Players need to have the capacity to compete with both hands to prosper in the sport of lacrosse. Athletes that only ever trust their dominant hand will never be able to truly unlock their lacrosse potential. For this reason, it is imperative that lacrosse players make a concerted effort toward strengthening their weak hand through a variety of methods.
In the subsequent paragraphs, we will explore 8 unique and creative ways to improve your off hand specifically for the sport of lacrosse. If you sincerely implement these techniques into your training regiment, you will see a noticeable improvement in your weak hand in due time.
1.) Devote One Practice Week to Strictly Using Your Offhand
The most effective method to improving your offhand is to attack the beast head on. Taking a week and practicing exclusively with your offhand is one of the best ways to force its immediate development.
Work Through the Growing Pains
There will be a transition period with this particular approach. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you put this strategy into action during the offseason.
It will be tempting to forgo this practice technique after the first day or two after restricting the use of your dominant hand. Do not get discouraged if you drop a few balls or miss a few passes. There is a reason why so many lacrosse players never get around to improving their weak hand.
When the going gets tough, just remember the reason why you started this strict training regiment in the first place. Strengthening your off hand will greatly diversify your skill repertoire and take your game to unforeseen heights. The road to success is never easy, so just keep this in the back of your mind as you go forward.
Hop in the Drill Lines that Support Use of Your Offhand
A powerful way to combat the instincts to revert back to the normal use of your dominant hand is to join the drill lines that force the use of your offhand.
For example, say that the hand you are trying to improve upon is your left hand. At some point during practice, your team is likely going to warm up with a 3v2 drill.
Many lacrosse players venture over to the right hand dominant line (on the left side of the field facing toward the goal) or the center line. Most players avoid the left hand dominant line (on the right side of the field facing toward the goal) at all costs.
If you are serious about strengthening your offhand, join the left hand dominant line. Not only will this require you to use your offhand, you will likely get additional repetitions in. There are not many lacrosse players that are willing to step outside their comfort zone and join the left handed line. A shorter line means more reps, which equates to a greater amount of opportunities to get better.
When I Say Everything, I Mean Everything
You are probably saying to yourself, “Okay, I can understand passing and shooting with my offhand… but do I really need to scoop up ground balls with my offhand every time?”
The answer to this question is a resounding yes!
The only way to prove to yourself that you can rely on your weak hand is through a mass amount of repetitions. That means cradling, shooting, passing, and yes… even ground balls.
The total exclusion of your dominant hand for a week will plant the seed in your mind that you can trust your weak hand. This seed will continue to sprout as you steadily integrate your off hand into practice sessions.
Before you know it, your off hand will become a staple of your skill set during actual games.
2.) Schedule a 15 Minute Daily Wall Ball Session Exclusively for Your Weak Hand
This next tip is another effective technique that will considerably accelerate the development of your weak hand. And the best part is that this method only demands 15 minutes of your day!
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Instilling a 15 minute daily wall ball session that is specifically geared toward your offhand will help you to gradually strengthen your off hand over time.
The key to this training method is consistency. 15 minutes may not seem like much, but compounded over a couple of weeks it can make a tremendous difference.
Attack your weak hand bit by bit every single day. All that you need for this activity is a wall and a little chunk of your time. Pretty much everybody has 15 minutes in their day that they can sacrifice.
Hit the wall right before practice or right after practice. Go to your local park and hit the bricks there. Get your training session in after school. The bottom line is just do whatever you need to do to fit this into your schedule. Trust me, you will thank yourself later once the lacrosse season rolls around.
Wall Ball Tips to Actually See Improvement
Showing up to play wall ball is only half of the battle. The other half of the battle is actually putting in the work.
When you play wall ball, it is crucial that you hit the wall with a purpose. Do not simply lob the ball in a high arc at the wall. This will not make you better in the long run.
Instead, snap the ball at the wall with some force behind it. Challenge your ability to pass the ball on a line while simultaneously boosting your reaction speed and hand eye coordination.
Aim for a specific spot on the wall and go to town. Wall ball will not do you any good if you refuse to hone in and make a concerted effort to improve your throwing precision.
Lastly, have a bit of fun with it. Throw some headphones in and enjoy the training grind. After all, this practice regime is not meant to resemble a military boot camp. Keeping yourself amused and entertained throughout wall ball will only help you to come back the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. You get the point.
