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Stick Tech Workshop - ReADeR TIPS!

Reader Questions Answered
November, 2000

The opinions expressed and recommendations in Stick Science are those of the individual writers and readers and in no way represent endorsement or suggestions from E-Lacrosse. Many of the reader tips and stick science columns call for use of various items that could be dangerous if used improperly. Ovens, Microwave ovens, knives, scissors, lighters and other potentially dangerous tools used in stick baking, dying and stringing should always be used very carefully and with a parent's permission.

My friends and I have become interested in lacrosse all of a sudden. We've seen it on ESPN once or twice and it looks like a blast. Unfortunately in our hometown of Garland, Texas, lacrosse is not a big thing so we're having trouble getting started. No one really knows how to play and we don't really know anyone that plays, so how can we get started. We don't intend to play in a league, we just want to have fun and stay in shape. If you can offer any tips on how to get started, they would be greatly appreciated.
Get some tapes and books to learn how and just play! USLacrosse sells copies of the 1998 World Games Final. This is a great game to learn from. There are many books for sale in the E-Lacrosse Book Store that teach the game. Be sure to get Bob Scott's or Dave Urick's book. They are great! Don't worry about having enough guys or having real goals. We used to play two on two with trash can goals and we lived in Lacrosse rich Baltimore County. Invent games that make you improve stick and throwing skills. Get a rulebook from an online retailer and try to keep your games within the general rules of lacrosse. Play your two on two or three on three games where other kids can see you and you might find your numbers growing too. The game is contagious. Casey Powell was the first kid in his town to play. He and his Brother recruited a coach and started the local program because they just wanted to play! The world is smaller than it looks to you right now, too. You'll all go off to college one day and have the opportunity to play club lacrosse.

I am 15 years of age and I am interested in starting a sport and lacrosse came to mind. I know this is a very late age to start a sport but do you think I would have a chance in being able to play? - Mandi
You are the perfect age to start playing. If you are a good athlete already, you'll pick the game up quickly. You should just concentrate on throwing, catching and scooping skills so your athleticism can shine through. If your not very athletic, still practice the skills often, but also be the person hustling the hardest for the ball in practices and lacrosse will get you in shape quickly. You may not start the first year, but you will catch up fast with hard work in practice and lots of wall drills or games of catch in your free time. Check out the E-Lacrosse Girls' Lax Guide for tips and some playing lessons. We could still see you on a college lacrosse field in a few years if that's where you want to be and you work that hard.

Hey E-Lacrosse! First off, your site is a monster. Keep it up. I'm a freshman at Deerfield High School in Illinois and I playing indoor lacrosse right now. As all of you know, Christmas is approaching and I am starting to make a list of items that will further milk my parents of cash. Lax equipment will, of course, be a priority. I have a Brine M1 with a Brine F10 Shaft from when I first started playing. I was interested in getting a new stick for Xmas, but was wondering which I should look at. People have told me everything from the Brine Edge, Warrior Revolution and Evolution, to STX Proton and Octane. I also was wondering what kind of shaft I should get. I've heard that the Kryptolytes are good, but I don't have enough money to just waste it.
All shafts in each price range are about the same weight and, if you don't play Defense, any one of them will probably last a few years. Pick the one you like or that friends have recommended. The heads you mentioned are all hot sellers, with the Proton and Edge leading that pack. Also check out the Cyber from Brine, X2 from STX and Phantom from deBeer. You could also ask for an E-Lacrosse fleece Columbia vest or logo-top bucket hat! Bookmark the E-Lacrosse store for your parents!

I see alot of lax companies that can do alot of different dye jobs, such as punch out's, confetti, drip, letter's, logo's, and on and on. My question is how do they get the material to do logos and some of the cool cutouts like 2-color letters. - Devin
Two color letters are easily created. Place the stick-on letter stickers you buy at hardware or office supply stores where you want them on the stick. Then cut half of the letter off neatly with an Exacto knife or razor blade. Save the half you removed. Dye the stick a light color and then, after drying, replace the half letter so that the entire sticker is in tact. Use a hair dyer to make it stick better and get a seal going. Dye the stick again in a darker color and you're done. Stickers are often a good source of images. You need good silhouette images for effective dying. In the 80's kids all had those Grateful Dead teddy bear stickers. They'd cut them out and put them across the top of their head and then dye the head. Dancing bear sticks were cool. Just like a Pearl Jam or No Fear stick might be appealing today. You can also take any decal, trace a picture from a magazine or something onto it, and then cut it out with scissors or the Exacto knife. Always ask your parents before you take the exacto knife and attempt this on the dining room table or living room couch.

