When you watch a game of professional basketball you see players do some amazing things and you want to be like them. You want to nail that flying dunk from 10 feet out. You want to spin away from your opponents and sink a solid jumping shot.
But truth be told, not everyone can do that. For the average guy at the local playground court, it’s an impossibility. It’s just not in his wheelhouse.
The same can be said for those of us picking up hurling.
We can watch YouTube videos of top matches with players who dedicate their lives to the game and pick up unrealistic expectations — or even worse, lazy habits.
I was reminded of one of my lazy habits and unrealistic expectations at a recent practice.
“Keep both you hands on the hurley. You aren’t playing for Tipp,” he said, referring to the County Tipperary team, one of the best groups of hurlers in the world.
The frank comparison was referring to my repeated efforts to scoop up a grounded sliotar with my hurley. Instead of keeping one hand at the bas (the hitting end) and one on the handle, I kept on trying to manipulate the hurley with just my “handle hand.”
The top-level players can do one-handed pick-ups in their sleep. They have the muscle memory to do it right. I do not.
Instead, what I need to do — and what nearly every hurling player needs to do — is manipulate the hurley with two hands and not try to show off.
Once they’ve played at Tipp’s levels for a season or two, the coaches will lay off, until then it’s “two hands on the hurley unless one of is holding the ball.”
Some key points to remember:
- CONTROL THE ACTION: If you don’t have two hands on the hurley, the hurley is naturally harder to control — it can go wild. That means that when you take a one-handed whack at the ball, you’re never sure where it’s going. That same reasoning can be applied to a one-handed ground-ball pick-up: Without that extra control, it might roll off unexpectedly or pop up out away from your ball hand. Keeping both hands on the hurley lets you adjust quicker and maintain control.
- CLOSE TO THE ACTION: If you don’t have both hands on the hurley, you have to be deadly accurate with your pop-up to your hand. Instead, keep your non-dominant hand on the bas of the hurley when you’re picking up ground balls. This lets you transfer it quickly and smoothly to that hand — the same hand that is now just inches away from the ball and ready to grab it.
- CUT TO THE ACTION: It’s important to remember that the ball just has to be off the ground to grab it — there’s no exact measure, just “off the ground.” That means that as soon as your hurley is between the ball and the pitch, you can take it into your hand. That’s a perfect reason to do ground ball pick-ups with two hands. You can literally cut out the entire “popping up” action if you’re willing to bend over and grab the ball.