The ability to pick up a ground ball is just as important as as throwing, catching, and cradling. Ground balls means more possession for your team. Everything else becomes irrelevant if your team can not get a ground ball. Your effort on ground balls will show that you are doing whatever it takes to win games.
Before there is effort there is strong fundamentals. Form is very important, a few simple things can allow you to snatch up GBs from players that do not use popper technique.
- Scoop 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 rolling away from defenders who will be looking to throw hard checks immediately after you pick the ball up.
- Spread out your hands on the stick.
- 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.
- 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.
- Low man wins. Bend at the knees as low as possible. This will give you a much stronger base in case of impact.
- Box out the other player 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. This will also help you to keep the ball in your sights as you engage contact.
- If you are behind an opponent focus on his back hand. Poke and lift his back hand. This should knock his stick off course and make him overrun the ball. Do not push him from behind.