Lacrosse Cradling: Mastering the Essential Skill

Lacrosse is a fast-paced and exciting sport that requires a unique blend of athleticism, speed, and strategy. One of the fundamental skills every lacrosse player should master is cradling. So, what exactly is lacrosse cradling? It is the technique used to control the ball and maintain possession while maneuvering the field. By properly cradling the ball, you can fend off opposing players and make accurate passes and shots.

Cradling involves securely holding the ball within the pocket of your stick by gently rocking the handle from side to side, creating an up-and-down motion. This movement keeps the ball securely in place, providing maximum control over possession. As you progress in your lacrosse journey, mastering this essential skill can vastly improve your overall gameplay.

To improve your cradling skills, practice different techniques and drills that focus on ball protection and control. Remember, cradling not only helps you maintain possession but also allows you to explore various playing options such as passing, shooting, and dodging. So, don’t wait any longer – grab your lacrosse stick and start practicing your cradling technique today!

Basics of Lacrosse Cradling

Why Cradling Is Crucial

Cradling is an essential skill in lacrosse that allows you to move the ball with greater control while running and dodging opponents. By rocking the handle of your lacrosse stick from side to side, you create an up-and-down movement, keeping the ball securely in the pocket. Proper cradling helps you maintain possession and prepares you for smooth transitions to passing or shooting. Mastering this skill is crucial for success in playing lacrosse.

Proper Equipment for Cradling

To cradle effectively, you’ll need suitable equipment that complements your technique:

Proper Equipment for Cradling
  • Lacrosse Stick: Your stick should have a sturdy shaft and a head with a suitable pocket for your skill level. The pocket’s depth and tension can affect your ability to cradle and control the ball.
  • Gloves: High-quality lacrosse gloves provide ample grip and protection as you cradle the ball. Make sure your gloves fit comfortably and allow for adequate dexterity when handling your lacrosse stick.
  • Dominant Hand Grip: Use an underhand grip near the top of the shaft for stability and a steady cradling motion. Be prepared to transition between your dominant and non-dominant hands for added protection against defenders.

Understanding the importance of cradling and using the appropriate equipment, you’ll be on your way to improving your lacrosse skills and becoming a more effective player on the field. Remember to practice regularly, and soon you’ll master the art of lacrosse cradling.

How to Cradle a Lacrosse Ball

Basic Lacrosse Cradling Technique

To master cradling in lacrosse, it’s essential to understand the basic technique. Start by holding the lacrosse stick with your hands about shoulder-width apart. This grip will provide you with better control during cradling.

  1. The Top Hand: Place your top hand at the end of the stick with your fingers wrapped around it for a firm grip. The top hand will control the stick’s motion during cradling.
  2. The Bottom Hand: Your bottom hand should lightly support the stick about halfway down the shaft.

Not difficult to find a lot of videos on YouTube. Here is one:

Now, practice cradling by moving the top hand in a U-shaped motion. This will cause the lacrosse head to rock back and forth, keeping the ball securely in the pocket. As you get comfortable with the motion, try cradling while jogging or running to build up your muscle memory.

Advanced Cradling Techniques

Once you’ve mastered the basic lacrosse cradling technique, you can move on to more advanced cradling techniques to improve your versatility on the field.

  • One-handed cradling: This advanced technique allows for greater mobility and quicker dodges. To perform a one-handed cradle, remove your bottom hand from the stick and cradle the ball using only your top hand. Ensure that you maintain a firm grip and control of the stick.
  • Switching hands: Being able to switch hands while cradling is essential for maintaining possession and outmaneuvering your opponents. To switch hands, first, control the motion of the cradling with your current top hand by sliding it to the midpoint of the shaft. Then, place your other hand at the end of the stick and continue cradling. Practice this motion until you can seamlessly switch hands while on the move.

As you work on these advanced techniques, remember to maintain a friendly and open attitude on the field. Strive to strengthen your cradling skills, but also enjoy the process of improvement. Your determination and positivity will make you a true asset to your team.

