This Is Why Paul Rabil Is The Face Of Lacrosse
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Stickwork Cannot Be Mastered

Editor’s note: Please join me in welcoming Paul Rabil to! Paul, a passionate lacrosse enthusiast who needs no introduction from us, recently launched (“PRE” for short) to offer young aspiring players a direct connection to the advice and inspiration that’s made him the player he is today.

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Sometimes I think Twitter is best served for this topic. I mean, really… fewer than 140 characters is all you need.

I want you to focus on the title. Now, remember it for as long as you play.

The Unfortunate Death of Line Drills

With privatization in youth sports continuing to swarm every corner of sports participation, more and more kids are playing lacrosse year-round. There are more club teams, leagues, tournaments, camps and clinics in Maryland alone, than what was provided across the country my freshman year of high school in 2000. With this type of volume, comes more practices and games. More practices and games mean more line drills. And oddly, there’s this notion amongst players – and some coaches – that line drills are inadequate, or boring… a waste of time.

Because most players can catch and throw (after all, it is the baseline test for making a team), we think we’ve acquired that skill and should be focusing on bigger and better things – like swim moves and shooting drills. Wrong.

Stickwork is a skill that has no finish line. Plain and simple. As a player, here are some things you should be thinking about:

  1. Can I pass quickly and accurately overhand, sidearm and underhand? With both hands?
  2. Can I pass quickly and accurately without cradling?
  3. Can I pass quickly and accurately behind the back, around the world, or out of a shovel pass?
  4. Can I do #’s 1-3 at 10, 15 and 20 yards?
  5. Can I d #’s 1-4 at full speed?
  6. Can I do #’s 1-5 while being checked by a defender?

You get the point… hopefully.

Student of the Craft

There are hundreds of thousands of scenarios in lacrosse that play themselves out every game, requiring a quick decision upstairs, that simultaneously triggers an accurate reaction with your hands, stick and ball.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the 10,000 hour rule, yes? I find it interesting how many folks are familiar with “Outliers: The Story of Success”, across all industries, and how frequently it’s referenced. Basically, the author, Malcolm Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of 10,000 hours. So, let’s take our stickwork for example:

If you practice stickwork ONLY for 1 hour a day (not as easy as it sounds), I mean no shooting, dodging, whatever — just banging against the wall. If you did that EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year, it would take you close to 28 years to get to 10,000 hours of stickwork! 28 years!

365 Days (1 Yea) x 1 hour per day  = 365 hours
365 hours x 28 years = 10,220 hours

And that’s what Malcolm Gladwell advises. He’s pretty legit.

I, on the other hand, say there’s no finish line. No such thing as mastery. Because, once you’re a master and you get better, than you’re the master of masters…? Or the master of master’s masters?

Just keep it going.

Here are some interesting routines I’ll explore with you at the Paul Rabil Experience:

  • Cycle of stickwork
  • Trying the cycle on one leg
  • Shuffling while cycling through stickwork
  • Cycle of stickwork from your knees

There are so many ways to get creative, by challenging your skill and mind. Keep it fresh, have a ton of fun, and you’ll notice vast improvement.

Paul Rabil

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