The Importance Of Groundballs
At the end of the day, goals are what win you games — that seems pretty simple, right? However, there are hundreds of factors that go into each and every goal. You’ve got key passes, hits, and unforced errors on top of hustle, determination, and excelling at the smallest of details that lead to goal scoring opportunities. If that sounds a little complicated, that’s because it is — watch the game closely next time, and you’ll understand. Players never get the ball and score and uncontested goals, that just doesn’t happen. Each goal is a result of the tiny things going right, even if you don’t realize it.
One of those small details that are ever-so-important? Groundballs. Lacrosse coaches can’t stress enough that consistently winning groundballs will win lacrosse games. Picking up groundballs allows your team to have possession of the ball and ultimately create more scoring chances. Remember, if they don’t have the ball, they can’t score! Learning and harnessing the power of the groundball is key for any high aspiring team.
This is the simplest, yet most important reason that groundballs are so vital. The team that picks up more groundballs will have the ball more, duh. More possession time means your team has more opportunities to score. And, again, if the other team doesn’t have the ball, they can’t score. The famous phrase says that a good defense is a good offense — but it can still work the other way as well. The longer you’re on offense, the longer they’re chasing you on defense. The longer you’re on offense, you’re directly enhancing your chances of scoring and lowering theirs — it’s all a game of math and percentages! Think about ground balls like rebounds in basketball — the team that rebounds on both ends will probably get the most baskets. Not always, but most of the time. More ground balls, more possession, more opportunities to score: it’s that simple.
Even when the scoreline is bleak, winning a groundball can be small victory because they help redirect the energy of a game. It hardly matters if you’re winning, losing, or tied, snagging a groundball instantly pushes the momentum back towards you. If you want to stop a team from going on a run, don’t let them pick the ball up — this goes back to the importance of possession. Momentum follows the team that has the ball more, so win the groundball battle and you’ll have the advantage. Grab a few groundballs here and there to help chip away at an opposing team’s lead, then, all of sudden, you’re outworking them on every possession and creating opportunities from nothing. Then, they’ll be sweating and you’ll be cool, calm, and collected as the momentum turns your side of the field.
(Related: read about the stick checking rule in the woman’s game here.)
The ability to get ground balls consistently will not only help your team win, but it will also help you see more playing time. Every lacrosse coach appreciates a gritty player willing to take a hit to scoop up a groundball. The best part about groundballs? It doesn’t take any skill to pick one up! You don’t have to have the best stick skills, or the best shot — you just have to be tough and determined. It sounds silly, but if you can pick up the ball at a reliable rate, you’ll play. Obviously, what you do with the ball after picking it up is important, but winning the groundball battle is the first step towards succeeding in a game. Don’t be afraid to get into a scrum or fight for a ball, that passion will get you more field time and inspire your teammates!