What Does Bar Down Mean in Lacrosse?


There is a ton of lacrosse lingo out there that fly over the heads of people that are unfamiliar with the sport. If you have ever been in close proximity to a lacrosse team for an extended period of time, you probably heard the term ‘bar down’ thrown around once or twice.

Bar down is a slang lacrosse phrase to describe a shot that pings off of the bottom of the top cross bar and ricochets on a steep angle toward the ground into the goal. Players marvel at a successful bar down shot because there is a large margin for error associated with this kind of a shot attempt.

There is no doubt that a perfectly executed bar down shot is a feat to be commended on the lacrosse field. Now that you know the basic gist of what a bar down shot is, you probably want to see it in action! Stick around until the end to see live examples of bar down shots along with the do’s and don’ts behind how to shoot a successful bar down shot.

The Meaning Behind Bar Down in Lacrosse

If you think about it, bar down is a rather self explanatory term. It refers to the ball hitting the top cross bar and angling down toward the ground. When you learn it like that, it is not that challenging of a concept to grasp.

The bar down shot is an extremely high difficulty shot in lacrosse. This is because shooters have to nick the top crossbar in one precise location in order to get the ball to angle sharply downward.

Even if the shot is just an inch off, the ball will not go bar down. If the shot is an inch too high, the ball will hit the crossbar square on and ricochet back in front of the goal. If the shot is an inch too low, the ball will not even hit the cross bar at all. The shot needs to hit the little section right underneath the top beam in order for this shot to work.

To put it simply, most lacrosse players that flawlessly execute a bar down shot do so because of pure luck. They may be aiming in the general area of the crossbar, but it is nearly impossible to hit the bar down shot consistently.

For this reason, the bar down shot is a rare occasion on the lacrosse field, particularly during games. Not only does a shooter have to strike that teeny tiny section of pipe, they also have to generate enough velocity behind their shot to sneak the ball past the goalkeeper.

Many goalkeepers have an easy time of making saves on shots that are aimed high. This is because their goalie stick already lies in that position naturally. They barely have to move their stick at all to make the save on these kinds of shots. Unfortunately, it is necessary to shoot high to go bar down.

For the most part, players are only able to hit this high difficulty shot during a team practice or a casual shoot around when the stakes are not so high. Attempting to go bar down is ill-advised in serious game situations because it has such a high likelihood of failure.

Some lacrosse coaches are so against the concept that they will bench players that even attempt to go bar down. Needless to say, that is something that most lacrosse players want to avoid.

Still, you can always count on at least one or two players to go for the ooh’s and the aah’s that accompany the bar down shot. You can bet that they miss 99 out of 100 shot attempts. But boy oh boy, does that 100th shot look pretty!

Model Examples of Bar Down Shots

As promised, I included a couple of bar down shots to illustrate for you guys what this lacrosse gem really looks like. Without further ado, enjoy the following videos of Greg from East Coast Dyes tearing up the cross bar!

The Origins of the Phrase ‘Bar Down’

The phrase bar down originally transitioned over to the game of lacrosse from hockey. In fact, bar down means literally the exact same thing in hockey as it does in lacrosse.

There are many parallels between hockey and lacrosse. One glaring similarity between the two sports is that they both shoot on nets.

Just like lacrosse players, hockey players praise bar down shots for their high degree of difficulty. It is the most sought after goal in the sport. Every hockey player wants to be able to showcase a bar down shot in their highlight tape.

Due to the ever growing popularity of lacrosse, there has been a large influx of hockey players that shifted over to the sport in recent years. Consequently, lacrosse lingo eventually began to adopt some hockey slang as well. This specific slang phrase spread throughout the lacrosse community like wildfire. Now, it is virtually a universal lacrosse term.

How to Shoot a Ball Bar Down

With all of the hype surrounding bar down shots, it is no wonder why everyone wants to learn how to do it. As aforementioned, most of shooting a ball bar down is sheer luck. However, perfectly executing the combination of power and accuracy to accomplish such a difficult feat does require some practice.

I compiled some of the most helpful tips that will help you to shoot bar down on at a higher clip. Of course, these tips will by no means guarantee that you will shoot bar down, but they will give you a fighting chance.

*As a side note, beware that even just attempting this shot might earn you a spot on the bench for the rest of the game. So if you are treading on thin ice with the coach, I would stay away!

Shoot Sidearm or Underhand

If your sole goal is to shoot bar down, then a sidearm or underhand shot is your best bet. Since the release point is originating from below the top pipe, this provides you with a much better shooting angle to hit the sweet spot on the cross bar.

The overhand shot releases on the same plane as the top pipe. As a result, the shooting angle is far too severe to strike the cross bar on its underside. It is much more likely that the ball will hit the cross beam square on.

To successfully hit a bar down shot, you need everything working in your favor. This includes maximizing the shooting angle, even by the slightest of degrees.

Maintaining control over sidearm and underhand shots is a much more troublesome undertaking relative to the overhand shot. At first, it will be immensely frustrating to shoot the ball in the same general area as where you are aiming. Do not get discouraged. Shooting sidearm and underhand accurately takes time and patience. In order to become a precise outside shooter, you need to push past these growing pains.

Incorporate Your Whole Body into the Shooting Motion

Another tip is to utilize every muscle in your entire body to drive the ball underneath the crossbar.

A cue that I personally like to use is turning my back toward the goal prior to the shot. This way, my body is forced to violently rotate toward the goal. Not only will this add speed and velocity to your shot to slip the ball past the goalkeeper, it will also instill solid shot mechanics in the long term.

Shooting with precision is all about muscle memory. The only way to become a feared shooter on the lacrosse field is to perform repetition after repetition. When you finally step on to the field for a game, shooting should feel like second nature.

The best way to ensure that you are utilizing your body efficiently during the shooting motion is to record your shot technique. With this method, you can review your shooting fundamentals from a third party lens. It may help you identify shooting flaws that you never realized before.

This will not only help you to shoot bar down, but will help to shoot more accurately in general.

Snap Your Wrists Toward the Crossbar

Many lacrosse players overlook the important role that their wrists play in the their overall shot precision.

The majority of shooters believe that accuracy stems from their arms. Although this may be true to some extent, the wrists are what really accentuate the shot trajectory.

For instance, players that snap their wrists too early during an underhand shot release will find that the ball will land slightly lower than the cross bar. On the other hand, snapping the wrists late will result in the ball sailing over the top pipe out of bounds.

Mastering the art of the wrist snap is challenging because every shooter has a slightly different lacrosse stick and slightly different shooting release. The only real way for you to lock down the wrist snapping technique is trial and error. Experimentation requires time and effort from on the part of the player, which is why so many shooters never reach the next level.

To shoot bar down, you need to put in the hours of practice to maximize your chances. Otherwise, you will only ever be able to nail a bar down shot once in a blue moon, just like every other average lacrosse player out there. Strive to be in the top percentile and you will be shooting bar down in no time!

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of Lacrosse Pack. I enjoy hitting the local lacrosse fields and honing in on the craft in my free time.

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