Play the Ground Game with Jesse Bernhardt


Jesse Bernhardt brushed up on ground balls in backyard battles with his brother and fellow MLL player, Jake Bernhardt.

Growing up, Chesapeake Bayhawks defenseman and U.S. team hopeful Jesse Bernhardt just wanted to play lacrosse against his brother. Since Jake Bernhardt played with a short stick, it only made sense for Jesse to pick up a long pole and face his brother one-on-one.

These backyard battles helped Jesse Bernhardt develop into one of the best long poles in the world — and his brother Jake Bernhardt, the Ohio Machine midfielder, a great player in his own right. 

Ultimately, it helped Jesse Bernhardt master the art of the ground ball. It sounds easy, but using a long pole always makes for a unique experience. Still, Jesse Bernhardt loves his role.

“It’s just nice to have that extra couple of feet to take advantage of while you’re playing defense and picking up the ball off the ground,” he said. “It kind of makes you a threat everywhere you go on the field.”

The Pick-Up

• Survey the ball to see how fast or slow it’s going. Get your body around a faster moving ball and attack a slower moving one.

• With a long pole, choking up is important if you’re in a tighter space. Keep hands in front of the numbers on your jersey so they aren’t exposed to defender.

• Attack the ball and give it a small wrist curl to settle it in the stick.

• Follow through with your feet. Bring your head up and survey the field for your next move.

This article appeared in the January edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

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