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The first time I had a catch, the fiddlestick in my hand felt so awkward and wrong that I eventually turned it upside down and pretended it was a sword. That was way more fun than trying to catch the tennis ball in the crosse of my stick while I held it parallel to the ground. It was nearly impossible for me to catch the ball and I wasn’t going to waste time trying to do so.

A few years later, I have the lacrosse stick firmly gripped with my hands. My eyes fixed on the brick wall in front of me. My right foot plants as I launch the ball towards the makeshift bounce-back. The rebound falls nicely into my stick and satisfaction flows through my body as I try to keep a straight face to prove that was no big deal. I cradle once, pull the stick behind my ear, and launch another pass to the wall. After I have successfully played catch with the bricks for about two minutes, I decide it’s time to pack it up and call it a day. A voice questions from behind me “Try some in your right hand too”. I turn and quizzically look at my father, I didn’t even know that catching and throwing with your other hands was even possible. I try my best, but I spend more time chasing the lacrosse ball around the parking lot than I do throwing and catching.

Despite all of my failures trying to have a catch, I would always come back to it. Even now, I am always in the mood to toss around. It’s therapeutic. Feeling the ball snap out of the stick as the ball flies towards its target and catching the ball with soft hands as the ball returns to the stick. Throwing with a partner is even better, the return flight of the ball is never the same, neither is your target. The unpredictable element makes having a catch with a partner even more entertaining. It also makes it a little bit harder, but that is what separates having a lacrosse catch from anything else.

It is pretty easy to successfully kick a soccer ball for the first time, most kids can catch a baseball in their mitt right away, and within a day or two someone could throw a nice spiral. I haven’t seen many people ever pick up a lacrosse stick and be able to catch in throw with success in their first go. It is honestly pretty difficult. The ball barely fits in the head of the stick, it isn’t easy trying to throw the ball at such a little target when you can’t even hold the ball with your own hands, and most think it would just be easier trying to catch the ball with the stick like it was a basketball net. Perhaps the initial struggle of lacrosse is a barrier of entry into the sport. There are probably more than a few who give up on lacrosse after failing at the most rudimentary part of the game.

However, once catching and throwing are mastered, it is unquestionable beautiful and mesmerizing. Some of the freestyle moves that people can pull off are mind-boggling. A quick YouTube search of Matt Gibson or Kevin Crowley will display some of the most impressive feats when it comes to the ability to catch and throw. Some players pull of highlight-reel passes in games, like the effortless behind-the-back passes Connor Fields throws or the unreal around-the-world assist Paul Rabil unleashed at the PLL All-Star game. All of these skills help draw attention to the sport and inspire the younger generation of players to practice these moves at home. However, I am certain these skills will soon become things of the past as different creative passes and shots will make their way into mainstream lacrosse.

The sport of lacrosse is getting more creative by the day. One-handed passes, between the legs shots, and countless other moves that give the game its flair. It all starts with catching and throwing. Players are always trying to find new ways for the ball to get out of their stick, something to store in their back pocket and bring out at the perfect time. The lacrosse stick is becoming an extension of the body for players. It moves wildly yet fluidly as the ball comes out at all different angles and heights. Quite frankly it is a beautiful thing to watch and the future of lacrosse is set to be more exciting than ever.

Despite the ever-increasing influence of creativity and freestyle in lacrosse, all of these moves started with the same frustrations every beginner has with lacrosse. Mumbled profanities as they chase down the ball they couldn’t catch. However, they pushed through their frustrations and produced moments of magic. So, as the wait for the next generation of moves continues, plenty of missed catches and bad throws will turn into the next mind-blowing moment.

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