cradling lacrosse ball

Cradling a lacrosse ball is an essential skill used to carry the ball without dropping it while on the move. When players cradle lacrosse balls, they’re securing the ball while in play. 

Cradling puts the ball in a position so it’ll stay in the net of the head of the stick during checks, transitions, and while avoiding opponents when moving down the field. Most turnovers are due to players not knowing how to cradle a lacrosse stick properly, which can result in balls hitting the turf only to be scooped up by the opposition.

  • Hand Positioning: For the best control of a lacrosse cradle, your hands need to be in position to steady balls while they’re cradled. When learning how to hold a lacrosse stick for cradling, your dominant hand should be near the top of the lacrosse shaft and your bottom (non-dominant hand) should be close to the grip on the bottom of the shaft.
  • Non-Dominant Hand Grip: When your hands are in position for an effective lacrosse cradle, a proper grip ensures you know how to cradle in lacrosse. Your non-dominant hand should be an overhand grip, similar to the grip used when holding the handlebars while riding a bicycle. 
  • Dominant Hand Grip: Your top hand is very important to the stability of your lacrosse cradle. You should use an underhand grip near the head of the shaft to steady the cradled ball and be prepared to transition from side to side for protection.
  • Stick Positioning: Once your hands are in the proper position and you’ve learned how to hold a lacrosse stick for a steady cradle, you’ll want to position your stick in a way so that the lacrosse ball stays in the pocket. Your stick should be parallel to your body and be at a 45 to 60 degree angle from the ground. Make sure that the open side of the head pocket is facing forward so the lacrosse ball doesn’t fall out when cradled.

If you’re just learning the game of lacrosse, how to cradle techniques are important for you to master. The above steps describe the most basic method for cradling in lacrosse and are the building blocks for advanced lacrosse cradling techniques. Before you delve into more difficult lacrosse cradling, you should improve on your technique with the following cradling balls tips.

  • Creating a Pocket: Creating the perfect pocket for cradling in lacrosse is key to balancing between a stable pocket and conforming to lacrosse equipment rules. The ideal pocket to cradle lacrosse balls securely should be just deep enough so that the top of the lacrosse ball slightly extends above the rim of the pocket. The pocket depth varies between men’s and women’s lacrosse, so a girl’s lacrosse cradling pocket will be shallow compared to a deeper men’s lacrosse stick pocket.
  • Switching Sides: Always cradling the ball over the same shoulder can result in turnovers if you haven’t learned how to cradle a lacrosse stick in motion while switching sides. To effectively switch sides while cradling a lacrosse ball, start by raising the head as vertical as possible without allowing the cradled lacrosse ball to roll out of the pocket. Keeping your feet wide, swing the head of the stick downwards in a v-shaped motion, making sure the cradling of the ball remains pointed up. While in the upswing, take your bottom hand off the grip and swap positions with your top hand to hold the lacrosse cradle over your opposite shoulder.
  • One-Handed Cradling: One-handed lacrosse cradles allow for faster movement when running down the field to get into position for an attack. When holding the lacrosse stick for a one-handed cradle, you’ll need to get the hang of twisting your wrist slightly to match your stride and ensure the cradled ball is kept secure. While a one-handed cradle is effective for fast movement, the transition to shooting or passing will take more time.
  • Passing & Shooting from a Cradle: Passing and shooting from the lacrosse stick cradle begins with simple continuation of movement of the hands from securing the cradle to shooting or passing the lacrosse ball. Starting by curling the head of the lacrosse stick so it faces your target. Slide your top hand down the shaft as you load up your shot and smoothly whip the head of the stick to pass or shoot.

Why do lacrosse players cradle the ball?

Cradling in lacrosse is necessary to secure the lacrosse ball in the pocket while moving up and down the field. A secure lacrosse cradle also protects when contact is made from body checks or tight defending.

What training tools are there to improve cradling in lacrosse?

Lacrosse cradling practice takes a lot of patience and repetitions. Cradled balls can fall out of the pocket, costing you time to pick them up. Lacrosse training balls on a tether can be attached to the head of a stick to keep the ball with you even if it falls from the lacrosse cradle.

How do you protect the ball in lacrosse?

Learning how to cradle a lacrosse stick is the best way to protect a ball in the pocket. There are a few different lacrosse cradling methods for protecting the lacrosse ball in different game situations.

How do you practice cradling lacrosse?

The best way to practice cradling in lacrosse is to take the time to do it daily. Keep the head of the lacrosse stick up and close to your helmet for proper position and curl the opposite bicep and wrist from the leading foot during each step.


This article was originally published on April 21, 2022, and has been updated with new information.