Sample Wall Ball Routine
Here is a sample wall ball routine that you can use to accelerate the development of your weak hand.
|Wall Ball Exercise||Reps||Sets|
|Regular Passes w/ Weak Hand||30||3|
|Quick Stick Passes w/ Weak Hand||30||3|
|Canadian (Cross Handed) Passes w/ Weak Hand||30||3|
If you want to modify this wall ball routine in any way, go right ahead! I simply wanted to provide a model framework for what your wall ball routine should like look going forward.
That being said, it is far better to have a structured wall ball routine than to free style it every day. A definitively organized wall ball system will maintain some semblance of accountability in terms of training intensity.
3.) Lock in Your Offhand Shot with the Point of Release Drill
One little known drill to improve your offhand shot is the point of release drill. The gist of this drill is discussed next.
Overview of Point of Release Drill
The purpose of this drill is to identify the perfect point of release for your offhand with your specific lacrosse stick.
Each lacrosse stick throws slightly different. In addition, not every lacrosse player has the same shooting technique. With this drill, you can hone in on what type of shooting release complements your lacrosse stick and body mechanics best.
A summary of the point of release drill is outlined in the bulleted list below:
- Stand at an angle 3-5 yards from the goal.
- Face the opposite goal post.
- Concentrate your eyes on the far top corner of the goal.
- Assume an athletic shooting stance.
- Turn your body sideways.
- Position your hands out and away from your body.
- Shoot the ball at the opposite top corner of the goal.
- Follow through with your shot.
After finishing your shot, you will then assess where the ball landed.
There are three types of results. Each result has a distinct implication that relates to your shot release. These implications are outlined below:
|Ball Sailed Over the Top Corner||You are releasing the ball too early. Try snapping your wrists later in the shooting motion.|
|Ball Directly Hit the Top Corner||Your shot release is on point.|
|Ball Landed Below the Top Corner||You are releasing the ball too late. Try snapping your wrists earlier in the shooting motion.|
Through trial and error, you can make the necessary adjustments to find your specific point of release. This way, you can perfect your offhand shot release and make your weak handed shot just as deadly as your strong handed shot.
Hone In On Your Shot Mechanics
Although the ball may be hitting the right spots on the goal, I would still recommend further studying your shot form to ensure that there are no hitches in your technique.
For example, I would seek an unbiased third party opinion from a teammate or a coach to ensure that nothing in your offhand shooting technique is out of order.
If this is not possible, video tape yourself with your phone and review your shot from an objective lens. For instance, you should analyze whether or not you are leaving your stick too far exposed for possible trail checks. You should also ensure that you are positioning your hands out and away from your body.
This is a crucial thing to do during the beginning stages of strengthening your offhand shot. Instilling solid non-dominant hand shooting habits right away will help to prevent headaches later down the line.
4.) Improve the Finesse of Your Offhand with Stick Tricks
Another subtle trick to improve the tactical skill of your offhand is stick tricks.
The Subtle Benefits of Stick Tricks
Surprisingly, stick tricks are more than just a fancy means to impress your teammates. There is actually quite a host of benefits that go along with stick tricks that translate onto the lacrosse field.
Lacrosse stick tricks are underrated in that they highlight the finesse that is the staple characteristic of many high caliber players. For instance, stick tricks place a heavy emphasis on players having so called ‘soft hands.’
The element of soft hands is what is accentuated in catching and quick sticks. Players need to be delicate with the ball to properly execute these basic lacrosse movements. Stick tricks force players to loosen up their grip on the lacrosse stick and give with the ball. Otherwise, they will fail miserably.
This increased sensitivity to the ball will help you to land some extra touches around the crease for quick stick opportunities and possibly some extra goals with your weak hand.
Example: The Side Rail Stall
An example of a stick trick that you can practice to acquire these invaluable benefits is the side rail stall.
This is one of the rather simpler stick tricks. However, it is an effective means of promoting delicate hands and proper hand eye coordination.
With this trick, you will first need to have a ball in your lacrosse pocket. Next, you will need to toss the ball in the air and quickly try to land the ball on the side rail of your lacrosse head. It is important that you give with the ball as it lands on the side rail of the lacrosse head. Otherwise, the ball will simply bounce off of the plastic.
5.) Scoop Up Ground Balls with Your Weak Hand
As aforementioned, scooping up ground balls is a must when it comes down to strengthening your offhand. The exact benefits of this lacrosse movement are investigated further in this section.
Signals Your Subconscious to Trust Your Weak Hand
This is one of the more petty items on this list, but it is a significant tip nonetheless.
Ground balls further indicate to your subconscious that your offhand can be trusted. It builds up the mind to muscle connection needed to effectively operate on the lacrosse field.