Common Mistakes and Corrections

Avoiding Common Cradling Errors

When learning how to cradle in lacrosse, there are a few common errors you should avoid:

  1. The stick is horizontal at hip level: This makes the ball an easy target for defenders and makes it challenging to pass, shoot, or dodge. To fix this, keep the stick head up, which offers better control and protection.
Stick is horizontal at hip level
  1. The bottom hand is too tight or doing all the work: A tight grip may lead to less control over the ball and difficulty transitioning between different movements. Loosen up your grip and find a balance between your hands, which distribute the work evenly.

By being aware of these errors and making the necessary adjustments, you can improve your cradling technique and better your skills on the field.

Ways to Improve Cradling Skills

Here are some helpful tips to hone your cradling technique:

  • Hand positioning: Start by placing your bottom hand near the butt end of the lacrosse shaft and loosely wrap your fingers around the shaft. Your top hand should be near the top of the lacrosse shaft, gripping it underhand. As you get better at cradling, gradually move your top hand a few inches down from the very top.
  • Stick positioning: Maintaining the proper angle of your stick is crucial. Keep the head of the stick vertical, close to your body, and protect it from defenders as you run and dodge.
  • Practice: Cradling is a vital skill that requires repetition and practice. Use training tools like Swax Lax balls, which are the same size and weight as regulation balls, to help build muscle memory and refine your technique.

Remember that practice makes perfect, and learning how to cradle effectively will ultimately improve your overall lacrosse game. Stay diligent, and you’ll see progress in no time!

Drills for Lacrosse Cradling

Solo Cradling Drills

To improve your lacrosse cradling skills, start with some solo cradling drills. Begin by running down the field, cradling the ball in your strong hand. On your way back, switch to cradling in your opposite hand. Remember to focus on using your forearm and wrist in sync, rather than just your wrist.

Another solo drill is the Pick Up drill:

  • Start with the ball resting on the ground.
  • Take a step with your dominant foot and swing your stick down.
  • Scoop the ball into your net and bring it up to your neck.
  • Immediately start cradling the ball.

You can also try the Cradling Box Drill:

  • Set up 4 cones in a square formation, about 20 yards apart.
  • Begin at one cone, and while cradling the ball, run to the next cone.
  • At each cone, switch hands and reverse your cradling direction (clockwise to counter-clockwise, or vice versa).
  • Continue running and switching at each cone, completing multiple laps of the box.

Partner Cradling Drills

Now, let’s move on to partner cradling drills. These drills will help you improve your cradling skills while under pressure.

Pass and Cradle Drill:

  • Stand about 10 yards apart from your partner.
  • One partner passes the ball to the other.
  • The receiver catches the ball and immediately cradles it while moving, creating separation from an imaginary defender.
  • The receiver then passes the ball back to the initial passer and repeats the process.

Finally, try the Cradle-and-Defend drill:

  • One partner cradles the ball while the other plays defense, trying to knock the ball away.
  • The player cradling the ball should focus on protecting it and maintaining possession under pressure.
  • Switch roles after a minute or so, allowing both partners to practice cradling and defense.

These drills, both solo and with a partner, can help you hone your lacrosse cradling skills. Practice them consistently, and you’ll see improvement in your ability to control and protect the ball on the field. Happy cradling!

Cradling in Different Lacrosse Positions

In lacrosse, cradling is an essential skill for carrying the ball without dropping it while on the move. This skill is crucial for all players, but let’s take a look at how it’s handled specifically in different positions on the field.

Cradling as an Attacker

As an attacker, your cradling technique is crucial for maintaining ball possession and creating scoring opportunities. To effectively cradle the ball, position your dominant hand underhand grip near the top of the shaft. Keep the stick’s opening facing upwards and lift your arm with the top hand to neck height. Make sure to bend your elbow and wrist as the head of the stick reaches head or helmet height. Remember to practice your cradling in various speeds and directions to handle different game situations better.

