Paying attention to your fundamentals is the best way to ensure that you scoop up all the loose balls and give your team valuable possession opportunities. Form is very important when the ball hits the ground, as a few simple things can allow you to snatch up GBs that lazier players will not get to.
Your hands should be as spread out on the stick as possible. With your dominant hand at the top of the shaft, and your off-hand at the bottom, grip the stick tightly when readying to pick up the ball. It won’t always be practical to have your hands spread all the way apart on the stick, but if you can help it, try to maintain that spacing.
As for the feet, try to keep them moving, and plant your front foot next to the ball when starting your scooping motion. This will provide you with something of a guide for your stick to go directly to the ball, and can also shield the ball from being scooped from the side by an opponent.
With your upper body, the first rule of thumb on GBs is that the lowest man usually wins the battle for the ball. It’s okay to take your time and worry about getting lower than someone else fighting you for the ball. Bend at the knees and waist, and get your torso over the ball, trying to be as low as possible.
Angle of the Stick
Next, you’ll want to focus on the angle of your stick as you approach the ball. Do your best to get your stick as low and as close to parallel to the ground as possible when scooping the ball. If you approach the ball with your stick head pointing more towards the ground (closer to perpendicular), the odds are good that the head of the stick will catch on the ground and you will miss the ball entirely.
Getting underneath the ball is the most important aspect of your stick positioning on the approach. Scoop all the way through the ball, and bring the stick up towards your chest without trapping the ball. All the while, you should be moving your feet and getting away from defenders who will be looking to throw hard checks immediately after you pick the ball up.
Tips and Tricks
While the fundamentals always come first, there are a few tricks that every laxer should know when picking up GBs. Although your coach may typically yell at you for raking the ball, sometimes a rake is the best way to secure the ball in the midst of a crowd. If you can get down low enough, and get the head of the stick over the ball, you can trap it for a few seconds until an opportunity to rake it into your pocket presents itself.
Just be sure to stay low to avoid body checks and keep your body over the ball while you wait for your opportunity to get it into the stick. Another sneaky trick you can do is to box out an opponent going for a one-on-one ground ball against you. Get low and literally stick your rear end out into the other guy going for the ball. You can pivot around on one foot using your butt to keep the opponent a healthy distance away from the ball as you allow yourself space and time to scoop up the ball.
If you find yourself closely trailing behind an opponent who is ready to scoop up a ball, focus on his back hand. As he gets ready to scoop the ball, apply a hard poke or slap check to his back hand. This should knock his stick off course and make him overrun the ball. You should immediately look to get low and scoop the ball, and protect your stick from the nearby opponent