Shooting Well In Lacrosse: Keys For Success

The lacrosse shot is a wildly varied thing. Over the course of a single game, players might be required to take shots ranging from 10 - 40 feet out. Sometimes these shots will happen while standing still. Other times, the player will be running. Some shots happen immediately after a pass. Others do not. 

The combination of these elements is what elevates great lacrosse shooting to an artform. In order to become an effective and complete shooter, players need to develop a variety of tools for all of these game situations.

Shot Basics

No matter what the circumstances of the shot are, a few fundamental traits come into play. These traits include:

  • Hand placement--You'll want to keep your bottom hand tight on the bottom of the stick. Your top hand can be placed where it is comfortable. However, if your top hand is too close to the stick head, you will compromise speed.
  • Shot disguise--The more effectively you can use your body to mask your shot, the higher your success rate will be. That means you'll want to keep your hands back and behind your head at the beginning of the shot. 
  • Stance and momentum--Even though you won't always be in a position to strike the perfect stance, you'll want to lead with your off-hand side. You'll also want to be moving forward to promote hip turn, if possible.

When practicing these elements, you'll want to incorporate both stationary and moving shots into your routine. You might find that hand placement changes depending on your intended outcome, or that you have difficulty disguising your shot when moving to a specific side. Targeted practice with equipment from sites like will allow you to compensate for these issues in a game.

Shot Plane

There are a number of planes your shot can follow--each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The plane you select is a function of comfort, but also utility. Since certain shot situations will require specific alterations, you should become comfortable will all of these.

Full Overhead--This is a shot where the stick is held completely upright and over the player's head. Typically, these shots are able to generate the most velocity, due to the downward wrist snap and arc length. However, lateral placement is limited to the direction of the stick head.

3/4 Overhead--This shot combines a great deal of the power found with the full overhead shot with the ability to move the shot laterally. These shots can be placed both laterally and vertically, providing the most accurate and disguised shot. Unfortunately, these shots are difficult to make in traffic.

Sidearm--Sidearm shots are easy to place from left to right--making them a great option for shots on the run or in close proximity to the goalie. These are also utilized heavily when fielding an errant pass.

1/4 Underhand--Typically only used after recovering a rolling or bouncing pass, underhand shots rely on accuracy only to pass the goalie. Their strength lies in the quick release time and precise positioning.

Complete shooters understand that matching the proper shot to the current situation is the key to success. Basically, you'll need to look at these different shot plane options as tools. Sometimes, a shot requires velocity to work--in other situations, accuracy is the prime component. However, if you haven't practiced all of these movements in a practice situation, you won't be able to rely on them in a game.

By incorporating all of these elements into your practices, you will develop the skills required to be an effective shooter. However, don't be discouraged if you aren't scoring as much as you'd like. Even the best lacrosse shooters tend to score under 50% of the time. Stick with it, practice a variety of shots, and you'll begin to score more often over time.