In order to be a well rounded lacrosse player, you need to be proficient at every fundamental lacrosse skill out there, including shooting. If you don’t have access to a lacrosse goal, this can seem like a tall task. I actually experienced this problem myself and had to improvise to hone in on my lacrosse shooting.
If you do not have access to a lacrosse goal, you can practice lacrosse shooting on a baseball back stop, caged tennis court, or caged basketball court. You can even build a PVC frame with a hanging sheet if none of the former options are available to you.
Each of these methods are healthy alternatives to going out and purchasing a lacrosse goal. All of these practice methods are rather simple to implement, it just takes a bit of time to explore and find what option works best for you. Read until the end to see whether or not it is worth it to invest into a lacrosse goal.
Method #1 Baseball Back Stop
This was actually the option that I went with when I didn’t have a lacrosse cage available. I would stroll down to the local baseball diamond fully equipped with a roll of tape, my lacrosse stick, and a couple of lacrosse balls.
What I would do is I would tape up a square on the chainlink fence so that each side was roughly a foot, like the one pictured below. From here, I would go to work. I would aim my lacrosse shots at the square from different angles and positions all around the backstop.
Each day, I would try to switch up where I placed the box so that I wasn’t solely concentrating on one specific area. If I felt like I needed to develop my off stick hip shots, I would tape the box so that it was level with my hip. If my bounce shots needed work, the box would be positioned at the very base of the back stop.
Taping up the box for every practice session may seem a bit tedious, but it helped guide my practice sessions. Without it, my shootarounds wouldn’t have any general direction. In my opinion, the taped up box was what was responsible for enhancing my shot precision. However, I must admit that I did run through a considerable amount of tape.
I have heard of other lacrosse players taking a piece of sidewall string and hanging up old, unstrung lacrosse heads onto the chain-link fence of the baseball backstop as an alternative to the tape method. Personally, I’ve never carried out this method myself. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the method. I just didn’t have any old lacrosse heads to spare and I certainly wasn’t going to string up any of my new lacrosse heads to pelt session after session.
Though, I do believe this alternative strategy could work as well. As long as you provide yourself with something to aim for, you’re prime for a solid practice session.
Method #2 Caged In Tennis Court or Basketball Court
Another place where you could perfect your lacrosse shot is a caged in tennis court or basketball court. In my case, the closest one to my house was a caged in tennis court.
Much like the baseball back stop, you could shoot on the chain link fence here as well. This is the superior option in terms of footing because your gym shoes will be able to grip the surface of a tennis court or basketball much better than the infield mix littered all around the baseball back stop.
With solid traction to work with, you can begin to incorporate full speed shots on the run into your training repertoire. This is hard to accomplish on infield dirt. Trying to solidly plant your feet on infield dirt can be a scary endeavor, especially if you’re wearing gym shoes. In my case, my gym shoes would slip and slide all over the place every time that I tried to execute a dodge at full speed.
You could execute the same sort of training tactics that we discussed earlier by taping up a box on the chain link fence or dangling an unused, unstrung lacrosse head.
Take care that the spot behind where you intend to shoot is a low traffic area. If there are moving cars and unassuming pedestrians milling about behind the chain link fence, that is probably not the most optimal place to start up your practice session. Unfortunately, there will be times where a shot gets away from you and flies over the fence. Trust me, it’ll happen.
As far as which location is better between baseball backstops and caged in courts, it is hard to say. I personally preferred the baseball backstop because it cut down my walking time. But honestly, I think either option would suffice.
Method #3 Do It Yourself PVC Pipe Goal
Lastly, you could experiment with building up your own version of a lacrosse net with PVC pipes.
This method requires a lot more work up front, but it will save you a tremendous amount of time in the long run. That time spent taping up boxes and strolling down to the park adds up.
To do this, you will need a couple of building materials, including PVC pipes, glue, and some sort of net. As a bonus, you might want to consider buying a bag of sand or two to weigh down the cage for when the project is all said and done. All of these materials should be available for purchase at your local hardware store.
Essentially, the PVC pipes will serve as the framework for your goal, with the glue holding everything together. What you use as the net is up to you. You can go out and buy a real lacrosse net or you can hang up a sheet. Either will work if done correctly.
As aforementioned, sand can be poured into the PVC pipes along the base to prevent the goal from moving with every shot attempt. This will save you the headache of having to reposition the goal every couple of shots while you’re out practicing.
The first time I heard of this method, I doubted that it could ever be fully operational. But after doing a bit of research online, I came upon a real live example of a do it yourself PVC goal. Given, this lacrosse net is a mini-goal and not a full-sized regulation goal. However, this project proved that it is possible!
If you’re the type of person that has to see it to believe it, click on the video below. Greg from East Coast Dyes provides a step-by-step guide of how exactly to build your own lacrosse net from scratch.
As a disclaimer, I should add that building up your own PVC pipe goal is by no means guaranteed to be successful. There are a lot of moving parts to this project and one slip-up might ruin an entire section of the goal. But if you do manage to successfully construct your own goal, it will be extremely rewarding.
Is It Worth It to Fork Over the Money For a Lacrosse Goal?
This brings me to my final point of whether you should even do any of these things at all.
Luckily, I have the benefit of both perspectives. I have gone through the experience of walking to the local baseball field and shooting on the backstop. On the other hand, I have also purchased my own goal and practiced my shot in my very own backyard.
After finally deciding to go ahead and purchase a goal, the rate of my weekly practice sessions shot up astronomically. I was able to gather a lot more repetitions under my belt in a shorter span of time as compared to when I would have to stroll over to the local park.
For me, I devoted so much of my free time to lacrosse shootarounds until I reached a point where it was worth it to fork over the extra money. But everyone’s situation is different. If you live right next to a baseball backstop, I see no reason for you to buy a goal. Although it doesn’t look like it, there’s one sitting right next to your house!
It ultimately comes down to you and your needs. If you truly believe that your player progression would skyrocket if you purchased your own lacrosse goal, go for it. On the other hand, if you are perfectly fine with taking the extra time to make do with the free resources available to you, stick with that. Only you know what the right answer is for your particular situation.
So get outside your comfort zone and experiment with these various methods. Although they seem unorthodox, I can attest to their effectiveness. To truly take your game to the next level, you have to get your repetitions in. If that means making the extra effort to venture over to the local park, so be it. Actions such as these are what separate a good lacrosse player from a great one.