Reps reign supreme! When setting up a training regimen, I like to think of ways that will give players as many touches as possible. You hear all the time from coaches, “Play Wall-Ball.” But what does that mean specifically? Below is a workout I developed over the years that focuses on all the important aspects of fine-tuning your stick. Make your stick an extension of your body. I played wall ball behind the grocery store in my neighborhood growing up, multiple times a week. It was the most reliable teammate I had over the years. The wall was there for me regardless of whatever else I had going on in my life. Make it part of your hometown lacrosse experience!
Phase 1, Quick Stick/Rapid Fire:
Line up around 3-5 yards from the wall. First, 50 right hand throw and catches without cradling. After completing 50 right hand throw and catches, do the same with your left. Did you notice I didn’t mention starting with your strong-hand? With “wall ball” anything you do right, you follow-up left. This stage is great because it allows you to work on quick sticks, hand eye coordination, and one timers. You will become better about getting rid of the ball in a timely fashion without even noticing it by practicing this stage.
Phase 2, 12 Yard Passing:
Line up 12 yards from the wall. Start with 30 right hand throws, which will come back to you on one bounce. When you retrieve the ball from the one bounce, cradle once, then follow-up with the next throw. When you have completed 30 right handed throws, follow-up with 30 left.
Phase 3, Throwing & Catching On The Run:
This may be my favorite and most helpful stage. First I start line up 5-7 yards from the wall on the far left side of the wall. I begin this stage with the stick in my right hand and while I am running alongside the wall (towards the other end), I throw and catch the ball on the run. The important part is to throw the ball on the run and not always catching the ball stick side. I like to do this during every stage. Do you always get a pass stick side? No. Therefore, in your training you should throw the ball against the wall and catch it cross hand (or across your face). After I run one length of the wall, I run back to the other end throwing lefty (doing the same thing I did with my right). Keep repeating these steps. This stage should be done for about 5-7 minutes.
Phase 4, Shooting:
Line-up around 12-15 yards from the wall. Get in proper shooting formation (hands loose, three quarter/overhand motion, snapping of the hips, and following threw) mark a few places on the wall with tape to aim at. Shoot at about 80% velocity, having the ball come back to you with one bounce. Depending on where you aim, the ball may take bounces that aren’t the same, so you have to work a little bit. Start with 25 right, and follow up with about 25 left.
Phase 5, One Handers:
Copy everything you did in Phase 1, but do it with one hand on your stick. When doing the right-handed stage of this phase, have your right hand three quarters the way up the shaft. This will be done with one hand only (your left hand is by your side). When doing the left-handed stage of this phase, have your left hand three quarters the way up the shaft. This will be done with one hand only (your right hand is by your side). Instead of 50 per hand like in Phase 1, do just 30. This phase concentrates on top hand strength and snappy wrist movements…it’s crazy good for your game!
Phase 6, Trickery:
This stage is fun. This is a great time to practice behind the backs (make sure you are not following threw too much. Step in the direction you are aiming, and the behind the back motion is only about a foot, with the head of your stick ending up hitting the top part of your arm near your shoulder). Around the world, threw the legs, and any other creative stuff can be incorporated at this time. I would leave around 5 minutes for this stage. I am a firm believer that this stage is important. If you can pull this stage off (and only if you are mastering the other 5 stages should you try this stage), it is an indication that you have a strong comfort level with your stick and great hand eye coordination. It is also a stage that can help you in terms pulling something off in a game that is nice to watch and necessary. There are times in a game when a behind the back is the only option.
So there it is, six stages of ‘Wall Ball.” Bring your iPhone with your favorite beats and dress for the elements if necessary (snow on the ground is not an excuse to skip the workout). Do what you have to do to get in at least five days a week for 20-minutes/per day of Wall Ball. If you master the wall, your game will reach new heights…NO DOUBT!