IL Instructional Archive: Advanced Feeding Tips
Monday July 23rd, 2012 4:28pm
As part of a new series, Inside Lacrosse is scouring its archives to bring you years worth of instructional tips that you may have missed. Below, Matthew Sacco gets the feed from Conor Gill on how to master the the art of being a playmaker. This article was also complemented by a feature entitled Visionary, which captured the attitude you must have to become a great feeder, and first appeared in the August 2004 Issue.
Becoming an elite feeder is all about cutting out the middle man. Receiving the ball, going to the goal, field location, throwing a feed—these are all places where you can cut down on wasted movement and, in turn, sharpen the feeding aspect of your game.
But keep in mind that many of the techniques we are about to discuss are advanced. You should already be extremely comfortable with your stick skills and knowledge of the game. These are not things you should be doing if you’re just learning how to feed, as they might not please many youth coaches.But if you’re entering a higher level of lacrosse—college or upper-echelon high school—and the game is going to speed up for you, these are some things that will help you keep up.
Receiving the Pass
I was always taught that you when you receive the ball behind the net from the wing, you catch with the corresponding hand, then switch and go the other way with the ball. In other words, if the ball is coming from your left side, catch with your left, then switch to your right.
That is the technically sound way, the way that won’t get you in trouble. But if you want to cut down on wasted movement, you can move a little deeper behind the net, let the pass come across your face and catch it with your right hand. Doing this allows you to immediately rip off a pass to the crease, or go to the goal. It is also nearly a full second quicker than switching hands. And as you will find out, that second can mean an awful lot.
When feeding at a high level, that second can mean the difference between somebody being open on the crease and that same guy being completely shut off. More importantly, it can mean the difference between a goal and a turnover.
Split Dodge From X
One of the most important moves in a feeder’s arsenal is the split dodge from behind the net. Most players will use this move to dodge and feed from the wing, but there are ways to make it a much more dangerous move.
First off, you should obviously be extremely comfortable with split dodging and carrying and throwing with both hands. That should pretty much go without saying.
1. The first thing you need to do after the split dodge from X is assess the situation. As you’re heading full speed to one side of the goal, you need to be aware of everything that is going on.
You need to have answers to all of the following questions: Do I have a step on my man? Should I go to the goal? Who is open? Who is going to be open?
2. The next thing to remember is that, as a feeder, you must maintain an ability to go to the goal. You have to always be a threat. After you dodge, whether you plan on going to the goal or not, you have to look like you’re going to the goal so the goalie has to hug the post and the defense has to think about sliding.
If you do have a step on your man, your first option is a crease drive. But let’s say the defenseman is staying with you. While you’re carrying the ball to the wing, you want to be assessing the position of the other five offensive players on the field. You’re not so much concerned with where they are now but where they are going to be. Because once you get to goalline extended, you’re going to roll back toward X and that’s when you’re going to look to feed.
3. Most players will simply feed right when they get to goalline extended. But by rolling back, you hold yourself out in numerous ways. First off, you protect your stick. By turning yourself away from your defender, you can shield against a takeaway check while also giving yourself separation to feed.
You’re also giving yourself a better angle from which to feed and in turn making it easier for the receiver to catch and shoot.
4. But for that half-second when you’re rolling back, you’re also taking your eyes off the play. That’s why assessing the situation before you make the dodge is so important. Because when you come out of that roll, you want to have a picture in your mind of where everybody is so you can rip off a pass almost instantly.
So not only are you creating time and space with the dodge, you are also cutting down on wasted time because you already know where everybody is going to be.
It’s a very advanced way to look at the game and it takes a lot of experience to master. But hey, nobody said feeding was easy. If it was easy, everybody would do it.
Proper Way to Pass
Throwing a pass in lacrosse is just like throwing a football or baseball. Without the proper technique, you increase the chance of an inaccurate throw. Except in baseball or football, oftentimes the receiver can adjust to a poorly thrown ball. In lacrosse you don’t always have that luxury.
That makes it even more important to develop good habits. The most common mistake I see nowadays is players throwing off their back foot. When feeding, your legs are just as important as your arms. And by throwing off your back foot you remove any balance you may have and force your arms to throw from a position that isn’t natural.
You want to step into a pass just like a quarterback would in football. But remember, the most important thing in feeding is throwing a catchable ball. So while you want to use your legs to generate power behind the pass, you don’t want to throw it too hard.
Remember also that throwing off your back foot can be a subconscious thing. Most of the time it comes from seeing a guy open and wanting to get the pass off as quickly as possible. But once you take off-balance passes out of your game entirely, your anticipation and field vision will adjust naturally.
Location, Location, Location
In feeding, where you are is just as important as how you throw the pass. If you look at the crease from above and then draw two more creases offset behind the net (diagram below) that will give you two hot zones to work from. Those areas should really become subconsciously ingrained in your mind as optimal places to feed from.
If you’re anywhere outside those zones, there will be some major obstacles to overcome. For instance, standing too close to the endline is the Cardinal sin of feeding. Not only are you giving yourself an extremely long pass to throw—over 20 yards if you’re just throwing it to the crease—but you’re giving your defender an extra advantage by pinning yourself against the out-of-bounds line.
Keep in mind that just because your primarily role is as a feeder doesn’t take away your job of always being a threat to score. This means keeping yourself in a position where the defense has to worry about you going to the goal—or distributing the ball.
If you’re not a threat to score then the defense doesn’t have to worry about sliding, and the goalie can play the pass. But if you’re a threat to beat your defender, the goalie will have to hug the post, the defense will have to think about sliding and more passing lanes will open up.