The short answer to that question is anything they could do with a rubber lacrosse ball, with the exception of bouncing it (which may help protect your TV and other valuable items in the house)!
However, digging a little deeper, Swax Lax balls were developed with the intent to teach new players how to cradle and catch. They help teach players to develop the proper muscle memory, allowing them to be more efficient in their movements. Over time we have come up with lots and lots of other uses, but cradling and catching were the real inspiration for Swax Lax balls. Today we are going to do a deep dive into cradling.
Cool Cats Cradle with a Swax Lax Ball
Cradling is the finger, wrist, elbow, and shoulder movements that create centripetal force on a ball, forcing it into the stringing of a lacrosse stick — similar to swinging a bucket of water over your head. If you swing it fast enough, the weight of the water will exert force on the bottom of the bucket, keeping the water from spilling. Same concept applies to lacrosse balls in a lacrosse stick. This is why we can keep the ball in the stick while the stick is in a vertical position.
Swax Lax balls are ideal for practicing cradling because they are the same weight as a regulation lacrosse ball. This means you have to exert the same amount of force to cradle a Swax Lax ball as you would a regulation lacrosse ball.
Sorry if the science there scared anybody. I’ll try to avoid it moving forward.
For new players, cradling is all about keeping the ball in their stick. For more advanced players, it involves manipulating the ball in the pocket of the stick so they can pass, shoot, or dodge more efficiently. Proper cradling is learned by cradling — a lot.
Proper cradling techniques
Keep the stick as vertical as possible. Bottom hand is relaxed, it’s just a placeholder. The top hand is right below the head of the stick, and the bottom hand is right above the butt of the stick (same for boys and girls).
All these joints are involved. Palm in, palm out. Stick close to the body. Fluid movement.
Common mistakes or corrections:
- Stick is horizontal at hip level. Easy target for defenders and difficult to pass, shoot, or dodge. Keep stick head up.
- Bottom hand is too tight or is doing all the work. Loosen up.
- Stick is held out, away from the body. It’s a little counter intuitive, but players’ sticks are better protected the closer they are to their body.
- Cradling too hard. Be efficient, just enough to control the ball in the pocket.
- Players can start cradling standing still in front of the TV. Turn on SpongeBob or Star Wars, whatever is age appropriate, and cradle for 22 minutes. But eventually players want to take it on the road. Start walking and then move on to running. When players think they have it mastered, switch hands. That will humble them enough to keep practicing.
Cradling is a vital skill for a lacrosse player, but it takes practice. Swax Lax balls are the size and weight of a regulation lacrosse ball and gives players the proper stick feel. They also are softer and don’t bounce like rubber lacrosse balls, allowing for quicker recovery from drops and mistakes. Have your child use her Swax Lax ball to improve her cradling. This is the foundation of all lacrosse stick skills. Controlling the ball in her pocket will improve her passing, shooting, and dodging.
Next time I will talk about how that ball got into your child’s stick so he could cradle it. Catch you later (that’s a hint in case you weren’t paying attention).