Cradling as an Attacker

Cradling as a Defenseman

For a defenseman, cradling is essential not only for retaining ball possession but also for transitioning between offense and defense plays. While cradling as a defenseman, use a similar underhand grip and positioning as an attacker. However, there are a few differences to consider:

  • Keep your arm extended and maintain a greater distance between hands on the shaft for better stick control.
  • Utilize body positioning to protect the ball from oncoming offensive players, keeping the ball and your stick away from their reach.

Practice cradling in tight spaces and while backpedaling or changing directions to adapt to the requirements of a defenseman’s position.

Cradling as a Goalkeeper

Goalkeepers are responsible for saving goals, clearing the ball, and initiating counter attacks. As a goalkeeper, your cradling technique is essential for maintaining ball possession after making a save or during a clear attempt. Here are some key points to keep in mind while cradling as a goalkeeper:

  • Focus on a quick and efficient cradling motion to transition from saving a goal to clearing the ball.
  • Utilize a higher grip on your goalie stick to increase control and maneuverability when cradling.
  • Maintain awareness of your position in the crease and keep the stick’s opening protected from opposing attackers.

In conclusion, regardless of your position, mastering cradling is a fundamental aspect of lacrosse. While the basic principles may be similar, slight variations in technique can vastly improve your performance on the field.

Lacrosse Cradling Tips

Cradling is an essential skill in lacrosse that helps you maintain possession of the ball and keep it away from defenders. Here are some friendly and helpful tips to improve your lacrosse cradling technique.

1. Dominant Hand Grip: Focus on strengthening your dominant hand’s grip on the top of the shaft. Use an underhand grip near the top to keep the ball stable in the cradle and be prepared to transition it for protection.

2. Stick Positioning: Find the most comfortable and effective stick position for you. Hold your stick with the top hand pointing towards the sky and the bottom hand pointing towards the floor. The majority of control comes from the top hand, while the bottom hand provides guidance and balance.

3. Hand Positioning: Place your bottom hand near the butt end of the lacrosse shaft. Make sure to wrap your fingers loosely around the bottom of the shaft, as this will help you improve your overall cradling technique.

4. Practice the Motion: Cradling requires a repetitive and fluid motion. Imagine you’re doing curls at the gym, and practice rocking the stick in a smooth back and forth motion. This will help you develop the muscle memory needed for effective cradling during gameplay.

5. Use Different Cradling Techniques: As you become more comfortable with the basics, experiment with various cradling techniques to advance your skills. For example, try switching between the regular cradle and the one-handed cradle or practice cradling while running at different speeds.

Learn more with these 5 tips:

Remember, practice makes perfect, so invest time in honing your lacrosse cradling skills. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to becoming a more dominant and effective player on the lacrosse field. Happy cradling!


Cradling in lacrosse is an essential skill that allows you to maintain control of the ball while running, dodging, or fending off defenders. As you progress in the sport, mastering this technique becomes crucial for your team to maintain possession and ultimately score. Remember that practice is key, and with time, you’ll be able to cradle with ease.

When you’re starting out, focus on the proper grip for your lacrosse stick. Your dominant hand should grip the shaft with your palm facing you, while your non-dominant hand should have an overhand grip, similar to gripping a bicycle handle. This positioning will provide the necessary control for effective cradling.

As you practice, try incorporating drills such as the Traffic Light Game to improve your technique and discipline. This particular drill requires players to move across the field while following the coach’s commands, allowing for a dynamic and engaging way of sharpening your cradling skills.

Mastering cradling in lacrosse takes time and dedication, so be patient with yourself as you improve. As you continue practicing and refining your technique, you’ll find that it becomes more natural and fluid. So, stick with it, and before you know it, you’ll be an expert at cradling in lacrosse, ready to help your team secure those crucial victories on the field.

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