When learning how to really use the lacrosse stick it is of course great to play as many games of catch as you can anywhere and anytime you can. Playing games, and particularly smaller ones, like 3 on 3 Chumash, help players to improve their stick skills and learn the workings of the game of lacrosse pretty quickly. They are having so much fun from pretty much day one. If you get it, the game will come and get you. Then the game teaches you while you are playing it. What’s better than that?
PERFECT STICK WORK IS LIKE TWO TINKERBELLS
There is no ceiling that limits how high the stick work can go or how far that fact can take a player and or a team.
Good, solid, steady stick work enables a player to break the game action down by letting him see more of what is around him. A very fun and very beneficial path to a better stick takes the progressing player on frequent pilgrimages to ‘The Wall’, and rocking the Wall Ball Workout to the max while there, at the Wall. I became a humble Wall disciple very early in my lacrosse career and all the hundreds, oh God, maybe even thousands of hours (I’m ashamed to say) that I spent ‘on the Wall’ do not include even a single minute of regret or the hint of a thought that I wasn’t somehow better for whatever time me and my stick had just spent with a Wall and a lacrosse ball.
I am talking about thick and solid walls, the kind where the ball comes back hard and fast and you can operate angles. I am not referring to ‘rebounders’ that you take out of box, and set up in the back yard and that make that trampoline sound thing. That ain’t it. If there is space to move as you throw on the Wall, that is even better for ‘making it real’. Finding the Good Wall can sometimes be hard, but wherever you are in the civilized world, there is always some Wall somewhere nearby.
Personal Wall time is actually very demanding, and not just helpful in that warming up kind of way. You can build a player with a few good Walls, brick by brick. With good habits, anyone can piece together good stick work as a hallmark of their lacrosse character, and when you can work it like a wand, impossible really can become nothing for you as a lacrosse player.
WALL WORTH IT
When you play catch with a hard rubber ball and a truly worthy Wall, the ball comes off fast, and often with more spin than it had going in. This fact adds challenge, and alas, the extra spin can also put a little extra wear and tear on the pocket. If the Wall surface is on or adjacent to pavement the erosion factor is even greater as the ball picks up even more spin when it bounces. It is worth it.
NOBODY KNOWS……(too much TV)
The Great Wall offers lots of catching and throwing repetitions as part of the curriculum. That’s always a good thing. and then there is potential to develop good habits that come with being focused in an extreme way. The Wall can give you a glimpse of how to get to the next step on the way to becoming the player you want to become. Wall time always=Zen time for me. Rather than confining, the Wall experience was always and only enhanced by the games that we came up with to play with it.
IT’S IN THE BALL
The Wall game has an intensity, a bit of an edge built right in because of the almost defiant ‘spirit’ of the ball. It (ball) is the ironic confluence of really dense and heavy rubber shaped in a sphere, but it can move like a missile. Wind can influence it, but it is dense enough and usually going fast enough as to not have its flight effected a lot. You can play and also play with the winds. When ball hits cement wall flush it looks and sounds cool and unique. The lacrosse ball has great capabilities, including the ability to bounce very high and to spin really fast. The lacrosse Ball is also absolutely 100% waterproof. Come to think of it, it is pretty much the definition of waterproof.
Gravity is always a worthy ‘opponent’ dropping ball height in a hurry. Much of Wall ball includes scrambling to get the stick catch-ready and set up to do the next thing right away and pronto after throwing the ball TO the Wall.
WAX ON WAX OFF (it never ends, but rather comes round and round)
There are lots of Wall Ball drills and they are easy to make up, too. As the years went by, I know my ‘to-do’ list for the Wall got pretty big, and I know the Wall helped me to learn and grow as a player, and I can even say that the Wall itself offered me some really good lacrosse lessons along the way. The Wall always leaves improvement in its wake.
ME AND MY WALL
For me as young laxster there was always the extra ingredient of urgency added that got me in the truck and off to the Wall, because I started playing lacrosse a little late, coming over from baseball, and, as a collegiate player I only needed to look around me in order to see those who had more big time lacrosse experience than I had. The end result was that I became a complete maniac about going to the wall and I remained that way well into my 40′s/ later playing years.
Sea Walls make for great lax Walls because they are made of the thickest and best concrete pretty much known to man, and my Dad was a concrete guy, so I can pick out a good wall.
I spent many years in California at a time when my still burgeoning, almost single-minded brain was in full lax go mode and a beach of some sort was never very far from my doorstep. There are concrete sea Walls at the top of practically any Pacific beach front that is close to any kind of coastal civilization. The Walls aren’t all the same everywhere and they aren’t all just straight up and down either. There is much fun and Wall variety to be had on the California coast. There are beaches all the way up and down the California coast, of course, and my quest for the perfect lax Wall was constant and covered many years and had many different kinds of criteria taken into consideration. At the end of the day I have spent some time at pretty much any California beach you can think of, and I never went anywhere, let alone a beach without my trusted lacrosse stick and hopefully more than one ball.
With beach sand as the playing surface you can go barefoot and dive for the ball, too, while playing some really fast-paced ‘catch’ with yourself on sea Walls. The tides can add fun and challenge as well, churning the beach back and forth from hard pan to soft sand. Treachery can abound at high tide, because lacrosse balls don’t float and the ocean tends to eat them in a most unforgiving way. Playing on the beach in general you are often contending with sea monsters that try to pirate your ball and take it to the bottom of the ocean faster than you can say Charlie the Tuna. On top of that your pocket will also perish at a faster rate with the salt and sand that is part of the beach mix. I went anyway. I always rinsed after.
My personal favorite Wall was on a little beach near Carpenteria, and just north of a pretty famous surfing destination known as Rincon. Thick, wooden railroad ties make steps that take you way down from where you park to the beach area and sea level. Then, if you walk up the beach to the west for quite some distance there is a section of Wall that is literally to die for in terms of best Wall ball spot in the history of Wall ball. So why did I hike in so far to play at this special Wall? It was fun and exciting because the sand conditions were always changing and challenging. The top of the wall was flat and very high so you could/can throw the ball ‘far’ and hard and it will come all the way back. The really cool part was that the the bottom of the Wall flared down onto the sand. The result is that you can throw the ball hard and low, and it will bounce back higher in the air and a lax kid can have truly a ball with all that geometry.
I AM NOT CAPABLE OF MAKING THIS STUFF UP
The kicker to this little story is that this ‘perfect Wall’ is (was) on the far side of the “nude beach” all sanctioned by state-park-ness. That’s fine in and of itself. Been there, done that, and that in no way offends my politics even slightly, but I was never prepared to play any kind of buck naked, fast paced Wall ball. Too much hanging out don’t you know. Apparently volleyball is fine, but I digress. Anyway, I always felt like I was going through the gauntlet as I strolled past the Nudies with my shorts ON in order to get to my perfect place on just the other side of Nudeville. Somehow I always felt awkward for not being naked. And by the way, it’s not all just exactly Ken and Barbie out there naked at the nude beaches. Do they even still have those things?