Keys To A Lacrosse Strength and Conditioning Program
Contrary to popular belief, taking one thousand shots will not increase the velocity of your shot.
Of course playing lacrosse will make you better, but it won’t necessarily get you to your goals in the most efficient way possible.
So how do you work on your performance without playing lacrosse?
I’m glad you asked.
The answer is simple, workout!
Strength and conditioning for lacrosse is a perfect supplement that can greatly increase your capabilities on the field. If your goal is to boost top-end speed on a clear, swiftness on a split dodge, or prevent being bodied off a ground ball, then strength and conditioning is the answer.
Going to your local “box gym” to bench and do curls is not the best workout for lacrosse players. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of those exercises, but a big chest and arms never got anyone anywhere on the lacrosse field. A well-organized sport specific program is the best way an athlete can enhance their performance on the field through strength and conditioning.
Movement take priority. This means if you are not confident in performing a squat, deadlift, push-up, or any other movement, seeking the help of a professional is the right choice. Many times athletes attempt to workout on their own, but do not have the requisite movement patterns to perform the exercises they are performing.
Four keys to a lacrosse specific strength program are detailed below.
Three Planes of Motion
Lacrosse is played in all three planes of motion: sagittal (forward and backward), frontal (side-to-side), and transverse plane (rotation). The sagittal plane accounts for movements like sprinting and backpedaling. The frontal plane accounts for movements like shuffling and cutting side-to-side. Lastly, the transverse plane accounts for movements like shooting and roll dodging.
Due to a lot of strength exercises being done in the sagittal plane, like squats and deadlifts, it is important to make sure you are training the other two planes to satisfy all of the sport’s needs.
Here are examples of frontal and transverse plane strength exercises.
Frontal Plane Exercises
Lateral Sled Drags
Transverse Plane Exercises
Rotational Landmine Press
Rotational Med Ball Throws
Other than focusing on top-end speed (sagittal plane), we also need to make sure the agility aspect of the game is covered in our training. Changing direction quickly and under control is what separates athletes. Again, we need to train this in all three planes of motion.
Here are examples of frontal and transverse plane agility exercises.
Frontal Plane Drills
Transverse Plane Drills
Pro Agility (5-10-5)
For more information on training all three planes of motion, follow this link.
Let’s not forget about speed!
Training acceleration and top-end speed are two aspects of the game every athlete loves to work on.
Besides working on strength, which is important for improving speed, an athlete needs to work on speed drills that will get them fast.
Wall Work: Simply, put your hands on the wall and walk your feet back so your body is at 45 degree angle. Then, staying up on your toes on one foot, raise the opposite leg until the knee is lined up with the hip. From here you can perform isometric holds, pistons, rapid switches (running), or many other drills.
Sled: Forward sled push is a great exercise that puts you in a forward lean position - similar to accelerating in a sprint. I love the sled because you can increase how far you push it or increase the amount of weight you are using. The sled is easy to manipulate and fun for the athletes.
Sprint!: There are endless drills to work on accelerating and top-end speed. You can do push-up sprints, mountain climber sprints, 10 yard flys, and many others. Make it fun and transferable to the field.
Energy system Training
Being able to play the whole game without sucking wind for four quarters is important. In lacrosse, athletes need to have the endurance to run up and down the field, sprint as fast as possible to get back on a fast break, and the explosiveness to make a hard cut to the net.
Working on all three parts of your energy system is crucial as a lacrosse player. We have the aerobic, anaerobic lactic, and anaerobic alactic systems. Commonly, aerobic is used for an activity lasting 2 or more minutes, anaerobic lactic is used for activity lasting 15-120 seconds, and anaerobic alactic is used for activity lasting less than 15 seconds. All of which play a role in the game. Obviously each position needs to focus on certain aspects of their game more than others, but generally speaking, all lacrosse players need to work on all three.
Examples of each in lacrosse...
Aerobic: Constantly moving on the field
Anaerobic Lactic: Sprinting back and forth on transition
Anaerobic Alactic: Dodging hard and shooting
Mobility exercises should be something an athlete does every single day. Keeping your muscles and joints feeling good is just as important as strength training.
Mobility training is different for each athlete. If you are on the more flexible side, you will need more stability exercises. For example, if you can put your leg behind your head, you probably don’t need to be yanking on your leg with a stretching band.
On the flip side, if you are an athlete that is “stiff as a board”, you probably would benefit from passive stretching to increase the range of motion of your tissues.
If you want to learn more about which exercises would be best for your needs, click this link.
Just to recap: The biggest takeaways from this article are:
Get a Strength Coach
Work in all three planes of motion with your strength and agility work
Train acceleration and top-end speed
Mobilize every day
Feel free to let me know what you think about strength and conditioning for lacrosse players. Kindly, leave your comments below and we can chat about it!