I'm new to this awesome game of lacrosse but too old for camps (24) and was wondering about different throwing styles. In one of your Stick Techs you mentioned a "box-like" throwing style. What's that? What are some good, solid fundamentals of throwing that I could practice to improve passing, etc.?
Box players have less horizontal room to move around in. So sidearm and underhand shots and passes are less prevalent. If you do wall drills with straight overhand passes with both hands and get your throws hard and accurate while learning to also catch anywhere and get to the overhand throwing position, you will be a better player for it. There are rare opportunities to wind up and let it rip and you can take those, but the best players always use time a room to get a better shot by running more instead of using the space for a cool looking wind up. A young player learning this will play more in games and impress more coaches. You will also notice behind the back shots and passes occurring quite often in box. The fundamentals of behind the back throwing are closely related to those of overhand skills. In fact, they come easy to most pure overhand players.

On the subject of adult camps, E-Lacrosse is entertaining the idea of hosting an adult camp in the summer for a weekend at a boarding college or fields near a hotel. It would be a basic lacrosse skills and strategies camp for adult players. Men's and Women's adult camps are each possible if the interest is strong. We will run a survey soon to determine interest but anyone who already knows they would attend should e-mail us now and let us know.
  1. We are a first-year program in an area of New Jersey that is lax deficient. If you were coaching first time players in this situation, how would you begin?

  2. Hello, I first want to tell you that you have a great and informative website. I am involved in starting a girls youth lacrosse program ages 8 to 11. I am wondering if you have any suggestions regarding how much they should learn at this age. What kinds of drills are appropriate, how much excercise can they handle, warmup-cooldown. It is a 7 week program and I need to make basically a handbook of practices for the coaches. I am responsible for writing a practice schedule that the coaches can follow. And while I do know the sport I don't have any experience coaching. Any suggestions would really be helpful to me.

  3. Do you believe a zone defense is too complicated for an average high school team. With all the slides and back side protection it can become confusing against a motion offense. If not, what are some ways to teach and develop a good zone. I am a coach for a high school team who has two strong wing defenders and a physical and aggressive crease man, all of whom are quick enough for multiple slides.

All three of these questions require responses far more detailed than we can fit on this page. And we get many questions just like these. So, we are going to institute a new program at E-Lacrosse called the E-Lacrosse Mentors. We will be designing an area of E-Lacrosse where coaches and post-collegiate players on the east coast can become mentors via telephone and e-mail to new programs in the west and anywhere in the world really. Mentors and programs in need of advice will be able to sign up in the new section, but also at the 2001 Coaches' Convention in Philadelphia this January. If you'd like to sign up now to receive or give mentoring send an e-mail to us and we'll start trying to match you up with others who have responded. Include your name, program or team, location and general problems if you are in need of a mentor. Include your name, experience and specialties if you are offering mentorship. We envision the commitment to be less than an hour a week, just helping coaches teach the game and assisting league directors in getting started. Lacrosse knowledge you take for granted will prove very valuable to others. The game needs you more that you could know. There are kids that actually want to play lax and cannot because the adults in their area have no idea where to start or what to do.

Now in my post-collegiate lax playing days and firmly into my coaching days, I have just begun to enjoy the fun of stick dying and stringing and found some suggestions to be true: hard water will royally taint a carefully planned dye job, and graduated shooting strings are essential. I do have concerns relating to comments in your articles. I've gotten a hint of dislike for offset heads, when they're all the rage at every level. I'll never play without one again. I also have gotten the hint that you think titanium to be overrated. Again, I've found the opposite to be true. Especially for a long stick like myself, titanium is the only way to go. Finally, I love soft mesh (contrary to stick tech comments)! So my message to all those amateurs like myself: mix and match and find what's most comfortable for you. - Rhino from Phoenix, AZ
We have always said that players' tastes and styles differ and they should try equipment that belongs to their friends before laying out the cash. So we agree there. You have, in fact, detected more than a hint of dislike for offset heads, because they are not an improvement on anyone's game. They give the impression of greater top-weight and control while cradling or faking while they have actually taken passing and shooting skills to a new low nationwide.

