Lacrosse players are always trying to one up each other when it comes to the speed of their shot. Thus, it come as no surprise that many newcomers to the game of lacrosse want to know how their shot compares to the rest of the community.
The average speed of a lacrosse shot lies somewhere in the range of 70-80 mph for the recreational lacrosse player. However, the age and level of experience are major factors in what determines the average speed of a lacrosse shot for a specific individual.
To have a solid grasp of where your shot speed lies relative to other players, it is necessary to analyze the numbers in terms of age and competitive tier as opposed to looking at the lacrosse community as a whole. Obviously, the average shot speed for professional lacrosse will be exponentially higher than the average shot speed for youth lacrosse, so why even factor them into your shot speed comparison?
Average Lacrosse Shot Speeds at Different Competitive Tiers
I went ahead and broke down the average shot speeds by competitive level in the table below.
|Level of Competition||Average Shot Speed Range|
|Youth Lacrosse||60-75 mph|
|High School Lacrosse||70-85 mph|
|Collegiate Lacrosse||80-95 mph|
|Professional Lacrosse||90-105 mph|
These numbers provide a far more reasonable comparison for players looking to get an accurate gauge of where their shot speed lies at their individual lacrosse level.
Obviously, there will be shot speed outliers at each competitive tier. For instance, a fresh youth lacrosse player may fall well under the shot speed average of 60 mph. This is to be expected, considering they just recently picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time.
On the other end of the spectrum, there will be players that just have a knack for shooting at a high velocity. For example, during my high school playing years I remember our best offensive player having an average shot speed that hovered around the upper 80s to low 90s.
Keep in mind that the shot speeds listed above are time and room shot speeds recorded during casual shootarounds. When a lacrosse player references how fast their shot is, they usually refer to their time and room shot numbers. After all, the majority of youth and high school lacrosse games do not feature a radar gun behind the goal.
In this environment, players are able to completely maximize their shot speed potential. This is because they are able to extend their windup as much as possible without having to worry about any oncoming defensive pressure.
In short, the speeds listed above are not in game shot speeds.
The average speed of a shot in game is noticeably slower than the time and room shot speeds recorded during practice. This can be attributed to players having to predominantly shoot on the run under duress.
Shooting on the run detracts from the overall shot power that a player is able to create. As a result, a lacrosse player may shoot 3 mph to 8 mph slower in game relative to their time and room shot during practice.
Fastest Lacrosse Shot Speeds Ever Recorded
As of the year 2020, Patrick Luehrsen boasts the fastest lacrosse shot ever at 119.9 mph according to Guinness World Records (source). Check out the video below to see it in action!
There are an abundance of examples where lacrosse players have broken into triple digits. Some other notable shot speeds are provided in the table below:
|Zak Dorn||116 mph|
|Jarrod Neumann||115 mph|
|Mike Sawyer||114 mph|
|Michael Manley||112 mph|
|Paul Rabil||111 mph|
I always liked watching the Zak Dorn video. At the time, his 116 mph shot was the world record for the fastest lacrosse shot. He actually entered the 2014 MLL fastest shot contest as a fan and beat out some of the fastest shooters the MLL had to offer! Watch the video above to see this cinderella story for yourself.
Factors that Influence the Average Speed of a Lacrosse Shot
There are several elements that affect how fast a lacrosse player is able to shoot on average. Contrary to popular opinion, there is a lot more to shot speed than just size and strength.
Whip of the Lacrosse Pocket
For those of you that do not know, the whip of the lacrosse pocket refers to how low the ball throws during a pass or shot. The greater the whip, the lower the ball throws. For more information on the concept of whip in lacrosse, check out my article A Full Breakdown of What Whip Actually Means in Lacrosse.
With a high whip lacrosse stick, the ball tends to remain in the pocket for longer during the shooting motion. To counteract this excessive pocket hold, lacrosse players generally extend their shooting windup. This way, the ball releases toward their intended target rather than whipping into the ground.
The extension of the shooting windup allows players to generate more power on their shot. This additional extension allows players to get their hands out and away to incorporate the entire body into the shooting motion.
Without sufficient whip, it is extremely challenging for players to nail down proper shooting technique because the ball releases from the pocket too early.
Optimal Body Torque
The amount of body torque that a player utilizes also contributes significantly to average shot speed.
The lacrosse shot is not meant to be limited to a simple movement of the arms. Proper shooting technique involves a violent twisting of the body toward the goal.
Shooters that only take advantage of their arms miss out on a whole lot of potential power. All of the premier shooters channel their momentum into the ball by throwing their whole body into rotation. Their shot begins with one shoulder facing toward the goal. By the end of their shooting motion, the opposite shoulder faces toward the goal. This is a solid indicator that a they are making the most of body rotation.
Just take a look at the fastest shooters in the world. When they set up their body for a shot, they practically face their entire back toward the goal prior to initiating the shooting motion. They use this as a mental cue to support maximal body torque throughout the shot.
Snapping the Wrists in a Timely Fashion
Believe it or not, the wrists can add a couple of miles per hour to a shot as well.
