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Shooting 101 with Mike Springer

Erik has been browsing the web and found what he regards as the best article he's seen on shooting skills.
It's available on
www.lax.com and features an article by Mike Springer……… regarded as "the world's best shooting attack-man" in his day!


Shooting 101 with Syracuse's Mike Springer
 First and foremost, in order to shoot the ball, one must get the ball. Off-ball action in the offensive end is critical for an individual, the offense, and the team to succeed on the field. For a player to get the ball in a position to shoot they must work hard off the ball whether it be V-cutting to get time and space from their defender, or cutting through the offense so that a teammate doesn't get doubled up. From here on in we will go through the process of what a player should focus on once they have already received the ball and clearly have an open Time and Room shot to take. Before anyone gets lost on terminology alone. A Time and Room shot in a game is when a player catches the ball and clearly has an open crank at the goal with plenty of time and room to set themselves up. Time and Room is just a commonly used term for what most people would simply perceive as a wide-open crank. A Time and Room Shot usually is not a straight overhand or complete underhand shot, but looks more like a three-quarters sidearm shot (Image #1).
You aren't on the run and there definitely is not a long pole lifting your elbow (Image #2).

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The overall process of an open Time and Room shot in lacrosse can be compared to the string of motions a basketball player goes through when they are on the charity line taking a foul shot. Just like Kobe and Shaq have their shooting routines on the hardwood (maybe Shaq's foul shooting is not a good example) every lacrosse player should have their own routines on the field. The basic catch, cradle and shot will look the same to the average spectator at a lacrosse game, just like the dribble, pause, and release of a foul shot would look to a casual observer of a basketball game. It's the little things in each shooter's routine that must be identified, practiced, and perfected. These little things are what normal fans are not able to identify, and what players must to improve their shooting. The three dribbles, two- second focus on the rim, placement of the ball in palm, fingers on the seems, slight knee bend, the tucked elbow, release, follow through, swishhhhhhhhhhhhh. Most people at basketball camp and youth leagues learn a basic routine somewhat like this when being taught how to shoot a foul shot. The following is a very general step-by-step explanation on what, why and how to do as one takes a Time and Room shot in lacrosse.

Right in the Sweet Spot
Once a player catches the ball in the stick they must cradle it into the right position in the stick. This isn't always the two or three quick wrist cradles you give to make sure that the ball is in there, but usually one or two big cradles which sometimes may involve a full spin of the stick. While most youth and high school coaches will demand that you never ever spin your stick, if you watch some good shooters shoot, a lot of them will actually give a big backward or forward spin of their stick to lodge the ball into the sweet spot of the stick. As the ball is being setup in the stick by the cradle, the player should start taking a crow-hop step towards the goal as they proceed to crank the stick backwards. As the stick is being drawn back there are a several things to think about and work on that can help to improve your shot. Once the stick is cranked and the shot is started the only other thing to really do is follow through, so extreme focus on a few things during the backswing is absolutely huge.

Don't Look Like a TRex
Everyone that has seen Jurassic Park will hopefully be able to picture this analogy. If you remember the Tyrannosaurus Rex, you will hopefully remember how it had absolutely enormous teeth and claws, but ridiculously small arms compared to its body size. When you are shooting you don't ever wanna look like a big TRex with its short, stumpy arms barely protruding away from its chest. Focus on getting your hands and elbows away from your body. There is a reason people say "You throw like a girl", and it is not a sexist one at all. When a little kid (not just girls) start throwing a ball when they are young, their elbows tend to stay really close to their sides as they kind of just flick their wrist and elbow. When girls and boys learn how to correctly throw a ball, they cock their arms way behind their backs with their arms fully extended (their elbows aren't even close to their rib area). The same thing is generally true in lacrosse except nobody uses that stupid saying. Shooting and passing are two totally different things, and while a quick flick of the wrist may get you an assist in the boxscore you will need more power for a Time and Room shot from outside. A lot of this power will be generated in the backswing of your shot. Getting your hands and elbows away from your side/ribs
and cranked as far back as possible/comfortable will help generate a lot more mph's on your shot then shooting like a T-Rex. See Images #3-#5.

