All About Lacrosse Cradling Rules: Best Guide for All Players! (2023 Update)

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If you're a lacrosse player, or just beginning to get into the game, knowing the ins and outs of lacrosse cradling rules is essential. After all, being able to properly cradle your stick allows for smoother transitions between movements.

This guide outlines the basic principles behind proper cradling technique as well as recent updates to rules surrounding it in time for the 2023 season!


Take away key points:

  • Lacrosse cradling rules are crucial for mastering the skills and becoming s dominant player on the field
  • The rules will help your team maintain ball possession, and create more scoring opportunities
  • There are various tips to practice the techniques and advance your performance

If you want to know more about lacrosse cradling rules, techniques, and proper positions, please refer to the guide below. You will learn the fundamentals, and take your game to the next level.

What is cradling in lacrosse?

Cradling in lacrosse is a way of moving the ball with a stick by rocking the handle of your lacrosse stick from side to side, promoting an up-and-down movement. The cradling lacrosse movement allows the pocket on your head to keep the ball in place and the best control of the possession. Cradling is the safest way to protect the possession of the ball, move it down the field, and keep the opponents away.

It is also important for changing direction quickly and controlling your movements on the field, which can be essential for catching and shooting.

You must practice cradling to become your second nature without having to think about it; once mastered, it can be an indispensable tool during play.

There are certain techniques associated with cradling that all players should develop: keeping arms straight, maintaining shoulder width apart, making sure hands stay at the top of your handle, and keeping the butt end of your stick close to your body. These techniques help ensure that you can maintain control of the ball while cradling properly.

How to Cradle a Lacrosse Ball

Gripping the lacrosse stick properly

To hold your lacrosse stick properly, lacrosse players should place their dominant hand below the head of the lacrosse stick. The non-dominant hand should be your bottom hand, put towards the bottom of the lacrosse stick.

For the non-dominant hand grip, your non-dominant hand should be an overhand grip. For the dominant-hand grip, you should use an underhand grip to cradle the ball for switching sides and keep the ball until passing, or shooting the ball to score goals.

Once you're holding the stick properly with both hands, place the stick near your body, to cradle the ball and make it stay in the pocket without any ejection from the pocket. Make your stick parallel to your body, between forty-five and sixty degrees from the ground. Ensure the open side of the stick pocket faces forward so as not to lose the ball while cradling.

This positioning is crucial to carry the ball ad protect it from an opposing player or players. Holding the bottom of your lacrosse stick with a loose grip will allow lacrosse players to gain more control while cradling, throwing, or receiving the ball.

How to practice cradling lacrosse techniques?

Before lacrosse players start moving on the lacrosse field, they should move the stick left and right, back and forth. Players should keep the pocket of the stick toward their body at all times. The closer the stick is to the body, the better technique and protection from the opponents they will achieve. And the movement of cradling the lacrosse ball will prevent the ball from falling out from the stick.

The movement of cradling the lacrosse ball and the stick should be mainly in your wrists. It should be as if you were circling or rolling the wrist of your dominant hand.

To cradle the ball first, and then shoot or pass the lacrosse ball to your team members requires a specific technique. To cradle the ball correctly, lacrosse players, should bring the stick and hold it upright vertically. Players should wind up their sticks by leaning them backward and launching them forward sot the lacrosse ball can come out.

Shielding the lacrosse ball

Shielding the possession during the game is also an excellent method to protect and carry the ball from the opponent's stick. The opposing player closest to you - the defender will try to body-check or stick-check you to gain possession, but your continual action forward will prevent other players from jeopardizing the ball possession.

You should cradle the ball inside your stick pocket on one side if the opponent approaches you from the other side. Then you can try switching hands and deceive defenders, as they will try body check or stick check to eject the ball possession from your stick pocket. But you can save the ball and prevent turnovers.

Can you cradle a ground ball?

Cradling a ground ball in lacrosse is a key skill that all players need to master if they want to be successful. It requires not only skill and knowledge of the game, but also agility and quick reflexes.

Players must use their stick to scoop the ground ball away from the opponent's stick while keeping their body balanced and agile enough to react quickly so that they maintain possession of the ball. It is a difficult feat of hand-eye coordination, something players work hard to perfect.

During play, strategic positioning between the offensive player and the opponent can influence who comes out on top when cradling for control of the ground ball in men's lacrosse. By mastering this valuable skill, both offensive and defensive players set themselves up for success in every game.

