Lacrosse equipment has improved drastically since the days of wooden sticks and training is now a complex science thanks to YouTube and Instagram videos, but no matter how the sport of lacrosse changes the most important tool a player can have will always be a wall.
The foundation of every lacrosse player’s stick skills comes from spending time on the wall. From PLL All-Stars to first time players, they both will spend time on the wall. Rep after rep and miss after miss on the never ending journey of trying to master the stick.
Wall ball is important throughout the year, but in winter it is more crucial than ever.
As college player’s need to tune in their sticks for the season, high school players prepare for tryouts, and young players are just getting started learning to catch and throw finding a wall will give them the chance to get better on their own away from practice. Getting at least 20 minutes of wall ball in a day will make a huge difference being able to go through practice drills or a game confidently.
High school and college teams do wall ball tests for a reason. If a player can get 40 or more reps in 30 seconds with both hands without dropping the ball then they can likely be relied upon during a game. If they can make one handed or behind the back passes than they can react and also make plays in a tough spot.
It is a measuring stick for who can move the ball accurately on man-up, make the break out pass, or catch a feed on the crease. The best players are usually the ones who dominate these tests. They’re the players that go through it effortlessly because they have paid their dues on the wall to be able to make the plays when it matters most.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that one of the best forms of therapy after a tough loss, a frustrating day of school or work, or after a tragic event is to play wall ball.
To only have to focus on the stick flowing freely through your hands as you effortlessly throw the ball against the wall. It’s like running on a trail in the woods with no music. Clearing your mind and getting into that zone where everything seems to move slowly. You are in control.
Find your wall and become a better lacrosse player while also finding a moment of peace during our hectic everyday lives.
When I think of the different walls I’ve used I think of my backyard and the brick wall behind my garage. Missing passes and hitting my neighbors RV and then running inside to hide. The uneven bricks on the side of De La Salle Collegiate High School. My basement walls where I had barely enough room to throw against. The walls of the Patty Lee gym at Canisius where I spent countless hours breaking in new sticks, trying to catch up to my teammates’ stick skills, getting ready for games, and dreaming of making the game winning play.
With every wall comes the chance of hitting lights, vents, windows, and breaking things. Hitting yourself in the face or other sensitive parts of the body when you can’t react quickly enough to a bad bounce. Getting strange looks from people walking by wondering what you’re doing, but if you really want to get better you can’t worry about what your friends or other people think of you.
Players of all ages should take advantage of open gym time at their school or local rec center. They can go outside and find a clear spot or shovel snow to make their own. Young players especially should bring their stick with them to school so they can do 20 minutes of wall ball in the gym before they go home. They can even invite their teammates to tag along so they can all improve together.
Having a tough time finding a wall where you live? The next best thing is to play catch with someone. It could be anyone. A teammate, a friend who has never played before, or one of your parents.
You can get creative and find any surface to throw a ball at. You don’t have to go to an abandoned building like Mikey Powell, but find somewhere to let your creativity with the stick flow and get better all while having fun.