Tag Archives: ground ball

First Day Of Fall Ball

Published by:

What a terrific start to the Fall Ball season! I wanted to give everyone my impressions of how each age group did while they were fresh in my mind, so here it goes:


  • We had three U9 games going on simultaneously so I was only able to see two of the teams in that age level play. What I did see what pretty impressive. Kids were picking up ground balls and moving to open space. They were looking for passes upfield. They were also stick checking very well.
  • The first day is always the trickiest day because everyone is excited to be out there, but also nervous about making a mistake. To all the players, please try not to worry about screwing up. It will happen, but try to focus on doing something positive the next time you have the ball.
  • Last observation at the U9 level is that, at least in my game, there were a few times when the ball was on the ground and a player would just put his stick over the ball and leave it there. That is considered witholding the ball from play, and will result in a turnover. Try instead to run through the ball on the ground. I promise the lower you get the greater your chances at getting the ground ball.


  • I was on the field for most of the U11 games and I saw some pretty good lacrosse out of each team. The goalies for each of the teams stepped up big time in the cage and had some excellent outlet passes to breaking midfielders.
  • While we had few penalties in the U11 games, I must ask the coaches to emphasize less stick swinging and more body position when playing defense. There were times when a player would swing his stick and just miss the player he was guarding. Then he would be completely out of position and he would get burned by a dodge. Players, remember that you play defense with your feet first, body second, and stick third.
  • Last observation at this level is that there were too many individuals and not enough team play. Frankly, I expected exactly that. Get the ball to your perceived best player and let them waltz into the defense and shoot. Unfortunately, that does not translate well to higher levels of play and will start to work less and less as teams get better on defense each week. More passing on offense to generate high-percentage shots should be what each team is looking for.


  • Man does the U13 teams have some athletes! I was running up and down the field on fast breaks and clears just to keep pace with the players. Most of the players did an excellent job picking up ground balls and running to space. Then finding the open man to pass to for an easy shot.
  • As in the U11 observations, there were individuals playing the game and not necessarily playing as a team. I must emphasize the importance of communication at this level. The game is faster and requires more talk between players so that everyone knows what is going on. As the weeks progress, the players will learn more about one another, and we will start seeing the teams gel.
  • Last observation at the U13 level is that we cannot have competitive games if players do not show up. We had two or three teams where we had to scramble to find additional players to field a full ten on ten game. Players, get on your buddies and find out why they weren’t able to make it. Remember that the Master Game Schedule is available for all families to plan out your weekends so your child can participate in the games.

It seemed to me that our kids left the field with smiles on their faces, which tells me we had a great day of lacrosse and a fantastic start to the Fall Ball season. As always, if anyone has any rule questions that they didn’t get the opportunity to ask during the Sideline Q&A you can send them to rules@ayllax.com.




The Basics: Ground Ball Pickup

Published by:

Easily one of the most fundamental skills of lacrosse is how to properly pick up a ground ball. In youth games especially, the ball is on the ground quite often, so knowing how to pick up a ground ball (or GB) is paramount in youth lacrosse. However, there is more to picking up a ground ball than just bending over and scooping through. Players should also shout out “ball” to let their teammates know to get out of the way. They must get low enough to make scooping a natural and smooth motion. Plus, they need to run away, preferably with a wide turn, in order to avoid the opponents that want to check the ball out of their stick.

If there is one key thing to remember about picking up a ground ball it is this – The player who wants the ball the most and tries to pick it up as perfectly as they can, will get the ball in a tough scrum. To all new and experienced players and parents, here is the second video in the series entitled “The Basics.” It details how to properly pick up a ground ball, and two drills that coaches can use to teach players how to pick up a GB more effectively.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to comment below!


Three Steps

Published by:

A few years ago I was paired up with two excellent youth coaches for a series of lacrosse clinics at an Atlanta middle school. The job was simple, but I had one problem. The kids were not responding to me very much. My coaching friend laid it out to me during the second clinic. “Gordon – with kids it’s best to explain things as simply as possible. That means take all the explaining you are doing and shorten it into three steps.”

He was right. As soon as I shortened my explanation of a new skill, the kids zeroed in on what I was talking about and executed the technique well. They were paying attention better too. Earlier in the clinics, when I was explaining a drill they would zone out and get that “dude, get on with it” look on their faces. Kids want action, and lets face it, they have shorter attention spans than an adult. So we as coaches must tailor our explanation of skills, drills, and game strategy to a few easy-to-repeat steps.

Here is my extremely detailed method of picking up a ground ball:

  1. See the ball on the ground
  2. Yell “I got ball” or ball
  3. Run towards the ball
  4. Place your front foot as close to the ball as possible
  5. Bend down as low as possible
  6. Keeping your stick close to the ground, run through the ball until it is in your stick
  7. Give the stick a slight cradle as soon as the ball is in your stick
  8. Bring the head of your stick close to, but not touching, your helmet
  9. As you continue to run yell “Release!”
  10. Run in a wide arc to separate yourself from pursuers
  11. Once you are safely away from other players, look for the open pass or shot

Did anyone else get bored and wonder when the heck is this list over with? If you did you know exactly how a youth player feels when a coach talks, and talks and talks. The player is thinking, “when is coach going to get this over with and let us do a drill?” As I said earlier, kids crave action. So spend some time and review your talking points with a willing adult. If they get bored listening to you explain a drill, chances are your players will do the same.

Now lets take a look at my truncated, but still perfectly valid ground ball explanation:

  1. Bend down as low as possible
  2. Run through the ball until it is in your stick
  3. Keep running

Simple. Direct. Repeatable. When I explain how to pick up a ground ball to new players I start with #1, then restate #1 and state #2. Then I wrap up by stating #1, 2, and 3 together. That gets the technique drilled into the player’s mind effectively through repetition. By the time I am finished, all of the players are thinking “bend down, run through, and run.” That accomplishes the core skills required to pick up a ground ball.

Everything else that I listed above can be added to future ground ball drills. For instance, I don’t require players to shout out “I got ball” during the first ground ball drill they ever do. What does it accomplish to the actual task of picking up a GB? Nothing! Let the kids worry about steps 1-3, and then after a few repetitions, add in the ball shout.

So avoid bogging down your young player’s minds with extraneous detail. Save that for small group or one on one work. Instead, focus on shortening your explanations so you and your players can get to the action.


As always new post ideas may be emailed to rules@ayllax.com.