Can you perform one-handed cradling?

You can perform one-handed cradling and master the technique. Once you gain possession, you will use your forearm, wrist, and arm nearby your body.

You cannot use another hand to smack or push the defenders while cradling one-handed before passing or shooting. Instead, you will move the stick back and forth, left and right but not in a high arc away from your body.

Switching sides and using both your non-dominant and dominant hand helps you deceive defenders, cradle the ball better, and help your team create more shooting opportunities. You will hold the stick below the head and pocket first on one side, then on another one to prevent body checks and penalties for a better pass or shot.

Is cradling allowed in women's lacrosse?

Cradling is allowed in the women's game similar to the men's game. To cradle, players hold the stick with one hand and use the other to move quickly along the shaft of the stick, pushing and pulling it closer to the body. This motion creates a centrifugal force that keeps the ball stable in the pocket of the head of the stick even while running at full speed.

It is important to use your dominant arm for cradling so that you can be most comfortable with controlling and playing with the ball. Having quick hands is also essential for creating an effective cradle as you must be able to move swiftly yet accurately along the shaft of your stick to be successful. Cradling is crucial in women's version of the game as they use a shallower pocket than the men's version.

When is cradling an illegal technique?

An illegal cradle technique complies with the illegal cradle rule for middle school and high school play.

The illegal cradle method prohibits defenders from checking a stick when a cradle is within twelve inches of a player's head.

Lacrosse cradling tips

Lacrosse cradling tips

Before you dive into mastering the lacrosse cradling technique, you should refer to some basic cradling tips, to enhance the basics, and then move on to the advanced methods. Let's see the basic tips:

- Making an ideal pocket: An ideal pocket is a critical factor for keeping the ball inside the sticks and confirming the specific lacrosse rules. The pocket should be deep enough to keep the ball inside, but not too deep so as not to break the rules. The top of the ball should slightly exceed the rim of the pocket. But, men's and women's games use different pockets, and girls have shallower pockets.

- Switching sides: If you don't switch sides while cradling the ball, might result in a turnover, so you should keep the ball stable in the pocket and keep the stick vertical. Keep your feet wide and make the V-shaped motions to make the stick stable. Place the top hand to hold the cradle while using the bottom hand off the grip to swap positions.

- Shooting and passing from the cradle: After catching the ball, you can pass or shoot. You can start by curling the head to face your target. Next, slide the top hand down the lacrosse shaft while loading up the shot and smoothly whip the lacrosse head to either shoot or pass.

- Ensure smooth movements: Your wrist should be fluid since exaggerating might cause the ball to fly from the lacrosse stick, and you might affect the performance of your team.


What is an illegal cradle in lacrosse?

An illegal cradle rule includes prohibiting a player from checking the opponent's crosse when he is cradling the ball twelve inches near his head.

Is it required to cradle in lacrosse?

No, you are not required to cradle the ball in lacrosse. However, the technique is beneficial as there won't be body or stick checks, and defenders cannot endanger your position and performance when moving forward toward the goal or team members.

Why do you have to cradle the ball in lacrosse?

By cradling your team maintains possession of the ball and creates the opportunity to score goals.

How do you teach lacrosse cradling?

The best methods include the following:

- Practice cradling the lacrosse ball vertically

- Cradle the possession near your helmet and head

- Cradle the ball on the side contrary to your opponent

- Cradle one-handed to protect the ball better

What are 3 tips for cradling in lacrosse?

The three tips include the following:

- Keeping your elbow bent

- Ensuring the stick's face faces your chest all the time

- Flexing the wrists to keep the ball inside the pocket

How to get better at cradling in lacrosse?

To get better at cradling, you can perform the following methods:

- Run down the field with two-handed cradling

- Create the right pocket

- Switch hands while cradling

- Practice one-handed cradle

- Practice passing and shooting techniques

Which technique would be the best for cradling in lacrosse?

The best technique would be to switch hands and keep the stick vertically.


Cradling in lacrosse helps your team maintain ball possession and create more scoring opportunities. You should practice the method to advance your game. Once you do, nothing will stop you from becoming an advanced lacrosse player!

Freddy Woods

Freddy is the heart and soul of Lacrosse Runner. As a former athlete, Freddy is very passionate about Lacrosse. He keeps up with the sport's changes and innovations and often tests the new equipment released by the leading manufacturers. Read more here