Throughout my entire lacrosse career, coaches constantly told me to “hit the wall.” When my dad coached my youth teams, he told me and my teammates at almost every practice: “The way you get good at this game is by throwing against a wall.”
Only after I reached the Division I level of college lacrosse did I realize that all coaches who know anything about the game preach the same message. Hit the wall. You might find this advice too simple. But it is so unbelievably useful and true. The more time you spend playing wallball, the better the lacrosse player you’ll become.
In eighth grade, I attended a summer lacrosse camp called the Top 205 Lacrosse Camp. At camp, several college coaches spoke about the college lacrosse recruiting process. One of the coaches stood up in front of the entire camp. It was Bill Tierney, a living lacrosse legend. He won six National Championships at Princeton, and has since built a national powerhouse at Denver University. Coach Tierney shared one piece of advice that has stuck with me since. “If you hit the wall every day, for at least an hour,” he said, “I guarantee that you will have the opportunity to play Division I Lacrosse someday.”
I was only in middle school at the time, but I took Coach Tierney’s advice to heart. I wanted very badly to play Division I Lacrosse someday. So I took time each day to throw the lacrosse ball against my garage door (sorry, Mom). I found a solid brick wall near my middle school, and played against it after the final bell. I carried my stick wherever I went, hoping to find a wall where I could improve my game.
When I made the high school team, I remember hitting the wall near our locker room before practice. I then went on to play at Harvard University. More than ever, the wall became part of my day-to-day routine.
I played wallball in college all the time. I practiced fundamental throws, and improved my ability to guide imperfect passes into my stick. I also worked on skills I would never dare attempt in a practice or a game. Left handed side-arm passes. Behind-the-back catches. No-lookers. I worked to master them all.
The time I spent on the wall made me realize just how essential wallball is to an individual lacrosse player’s game. On the wall, players develop skilled hand-eye coordination, pinpoint accuracy, and the necessary confidence to become successful on the field. More than anything, wallballers bond with their lacrosse sticks. But wallball represents much more than the practical benefits it produces. It represents what lacrosse is all about.
During my junior year of college, I was beginning to lose the spark of passion I always felt for lacrosse. It was the dead of winter in New England, my team was getting run into the ground by daily practices and workouts, and worst of all, none of our collective hard work was paying off. We were losing games. We were emotionally deflated. Practices didn’t help our spirits much. Every practice was designed exactly the same. The season was becoming monotonous and dreadful.
In the midst of the gloom, the wall became a haven for me. I would seek the wall whenever I could, as it reminded me why I love the game of lacrosse. On the wall, I was free from the added pressure of our practices and from the perfection our coaches demanded. The wall symbolized the creativity and intuition that makes lacrosse such a great game.
The Concept of Project Soft Hands
One day when I was throwing against the wall, the concept of Project Soft Hands suddenly emerged. I created a video of myself playing wallball--throwing creative passes and making difficult catches. I showed the video to my friends and teammates. I posted it to social media. I began making more videos, and got my friends and teammates involved. I called the movement “Project Soft Hands.”
Beyond just wallball and lacrosse, there are several endeavors in life that advise you to keep “soft hands.” The term is mostly used in athletics. An athlete with particularly smooth, quick, or dexterous hands is said to possess soft hands. Swift hand-eye coordination – demonstrated by throwing, shooting, hitting, or (especially) catching – allows an athlete to stun fellow players and audiences.
But the term is used elsewhere, too. Don’t slam your fingers on the piano keys; play them fluently. Don’t hack at the strings of a guitar; strum them with smooth, agile, gentle hands.
The softest hands are crafty and inventive, and grace the extremities of athletes, musicians, artists, chefs, and coordinated individuals of any endeavor.
Partnership with Boathouse
We have recently partnered with Boathouse to design and build functional outerwear for our customers. We plan to roll out several new products, including t-shirts, hoodies, hats, jackets, and more, in 2019.
We promote the talent of those who demonstrate soft hands by accepting and post creative content to our social media platforms. By embodying creativity, we encourage others to pursue their creative passions.
Please continue to share the creativity of your soft hands with us by sending content to @projectsofthands on Instagram.
With the expertise and apparel of Boathouse, we are excited to continue building the Project Soft Hands brand, and creating quality products in 2019. We seek to represent those who share our core value: to celebrate creativity across all endeavors that require soft hands.
About Jake Scott
Jake attended Conestoga High School in Pennsylvania, where he was four-year Varsity Letter winner and US Lacrosse Academic All-American. As a senior, he was class president and captain of the lacrosse team, leading the team to win back-to-back state championships.
Jake graduated from Harvard University, where he played as an attackman on the varsity lacrosse team, and is currently faculty and coach of the Varsity Lacrosse team at Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland.
Related Boathouse Lacrosse Articles:
Conducted by father/son lacrosse enthusiasts, Jake and Peter Scott, the Boathouse Lacrosse Training Series is intended to educate lacrosse players of all ages in the strategic technique necessary to enhance their skills and win games. READ MORE
The "Find Your Wall" Lacrosse Challenge is a collaboration between Project Soft Hands Lacrosse and Boathouse that encourages young lacrosse players to find "their" wall and practice wallball. The more time you play wallball, the better the lacrosse player you’ll become – which is what makes this activity a core fundamental to improving lacrosse skills of all levels. READ MORE