The Infamous Behind-the-Back Shot and Other Great Stick Tricks!
part of an E-Lacrosse Interview with Trish Cummings
In this issue of Girls Lax Guide, I will discuss a classic advanced lacrosse move - the behind-the-back shot! I will also describe a variety of cool stick tricks that can help players feel comfortable handling their stick. It is very important to establish stick control, hand to eye coordination, judgment and accuracy in order to move to the collegiate lacrosse level. Have fun with your stick. Learn to love it and master it and soon you will feel its power on the field!
The behind the back shot is a very exciting and yet misunderstood shot. While often thought of as a hot dog move when used at the wrong times, it can also be the perfect shot to take at specific instances in a game. It is a deceptive shot that must be practiced almost to perfection before attempting in a real game. The shot requires exact spacing and timing in a specific area in front of the crease circle. The best spots to execute the behind the back shot are directly in front of the right goal post if shooting with the right hand or the left goal post if shooting lefty. In order to achieve success with this type of shot, players need to understand the following progression of ideas.
First, a cutting player receives a pass just in front of a goal post about 5-6 feet outside the crease circle. Then, the player should catch the pass and take one or two full cradles. By this point, the player should be just a few feet in front of the goal post. Next, if shooting right handed, the player must position her left shoulder towards the goal, extend her stick straight out and finish with a push-pull follow through motion around her back or slightly over her left shoulder as shown in the video.
The goalkeeper is expecting the shooter to take a standard right-handed shot on goal. Therefore, many goalkeepers work to cut off the angle by stepping up on the close goal post. However, a quick and well-placed behind the back shot catches her off guard, especially when accompanied by a fake. So, a goal can be scored even before she has time to see the ball shot right by her side.
Before shooting the ball, players must look in the direction of their shot on goal. Otherwise, the umpires could call it a dangerous shot.
Before attempting this type of shot in a game, be sure to practice the exact space and timing of your initial cut. You must focus on catching the ball first. Then, think about the perfect follow through slightly over your left shoulder.
With correct techniques you'll master the ever so popular and infamous behind-the-back shot.
Now, there it is! Practice! Practice! Practice! You can practice this shot on a wall like any other shot or pass. Once you've mastered the shot and can consistently hit any spot on the wall, try behind-the-back passing to get out of jams or hit an open cutter that scores before anyone knows she's got the ball!
Fancy Stick Tricks
Now we'll discuss some fancy stick tricks that give players the familiarity and control over their stick in a casual, relaxed and enjoyable manner. Without sounding corny, you must become "one" with your stick.
With the ball in the pocket of your stick, hold the stick in a horizontal position that is parallel to the ground, about waist level on the right side of your body with your dominant hand at the throat or top of your shaft. Your non-dominant hand is not holding the stick at all. The object is to throw the ball (about 1 or 2 feet) in the air, take the stick behind your back and catch the ball on the left side of your body with the stick in the same position. Now you can finish the trick by tossing it back in the air and catching the ball in its original position.
The second cool stick trick has the exact same setup as my first one. The object is to throw the ball up in the air from the right side of your body, but you want to bring the stick halfway around your body, drop it down behind you and through your legs. Catch the ball while you are holding the stick between your legs parallel to the ground. Once you make that fancy catch holding the stick in between your legs, you can finish the trick by popping the ball back up in front of your body and catch it at waist level again.
The third stick trick is simple to understand but difficult to perform. It has no direct value on the field other than to improve hand to eye coordination. Flip the ball just out in front of you. Then, swinging the stick handle forward and upward, meet the ball with the handle when the handle is parallel to the ground, sending the ball straight up a few feet. Then swing the stick back down to its normal position and catch the ball. This is harder than it looks but is a very cool little trick.
The last trick demonstrates the very fundamentals of the physics that govern most of our sport. A great player understands the science even if they don't realize it. If you take a coin and put it flat in the palm of your hand and then turn your hand over very quickly and then back again, the coin remains in place. This is CRADLING! Gravity makes the ball fall out of a stick. Inertia is what you create to keep the ball in the stick. Now apply the same to this MUCH harder stick trick. Pull the ball into your stick by raking. Without ever bringing the stick up to a level position, turn or move however you like to keep the ball in the stick without relying on gravity. See how long you can do it. This is not about skills as much as it is about smarts. BUT, get smart on this concept and you will see huge improvement in your skill level!
These tricks are not to be used in games. They are simply provided as fun stick tricks and an enjoyable way to become comfortable with stick handling. Have fun and practice that behind-the-back shot!