean contributes regularly from his state-of-the-art Sports and Mental Preparation Facility in New Jersey. Take it from here, Sean!
Part 1: The Problem
Here’s what you need to know:
Focusing and perfecting technique and proper shooting mechanics is often overlooked by youth and high school lacrosse players.
There are 4 components of a lacrosse shot that need to come together in order for a shooter to maximize his velocity, accuracy, and consistency.
Mastering the Art of the Lacrosse Shot
Shooting a lacrosse ball accurately, at a high speed, while running full speed toward the goal with a strong, fast, angry defenseman bearing down on you is one of the more difficult things to do in all of sports.
Shooting is a skill. It is an art form that needs to be studied in order to be mastered. I feel that the reason that many high school players struggle with velocity, accuracy, and consistency in their shot is that they do not spend enough time mastering the mechanics.
If you cannot take a set shot without your form breaking down then there is no reason that you should be progressing to shooting on the run or in live game situations.
4 Components of a Lacrosse Shot
Let’s go over the components of a lacrosse shot step by step.
Phase 1 – Approach
During this stage, the player is taking several steps advancing towards the goal with the intent to shoot. The speed of the approach and the number of steps taken will vary between player and situations.
This phase ends when the drive leg (the leg that is planted on the ground pushing the player forward toward the goal; when shooting right handed the drive leg is the right leg) contacts the ground.
Phase 2 – Crank Back (Wind-up)
This phase begins when the drive leg touches the ground and ends when the lead leg hits the ground. It consists of any preparatory movement that proceeds accelerating the stick with the intent of releasing the ball towards the goal.
One of the most important components of a proper lacrosse shot is the ability of the player to get his hands away from his body and rotate them back to create enough power to shoot fast. Many players struggle with this concept.
Phase 3 – Stick Acceleration
The duration of this phase is very short and dynamic. It begins when lead leg hits the ground and ends with the ball’s release.
Phase 4 – Follow Through
Once the ball has left the stick Phase 4 begins and it comes to an end when trunk rotation has been terminated after the shot.
Interpreting Rabil’s Shot
If you look at this picture of Paul Rabil what do you notice?
He is reaching his hands back and up as far as he can go while simultaneously moving his hips toward his target.
This push/pull effect causes tension that creates the speed behind his shot. The further an object is from its axis of rotation, the faster its linear speed.
What else do you notice while looking at these pictures of Paul Rabil? He is planting his lead foot hard into the ground.
This will prevent the shooter from falling forward as he throws his back hip at the target and finishes his shot. This occurs in Phase 3.
I feel like this is the most ignored step when it comes to high school lacrosse players and it is probably the most important.
Where is the power generated? The ground!
To produce more power, you must generate force into the ground. When Rabil drives his lead foot into the turf, friction against the ground then allows him to convert his linear momentum into rotational momentum.
The softer we screw our foot into the ground, the lower our max velocity is going to be.
If you go to your local junior high or high school game, you will see a lot of shots that look very different from the ones above.
The most common mistakes made are shooters not getting their hands far enough away from their body and falling forward after the shot because they are not screwing their lead leg into the ground hard enough.
In Part 2, I will provide you with what we have found at SKPC to be the best solution to this problem; the medicine ball.