Cradling Drill #1: “Stationary/Dynamic” Cradling
- Have players/goalies stand (with nobody else within arm’s length) as a group, holding the stick on whatever side of their body feels most comfortable, with a ball in their stick.
- *Variation #1 (1 min): "Stationary Cradling." From a stationary position, have players practice the two-handed cradling technique, as described in the Cradling Skills Analysis.
- *Variation #2 (2 min): "Dynamic Cradling." Line players up across from each other and have them take turns cradling around their partner (both directions - left & right), advancing to removing a ball from one partner and after cradling around them, rolling them a loose ball. Alternatively, players can be made to jog from one end of the floor and back (keep your "head up").
*Variation #3: "Scrambled Eggs." Create a designated area using pylons, appropriate to the size of the group you are working with. Have all players weave around each other at a walking speed (in the crease with the net removed), at jogging speed (between the rag-lines at centre-floor) and/or at running speed (between the goal-line & the rag line); depending on numbers (Variation #4A - 2 min).
Emphasize players keeping their body between other players and the ball (i.e. protect or “hide” the ball), utilizing proper cradling technique. Once the players get the hang of the technique coaches can casually try to dislodge the ball from players who don't have it protected, otherwise pushing them on their hips in order to throw off their centre-of-gravity (Variation #4B - 2 min).
This drill can also be done as a game whereby if a player drops their ball or gets knocked out, they must go out of the designated area and wait until the next game.
*Variation #4 (2 min): "Partner Ball Protection." Have players partner up (1 ball between the two), with one player trying to get the ball off of the other player, who is stationary and trying to use their body/stick position to "protect the ball." Alternate roles after one minute.
Variation #5 (5 min): "One-Handed." Teach the "one-handed" cradling technique in a subsequent practice, again using variations #1 to #4 for practice. Have players also practice switching the stick from one hand to the other ("split dodge") during variations #1 to #4.
Coaches should circulate around the group and give each player positive reinforcement based on the Skill Analysis, as well as an area in need of improvement. Finish positive.
*Most Common Error = Bottom Hand Cradling