Princeton's Bill Tierney banned offset heads one year because his world class athletes were slinging balls 20 feet away from the cage and had lost their ability to shoot on the run. If everyone has them as you say, then all is even. But a smart young player might get the non-offset and be a better player by the time they get to High School. Habits die hard and offset heads create very bad habits in most cases.

On the topic of Titanium shafts, we do not have a disagreement when talking about an adult player who has 200 dollars for a defensive pole. However, no kid should ever be told that a titanium shaft is necessary to compete.

There are materials that are lighter and stronger than titanium. It's just that they would drive the cost of a shaft over $1,000. Does that sound ridiculous? And yet some players would buy them. And, soon enough, kids would be pressured into needing one to keep up with those who have them already. The ads selling titanium created a new outlet for elitist peer pressure in a game that needs to go the opposite direction to succeed. The ad below, run in Lacrosse Magazine in 1998 is a good example of this. How many potential lacrosse parents are put off by the sentiment behind the slogan "The MEANS to dominate" in the manufacturer's ads. Means equals money. And how much money you have doesn't make you a better player. We'd like to think that a player who worked hard and mastered the skills would have a chance to dominate, as well, without coughing up major coin.

The Titanium shaft was the least creative, most detrimental invention our sport has experienced. It took an expensive sport and made it more so. Escalation of materials in lightness, strength and cost is NOT innovation. You can't have it both ways. We can either grow the sport OR the entry cost but not both.

I play for Lane Tech High School in Illinois. I'm the most experienced player on this very young team. This year I am the team captain. Can I be expected to carry a team and ISO all the time. I play non-stop in 10 degree weather, so I can get better, but no one is that good. What advice can you give me. - Brandon
Yes, you can be expected to carry the team, but not necessarily by taking the ball on isolation plays every time. If you are the leader of the team, the play of the other members of your team is partially your responsibility. Paul Gait insists that when he has to score 8 goals in a game, whatever team he's on will likely lose the game. Lacrosse is too team oriented to get away with having only one scoring threat. You need to find the other scorers and make sure that they are ready to put the ball in the net. If you end up getting five assists and only a goal or two per game, your team will succeed and you'll be a great captain.

The big question I have is about stick spinning. That is just turning over the stick with a flick of your off hand. I spin too much and I've wondered if it was a bad habit? When I tried to stop I found that I couldn't and that it was almost addictive. I have found a place for a spin in every cradle or shot and I want to know if it's bringing my game down? - Tommy
Yes, it is. Habitual spinning is a bad habit for a few reasons. If you only feel comfortable doing stick motions with a spin in them, you will miss split second opportunities, spinning as your cutter comes and goes. Also, you have placed spins into the routine of your play. A defenseman will learn to read that in about ten minutes and dominate you for the remainder of the game. Spins are cool to put here and there for faking the start of a drive to the goal or while cradling to make sure the ball is centered in the pocket. But besides the fundamentals of lacrosse, all habits will eventually work against you and your element of surprise.

I have the STX fusion gloves and not that big of a hand. Should my gloves fit snugly to my hand or do I want them fairly loose? I can cradle well without my gloes but when I put them on I can't cradle without the ball flying out. Should I buy smaller gloves? - Daniel
You are not alone. If you just need another size glove, you'll know if you try friends' gloves of differing sizes or just try some on in a store and handle some sticks with them on while there. If your gloves are too small or too big, it could effect your play as you describe, BUT that may not be it at all.

Most kids toss the gloves in a closet when the season ends and throw around with friends all off-season without them. They often develop really good stickwork without gloves on and then when they have to go back to the gloves, they stink royally. The cold harsh reality is that we play this game with gloves on. PRACTICE WITH THEM ON TOO! Without gloves, the talent level of every player increases greatly. Some of the best toss around guys we know are terrible in a game. Gloves, arm pads and helmets change the way we see and feel things when playing, so get used to them and be consistent. It doesn't mean you shouldn't throw around ever without them, but at least take them to the beach with you for the summer. You know you won't use them at all if they sit in your gym locker or your closet at home. Young kids who lug them along and use them to throw all the time will be the best players at that age.

This is not to say that gloves are all the same, because they certainly are not. Some are stiff and hard and some are soft and supple. You have to try many on and hold sticks in them at the store. You'll know what's comfortable without being too loose. Whatever you do, never buy a glove on hype without trying them on or giving a friend's pair a try. Some of the worst lacrosse products have the best ads.

Thanks for all your questions? Keep them coming and we'll do a Q&A session every few months! Send them to john@tonabricks.com!

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