Many players have developed the mentality of evading this weakness in their game. Diversifying the amount of lacrosse movements that you can perform with your weak hand will only help to break down these mental barriers in the future.
The end goal of all this rigorous training is to make your weak hand the equal of your strong hand. This way, there will be no ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ hand. There will only be your left hand and your right hand.
To accomplish this, your weak hand needs to be exposed to every task that your strong hand does. Running through ground balls is an imperative part of this exposure.
That is why you need to fight the urge to resort to using your dominant hand to scoop up ground balls. The more exposure that your weak hand gets during these training sessions, the more confidence you will have in using your weak hand during the game.
6.) Cradle with Your Non-Dominant Hand Everywhere You Go
This is another bit of an unorthodox tip. Carrying around your lacrosse stick whenever and wherever you can will help to further facilitate the confidence that you have in your weak hand.
Builds Trust in Your Offhand
The lacrosse stick is meant to be an extension of your body out on the field. Lacrosse players should not even have to think twice about their lacrosse stick during the game.
At first, it may feel odd to hold your lacrosse stick with your weak hand. This is normal.
Repetition is the great equalizer in the sport of lacrosse. By cradling your lacrosse stick outside of practice and games, you build up the necessary comfortability with your offhand.
Day by day, that feeling of awkwardness that you first felt when holding your lacrosse stick with your weak hand will begin to fade. Soon, the day will finally come where you do not even notice your lacrosse stick anymore.
Enhances Stick Protection
Another major benefit of implementing this unconventional practice is improved stick protection.
Stick protection goes hand in hand with comfortability with your lacrosse stick. As one improves, so does the other.
Possessing the capacity to protect your stick with both hands is a remarkable advantage to have on the field, particularly for offensive players. It is a trait that few lacrosse players can say they have.
This additional layer of stick protection will expand the scope of your game. It will allow you to travel anywhere on the field without having to worry about giving up an unforced turnover. This is extremely freeing and will help you to become much more elusive during games.
So cradle your stick in your weak hand on the walk to school. Carry your stick in your offhand on the way to practice. Any extra time that you can cram in with your lacrosse stick will make a difference as time goes along.
7.) Advanced One Handed Wall Ball Technique
This practice method is one of the more helpful items on this list. The advanced one handed wall ball technique is special in that it effectively isolates your weak hand completely. The specifics of this drill are explained in the ensuing paragraphs.
How to Perform the One Handed Wall Ball Drill
The one handed wall ball drill is the most advanced method to elevate your offhand skills.
With this technique, it is difficult to snap the ball with a great deal of force behind it. This is especially true if you are just starting out. To counteract this lack of force, position yourself a bit closer to the wall than usual.
Basically, you are just performing a normal pass without the use of your bottom hand as a guide. You should still be doing everything you usually would during a regular passing motion. This includes assuming an athletic stance and rotating your body to drive the ball.
The main focus of this exercise is to snap your wrists at your intended target on the wall. This will help to fine tune the throwing release of your off hand, which will ultimately result in greater precision and accuracy.
Completely Isolates Your Weak Hand
As aforementioned, the main advantage to this exercise is that your offhand is essentially left on an island. Your non-dominant hand cannot rely on the strength of your offhand to offset its weakness. The stabilizing muscles of the offhand are forced to respond and grow in order to accommodate this exercise.
In the other techniques mentioned on this list, your dominant hand still supplements your weak hand through the workout. This can take away from your true goal of solely improving your offhand.
The advanced one handed wall ball technique is the truest way to strictly improve your offhand without any additional help. To put in simple terms, you get the most bang from your buck with this exercise.
8.) Brush Your Teeth With Your Off Hand
This final tip is the strangest one of all the techniques on this list, but it is worthwhile to try out.
Unorthodox, Yet Effective
Brushing your teeth with your offhand is a challenging task. Many people do not even realize the amount of coordination you need to perform simple daily tasks such as brushing your teeth.
Practicing brushing your teeth with your offhand will enhance the mind to muscle connection that you have with your offhand. This may not be a lacrosse specific exercise, but it may still boost the overall confidence and trust that you place in your weak hand.
At the end of the day, half of using your weak hand in lacrosse is mental. If petty tasks such as this help you get closer to the finish line even just a tiny bit, why not give it a try?
Expand the Use of Your Weak Hand to All Daily Tasks
It does not just have to be brushing your teeth. You can use your weak hand in all sorts of daily tasks.
You can practice eating, texting, and even writing with your offhand to slowly build up that confidence. I cannot exactly quantify how much this actually helped the development of my weak hand, but I can definitively say that I at least gave this method a try!