This is largely due to players snapping their wrists at the final stretch of the shot motion. The wrist snap forces the ball out that much quicker, adding a bit of zip to the shot as it releases from the pocket. Although this particular aspect of shot technique does not receive as much attention relative to pocket whip and body torque, it is definitely not something to be overlooked.
Many high caliber lacrosse players, such as Paul Rabil, preach about the importance of snapping the wrists during the shooting release. They do so not just because of the shot speed benefits, but the shot accuracy benefits as well.
Following Through Toward the Target
When a lacrosse player executes proper shooting technique, their momentum should carry them towards the area on the goal that they are aiming for because of the force of their follow through.
The lacrosse shot is all about a transfer of power. If a player stops their momentum midway through their shot, they will execute what coaches commonly refer to as a “still” shot. This is not something that coaches want to see because it indicates that a player is not following through properly.
Many players make the mistake of not following through with their hips toward the shooting target. As the ball releases from the pocket, the hips should complete their rotation all the way through. This way, the player careens towards the goal involuntarily.
To better visualize this concept, check out a slow motion video of Peter Baum’s follow through in the video below!
Is Your Shot Fast Enough?
When I first started lacrosse, I was obsessed with upping the speed of my shot to get to that next skill tier. I watched countless YouTube instructional videos and modified my lacrosse pocket numerous times to get every little edge I could.
It was only later in my playing career that I realized that having a tremendous amount of shot speed is an accessory, not a necessity.
Ultimately, accuracy takes precedence over velocity at the youth and high school level. A player may be able to shoot in the upper 80s, but this velocity will not matter if they are unable to pick out the open spots on cage.
We have all wanted to burn a hole through the goalie’s stick with our shot at some point. But the reality is that this is just not feasible. Players that are able to optimize for shot precision and deception always have a better shooting percentage than a player with a wildly inaccurate rocket of a shot.
So to answer your question “Is my shot fast enough?” it really just depends on your own personal aspirations and play style.
For example, an attacker that predominantly operates in and around the crease will not necessarily need a high velocity shot to succeed. They can get away with a shot that hovers around 60 to 70 mph.
If your plan is to nab most of your goals from 10 to 12 yards out, it is much more crucial to elevate your shot around the mid 80s to sneak the ball past the goalkeeper. Only you can really know if your shot speed is truly fast enough for what you are trying to accomplish on the field.
Helpful Tips To Increase Your Average Lacrosse Shot Speed
If you are serious about improving your shot speed, there are a couple of subtle practices that you can implement to help you on your journey of self progression.
Obviously, brute strength plays a sizable role in how fast your lacrosse shot will be. I tried to provide some not so obvious tips in the list below aside from strength and repetition to help accelerate your shot development. Just know that getting faster and stronger in conjunction with these tips will help you to break into the top shot speed percentile.
Make a Habit of Practicing with Your Gloves On
The majority of lacrosse players make the mistake of practicing without their lacrosse gloves. Although practice in and of itself will aid you in reaching your shooting aspirations, why not simulate game play as much as possible during your practice sessions?
Getting comfortable with the feel of lacrosse gloves takes time and repetition. By the time that you step out onto the field, wearing gloves should feel like second nature. The last thing you want to have happen is have your gloves feel foreign on your hands. You already have enough to worry about when it comes to shooting with accuracy and power.
So throw on your gloves when you practice on your own. If you can throw on your helmet too, even better!
The more you are able to simulate live game play, the more at home you will feel on the lacrosse field when game time rolls around. This will bolster your confidence and help you to apply your shooting practice to actual games.
Integrate a Crow Hop into Your Shooting Motion
A lot of things have to be done correctly for a player to have a powerful time and room shot. Working nearly every muscle in unison to transfer power into your shot is no small task.
Incorporating a crow hop into your time and room shot will promote efficient use of the body during the shooting process. For those of you that do not know, the crow hop is the footwork involved with the time and room shooting motion.
Generally, there are two different kinds of crow hops: the two step crow hop and the three step crow hop. Ultimately, both methods are effective at generating shot power from the legs as long as the footwork is coordinated with the shot release.
Throughout the crow hop, you should keep a wide base to keep yourself stable throughout your shot. Once you perform the crow hop and produce some forward momentum, your front foot should be firmly planted into the ground. Your toes should be pointed toward the target if possible.
Take a Video of Your Shooting Technique
Another strategy of making the necessary adjustments to your lacrosse shot to increase speed is to take a video of your shot mechanics.
Many players believe they have perfect shot mechanics until they see their technique from a third party perspective. Players are easily able to point out flaws in their shooting motion that they would typically be unaware of when they take a look at themselves on film.
For example, many players over exaggerate the amount of body torque they are utilizing during their shot. It is only when they see themselves on video that they realize that they are not rotating their body nearly as much as they initially thought.
A major part of increasing shot speed is continually honing in on shooting fundamentals. The first step in this process is to identify your shoot flaws. Many players do not even make it past this first step because they never take the time to objectively analyze their shot.
Although it may seem tedious, taking fifteen minutes to gather some footage of your standard time and room shot and shot on the run will accelerate your shot progression immensely. If you truly want to take your shot speed to the next level, it is essential that you take the time and effort to do things that other players refuse to do. Every little effort counts.