September 4, 2008

Sept. 4, 2008

Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of the June 2008 issue of Lacrosse Magazine, a US Lacrosse publication available exclusively to its members. Join today to start your monthly subscription.

If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at

by Matt DaSilva, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Walk the dog. Carry the pizza. Feed the whip.

Whatever it is you call this one-handed cradle, its function is universal. Lost in translation, Towson women's lacrosse assistants Katie Doolittle (of the U.S. Developmental team) and Sonia Judd (of the Australian national team) land on the term "hot pizza."

Though more common during the no-hard-boundaries era of women's lacrosse, switching from a standard two-handed cradle to a "hot pizza" can still catch a defender off guard in the open field or inside the 12-meter arc. The benefits are three-fold: create separation, increase foot speed (no need to cradle) and get full extension of your wingspan.

So put your stick in one hand, and let your legs do the work.

Make like a banana, and split

Beating one defender up field can be perilous enough, let alone two.

In the following sequence, Judd has already beaten Towson junior Hillary Fratzke to the pitch, but with Doolittle fast approaching.

By transferring to her opposite hand and extending her arm as if she were holding a pizza tray out of the oven, Judd avoids Fratzke's trail check and Doolittle's oncoming check.

Plant off your instep and take your top hand off the stick, keeping it in front of you for protection. Pull and lower your stick so that it sits off your back hip as you seal off the oncoming defender.

Then bring your stick back out in front and turn on the afterburners.

Though your stick may switch horizontally and this can be effective in the open field, this is best utilized as a north-south dodge. Maintain a direct line to the opposing goal.

Get VIP access to the cage

When you hit the 12-meter arc, you might be surprised to find that the same move can provide a point-blank opportunity on the opposing goalie.

If you find that the defense is spread out on the fan, isolate your defender, as Fratzke demonstrates on Doolittle here. As in the previous sequence, bait the oncoming defender to the inside and transfer to your outside hand. Seal her off on your back hip as you hold out the "hot pizza" with one hand to the outside.

Only this time, step back inside and bring your stick with you. Once inside of 8 meters, return your top hand to its position near the top of the shaft, square up to the cage and shoot for the back third of the net.

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