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Ground Ball Work: Stick Protection and Drills

scooping the lacrosse ball

In many ways, ground ball work is what separates the dedicated lacrosse players from those that merely get by with athleticism. A player with good ground ball skills is a player that many coaches and teammates want on their team. Unfortunately, too many players often focus on passing, catching and scoring, but overlook the skill of scooping ground balls. For those players looking to step their game up to another level by improving their ground ball fundamentals and lacrosse stick protection, here are some quick drills to practice.


Ground balls that are not moving can be rare in the fast paced play of a lacrosse game, which is why it is even more critical for a player to be skilled at scooping them up. Depending on the play, a ground ball at a dead stop can be one of the hardest to scoop up. Balls that are in motion are generally easier to field; however, all ground balls can be easily scooped if you demonstrate proper technique.

When practicing your ground ball work, scooping is one of, if not the most, essential fundamental skill a lacrosse player can develop. To help you develop your scooping skills, here is a step-by-step drill for you to try. For this drill you will need at least two sticks and lacrosse balls.

  • Charge the ball from 100 feet away
  • Plant one foot on one side of the ball shielding it from the defender
  • Keep your lower body down and stick tucked close to your body
  • Scoop through the ball, bringing it up toward your face as your momentum explodes forward

As you can see from the progression of this drill, it aims at accomplishing an effective scoop that also improves your ground ball and stick protection skills. As far as ground ball lacrosse drills are concerned, this is one of the most effective drills you can do to make you a more versatile and crafty player.

If you want to try a modification of this drill, grab a partner and have them roll the ball to you while you charge at it demonstrating the same foot planting and stick scooping motion. Then, if you want even more of a challenge, have a third person charge at you from the side trying to get the ball as you scoop. This will develop your scooping and stick protection skills and test them under simulated gameplay conditions.

Scoop And Cradle

Cradling is a necessary skill for both ball and stick protection when a defender is in your face. To practice cradle drills:

  • Use the skills displayed in the previous drill to scoop a non-moving ball at your feet.
  • Next, with another player attempting to get the ball, scoop it up toward your face, subsequently creating space between you and the defender.
  • Then, with ample space created between you and the defender cradle the ball with your stick, rotating the stick with your top hand and guiding with the bottom.

As mentioned, the above drills are optimal for improving your ground ball and stick protection skills. They specifically work to better your scooping ability at varying degrees of competition. While performing the scooping drills, you can make them as easy, or as difficult, as you like. What’s more, it is recommended that you start out with the simple scooping motion before adding the variables of moving balls and defenders to increase the drill difficulty, especially if you are a beginner.