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To Whip or Not to Whip
This is a small point about stick stringing and the advantages and disadvantages of having whip in your stick. One of the many reasons people feel that a stick strung with some whip brings about a faster shot, is the fact that the stick can be brought back further without the ball falling out as easily. For example, take a look at a girl's lacrosse game and watch them shoot. Are the girls able to get their sticks way back and crank it up? Just for fun grab your stick (whether it has a big pocket with lots of whip or not) and see how far back you can crank it without the ball coming out, then try doing it with a girl's stick. The point here is that with a girl's stick you can't get the stick back nearly as far, leading to less leverage (speed) behind the shot. The same basic concept applies to a stick with little to no whip when compared to a stick with a big pocket with a lot of whip. The stick with more whip will allow a player to bring a stick much further back and gain a lot more leverage on their shot then a stick with a lesser pocket and minimal whip. So why don't we all go crank up our shooting strings real tight and yank our leathers out? Well if you have more whip and a bigger pocket to help you shoot, then other aspects of your game are going to suffer dramatically. How many times in a game do you actually get a chance to take a Time and Room shot? If you sacrifice not being able to feed the crease or make quick passes to wide-open teammates all game for just two or three cranks shot, then it probably isn't worth ruining your stick. What players should try and do is find a happy medium with their stick that allows them to consistently pass and feed all a game, but when the time comes to take those Time and Room shots to still be able to get enough power on their shot to beat the goalie.

Hide and Seek

Other then leverage and power, the next best reason to crank your stick back AFAP (as far as possible), is for deception. It is much harder for a goalie to see your release and to pick up the ball coming out of your stick if it is coming from way behind your head. If your stick is completely visible at your hip the entire time you are shooting then the goalie has never lost track of the ball and will not have a real difficult time picking it up coming out of your stick. Hiding your stick behind you is the same basic concept as using the all-white stick. Before all these crazy dye jobs and neon mesh started coming out, people played with all-white heads with all-white stringing. What is the big deal if I have hot pink mesh in a graffiti yellow and green head? If the goalie takes an extra fraction of a second to pick up the all-white ball coming out of your all-white stick with all-white stringing, then as a shooter it may be advantageous to you. It is simple; some goalies say it is just a little easier to pick up a white ball in a colored head. Nothing real scientific or anything. See Image #6.


Ready, AIM…
It seems kind of ridiculous to tell people to aim when they are shooting (kind of like when my Mom tells me,"Don't get into an accident!"). It really doesn't have to be said, but it is. Some players, younger ones especially, are so happy that they are getting a chance to shoot the ball that they just cock it back and let it go as hard as they can at the goal. The point here is that a player shouldn't be shooting just at the goal, they should be shooting at a specific spot within the 36-square feet. Some coaches will tell you to look at the goalie and shoot where he is not, some will tell you to look at the open net around the goalie, some will say look at the goalies feet, some will say shoot low and away, some will say shoot high and tight. Maybe the goalie is way out of position on the off pipe that all you really have to do is bring it near pipe. Maybe the goalie is cheating so far low it would be ridiculous to shoot it anywhere but top-shelf. The point here is aim when you shoot. Corners are preferred, but off-hip and five-hole are acceptable. When you are getting ready to shoot, take that extra second and think about where you are going to shoot the ball. You will usually have more time than you think to aim and get a legit shot off. That extra half second or so used to think about where you are
putting the ball may mean the difference between you sprinting back on defense as the goalie outlets your gumball into a fast-break, or you high-fiving your teammates.


After you have cocked your gun and set your sites, you are pretty much ready to fire away (See Image #7). As you start to bring your stick and arms through the motions of shooting, the big thing to try and do is to snap your wrists. Some good lacrosse shooters will have problems when they play golf because they are used to snapping their wrists through, when in golf you are suppose to try and keep you guide arm and wrists straight through your shot. Good shooters should have fairly strong wrists and forearms from the constant usage and stress on them from shooting. As you snap your wrists through the shot, the finishing touch is to make sure you…


Follow Through
Follow Through and do it properly because it helps direct your body and shot's energy along with increasing the accuracy of the shot. As your stick and body follows through, they both should end up pointing at the goal. The stick more or less should be pointing at the area you were aiming at. If your shoulders aren't all the way square to the goal and fading off towards the side then it would make sense that your shot isn't dead on and wide of the goal. If you are following through to a point just to the right of the goal, and your stick, shoulders, and toes are all pointing to the right of the goal, then you know that? There is a much better chance of your shot going to the right of the goal. See Images #8 & #9.

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Catch, Cradle, Cock, Aim, Crank, Snap Wrists, Follow Through, Ping!

See Entire Shot Sequence following Image #9

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