Cradling is an important Lacrosse move. However, many players don’t understand the purpose of cradling or why they’re doing it and many simply are not doing it right to begin with. Cradling allows you to control the ball while allowing different stick positions. When properly cradling the ball in the pocket, you can hold the stick vertically to run through your checks. The actual purpose of cradling is to get the ball in the “sweet” spot of the pocket before you throw it.
Proper hand positioning is key to this maneuver. When you have the stick in your hand, you don’t want to put it in your palm and you don’t want to put it in your fingertips. Put it in the happy medium where your hand and fingers connect. This will give you soft hands on the top hand and on the bottom hand. You always want to be top hand dominant for more control (meaning that your top hand will do most of the work).
Flex your biceps in with a constant rolling/cradling motion with the top hand. You want to continuously, yet gently rock the stick in a back and forth motion with your bottom hand on the end of the stick. Keep that end close to your body with your fingers loosely gripped on the handle for extra guiding power. A loose grip will allow for more fluid movement. You don’t want to choke your stick… but you also don’t want to hold it too far down where you lose control. Find that happy medium. You should hold your stick with your arms shoulder length apart when your stick is at your waist (you should also have about 24″ or 2 rulers length between your hands).
When running or moving, you want to go with your body’s natural movement. While running, your body moves opposite arm… opposite foot. (When your left leg in up, your right arm goes forward (and vice versa) in a rhythmic motion). You should follow with this rhythm even when the stick is in your hand. Left leg up… right arm goes up with the stick. Be sure to practice making this movement fluid. So many players jerk the stick around unnecessarily in an effort to cradle the ball. Avoid any exaggerated movement as you will have less control over the ball and run the risk of losing it. You can actually force the ball out of the pocket if your movements are too quick and big.
Once you have mastered this technique, you will realize what movements you can make while still controlling the ball. Cradling takes a lot of practice to master.
1. Work on proper hand positioning.
2. Hold the stick with your hands shoulder length apart.
3. Remember that your top hand will do most of the work.
4. Keep a loose grip on the stick for more guiding power.
5. Avoid big, exaggerated movements. Practice fluid rocking motions.
6. Keep in line with natural body movement of opposite arm, opposite foot.