Cradling -- instructional guidelines, please

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Cradling -- instructional guidelines, please

Postby rebelhead » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:38 pm

New U11 coach trying to help players hang on to the ball, especially in traffic.

Wondering if one-handed cradling or two-handed cradling is the way to go, what to advise new players.

For reference, Jeff Tambroni's Winning Lacrosse "beginning player" video suggests one-hand cradling is perhaps the first fundamental skill to teach -- even before throwing and catching. But other coaches claim my kids drop the ball more because they don't have two hands on the stick.

Your experience? Opinions?
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Re: Cradling -- instructional guidelines, please

Postby SkylineCoach » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:16 am

No right or wrong answer there - some kids will do better one way, others the other way.

I find we get more value (this is my 4th season coaching that age group) if we teach the cradling without 1 or 2 handed specificity, but really emphasize where to cradle relative to the player's body & his opponent. Putting the stick away from the defender and using their own body as a shield for it helps kids possess... even when they can hardly cradle at all. Others who have a great cradle when they're alone in space will lose the ball quickly in traffic if they don't know where to put the stick.

So protection first, good cradling motion second, then handedness and 1 vs 2 hands 3rd.
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Re: Cradling -- instructional guidelines, please

Postby backdoor » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:22 am

Interesting that Tamboni would suggest the one hand cradle first. In my 15+ years of coaching, nearly always, when a player goes one handed too early in their development, it's uncontrollable and ineffective. It might make their one-hand cradle better in the long run but it sure makes for ugly lacrosse. It's harder to throw from a one hand cradle, it's harder to control, and defenders have an easier time checking the ball loose. At youth levels, they tend to naturally ward with one hand cradling as they learn the rules.

I'd say go with the two hand first, especially at the U11. It's a natural transition to throwing. Throw off the back cradle. Two hand cradling also plays better into teaching ball pickups and working on shooting. I'd say SkylineCoach has a good point in making sure stick protection is the main point. But, I'd say let the kids go to one hand as they develop.
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Re: Cradling -- instructional guidelines, please

Postby Jersey47 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 6:47 pm

When teaching cradling, I have always found that it is best to demonstrate the technique VERY slowly, using VERY exaggerated movements. First things first make sure the players are gripping the stick properly- out in their fingertips, rather than deep in the palm of their hands. For vertical two-hand cradle, make sure the head of the stick is kept "in the box". To teach the concept of cradling and "centrifugal force" I sometimes I will just have all the players put their sticks on the ground, and then place a ball in their very slightly "cupped" (almost flat palmed) hand. I explain to them that their hand represents the head and pocket of their stick. I then show them that if I "just" move my hand (whether held horizontally or vertically) the ball will roll off. BUT- if I coordinate hand movement, wrist rotation, arm movement I can create the centrifugal force needed to keep the ball in my hand without gripping it. To explain centrifugal force I will usually ask if any of the players have ever been on the ride at an amusement park where it spins you around, and then drops the floor out from under you , but your are "stuck" to the wall by the centrifugal force. Again I stress that this is exactly what we are trying to "duplicate" with the head of our lacrosse sticks. Usually most kids will "get" the concept.

I then always stress keeping the bottom hand still, with a loose grip allowing the stick to rotate in the bottom hand. Again I exaggerate everything, so I tell the players to keep their bottom hand in front of their navel, and keep it there. This gives players (especially the young ones a tangible reference). I'm also sure to show them what the "wrong way" looks like. This allows them to understand the reason why we do it the "right way". As for the proper wrist and arm action I tell the player to imagine that they are trying to "punch" their opposite shoulder with their top hand. To do this correctly - the player has to "curl" his wrist so that he can truly "punch" his opposite shoulder with the "face" (the area between the first and second knuckles on the fingers) of his fist. I have all the players practice the motion without a ball in their sticks. I tell them to slowly go through the motions, and notice how the "face" of their stick makes almost a virtual 360 degree turn, as they bring their top hand around to "punch" their opposite shoulder. Additionally at first I make sure that the elbow on their top hand is "up" almost parallel to the ground (again an exaggeration), but this helps the player to see the "coordination of the hand, wrist and arm, movements required. Also if you "imagine" that you are going to throw a punch, you do not do it with your arm or elbow "locked" to your side. I know a lot of people who teach more of the "wrist" motion without the arm movement too, but that tends to produce more of a "wiggle" rather that a true "cradle" Sometimes a player will have plenty of wrist curl to the inside, but not enough "wrist break" when "uncurling". Sometimes I describe the back and forth motion that I'm looking for in the wrist as a door "opening and closing" on it's hinges. Hence "close the door" (wrist curls in) "open the door" (wrist curls or "breaks" back out).

Again these methods have been helpful for me, I hope they can be of use to you.
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Re: Cradling -- instructional guidelines, please

Postby rebelhead » Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:02 pm

Excellent help -- thank you all.

Already the kids are doing better. I told them to cradle around the house at night, down the hallway and around the corner, around the kitchen, around the dog, etc. Or around the trees in the yard during the daytime. Always providing protection with their body and free hand. Incorporated "cradling tours" around the playground during practices (watch out for cleats on pavement!), and around cones in practice.

Great thing about this age is that they learn really fast.

Got some curious comments from Moms, too.

Thanks all.
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