Whether you're a new lacrosse player or have been playing for years, you're probably familiar with the concept of cradling. Cradling is essential to the game of lacrosse and if you don't cradle, you can either lose the ball or even get called for a penalty.
Cradling is the way that a player carries the ball in his lacrosse stick during any scrimmage or game. Similar to how a basketball player will dribble down the court, a lacrosse player will cradle the ball while on the field. The name comes from the motion of cradling the ball within the stick so it doesn't fall or get knocked out. Cradling is a way to protect the ball and transport it down the field.
Cradling is the safest way to handle the ball and makes it more difficult for an opponent to get possession of the ball.
Place your dominant hand just below the lacrosse stick's head and the other toward the bottom of the stick. This positioning is key to defend the ball from other players. Holding the bottom of the stick with a loose grip allows you to gain more control while cradling, receiving or even throwing the ball.
Before you start moving on the field, move the stick back and forth from left to right. The key is to keep the opening of the pocket toward your body at all times. The closer you keep the stick to your body, the more protected the ball will be. The motion of cradling the ball will help prevent the ball from falling out of the pocket.
The motion of cradling the stick should be all in the wrists. It should feel you're circling or rolling your dominant hand's wrist.
To go from cradling to either making a pass or shot, the player will bring the stick to their dominant side and hold it upright vertically. He should "wind up" the stick by leaning it backward and launching it forward so the ball comes out.
Cradling is also a great way to shield the ball from opposing team members. The constant movement makes it more challenging for the other team to gain possession. Cradle the ball on one side of your body when opponents approach you from the other side. A defensive player can stick check an offensive player, which is the action hitting an opponent's stick to knock the ball out and change possession. This is why shielding the ball is so important. It can prevent turnovers.