Kyle Hartzell plays as if his long pole is an extension of his body, but it wasn’t always that way. Hartzell played attack throughout high school and offensive midfield in junior college before switching to long-stick midfield. He offers four tips on how to use the long pole.

Safe to say his transition has gone smoothly.

Photo by Tony Morano

1. Choke Up

“I play pretty choked up on my stick all the time, so it’s kind of like I have a short stick,” Hartzell said. “Some of the best guys, they hoke up on the stick and they turn into an offensive threat with it.”

Because he chokes up, catching and throwing aren’t all that different from playing with a short stick.

2. Cover Your Rear End

That said, Hartzell recommended using the entire length of your stick in certain situations when the ball is on the ground.

“If I’m in traffic and there’s a ton of other guys around, I want to protect my butt end,” he said. “My bottom hand is lower on the stick and bringing that in closer to my body to protect it.”

3. Get Your Reps In

To prepare for any situation, Hartzell recommended that anyone picking up a pole for the first time spend hours on the wall. Because you have to control an extra two feet of stick, putting in the work playing wall ball is key.

4. Master Your Stance

Finally, Hartzell said to always work on your stance.

“You’re playing defense, too,” he said, “so you need to work on your stance, keeping the stick six feet out in front of you.”

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 print edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, an exclusive benefit for US Lacrosse members. We appreciate the support of our nonprofit organization through these challenging times by a making a donation or joining/renewing your membership with US Lacrosse. We look forward to continuing to share new and useful resources with the lacrosse community.