Straight Shooters

Drills, conditioning key for beginners

May 18, 2008

"Straight Shooters" answers your youth lacrosse questions with the help of US Lacrosse experts. This week's "Straight Shooter" is Lindsey Biles of Annapolis. Biles was an All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist during her college career at Princeton and was a member of the 2006-07 U.S. women's national team. Biles also works as a sideline analyst for ESPNU.

Q: I am a beginner and I just started last year. I really enjoyed it. Do you have advice to help me get better at lacrosse? What are good exercises to get in shape? Do you have any good drills for me? Andrea Springer, seventh-grader, Hamburg (N.Y.) Middle School

A: I'm so happy to hear you've decided to play lacrosse! Not only is it the fastest-growing women's sport in the country, but it is also one of the most fun. Since you are just starting out, my best advice is to practice your stick skills. Find a partner to play catch with. If you can't, a good brick or concrete wall to throw against will do. Start with 10 passes with your right hand to your partner's right hand, then 10 passes with your right hand to your partner's left hand. Then repeat the process - only this time, pass with your left hand. Being equally good with both hands is very important and will give you such an advantage in games.

Work on hitting your partner's stick head, or if throwing against a wall, pinpoint a spot a little bit above shoulder level and practice hitting it with an accurate, hard, direct pass every time. You should catch the ball slightly above shoulder level with your stick upright, giving as you receive the ball to prevent it from bouncing out. If you can, practice 10 to 20 minutes every day, or at least a couple times a week. After you've warmed up, practice throwing and catching on the run - pass laterally while you and a partner run down a field, simulating a "give-and-go" in a game, and make sure to throw the ball slightly in front of your partner so that she doesn't have to slow down when catching. Again, practice with both hands. A good 20-minute passing-running practice will improve your stick skills and your conditioning. And don't forget to practice scooping ground balls.

For endurance conditioning, try running one or more miles three times a week. Sprint work is equally important, however, so practice sprinting forward and backward 10 yards for 30 seconds, resting 30 seconds and repeating. Work on exploding off the line as fast as you can and on making quick pivots. Your first step is crucial to getting a head start on the lacrosse field. Also work on longer, 100-yard sprints to increase your sprint endurance, and on lateral shuffles and karaoke for 10-yard intervals to quicken your feet.

All it takes is a little practice. The more you practice, the better you will get and the more fun the game will become.

"Straight Shooters" runs every Sunday in The Sun and at E-mail your youth lacrosse questions to and include a phone number for e-mail verification. The series can also be found on Lacrosse Magazine online at US Lacrosse, headquartered in Baltimore, is the national governing body of men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more about playing, coaching and officiating lacrosse at

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