Sept. 7, 2007
Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of Lacrosse magazine in October/November 2006. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Rashad Devoe, Special to Lacrosse Magazine
Lacrosse has always been a game of speed and agility. When I began training professional lacrosse athletes over 10 years ago, a player with a 4.8-4.9 40-yard dash time had blazing speed. Now, the players are getting to the 4.5-4.7 range.
But does a 4.7 40-yard dash time help you beat the double team, or help you set up your roll dodge? No. That is why training for specific lacrosse movements is needed.
We split up lacrosse speed and agility into two categories: straight-ahead speed and small-area quickness.
In order to be an effective lacrosse player you must be able to transition straight-ahead speed and small-area quickness quickly. Transition is a key term that we use and we hammer it home to all of our athletes. Smooth transitions equal quicker movements.
In order to get into the exercises we must first define straight-ahead speed, which is starting speed, acceleration, top speed and deceleration to a space on the field.
We define small-area quickness as any half-field or "tight" defended area that requires quick movements to navigate.
Now that the vocabulary lesson is out of the way, let's look at five exercises that will help you with your straight-ahead speed and small-area quickness.
It's the most basic of drills but the most important and sometimes difficult to master. The lean-fall-run puts your body in perfect position to generate explosive speed and power. The lean-fall-run puts you in position for what we call triple extension of the ankle, knee and hip. Once you are in this proper alignment, you generate more power to help with acceleration.
To start the lean-fall-run, begin on your toes with your body nice and straight. Then lean forward until you feel like you are going to fall flat on your face. At the last second, extend and plant your foot and drive into a sprint. Notice the posture of the athletes in the first picture as they lean forward. They are not bending at the hips, which is a common mistake. As you look at the athletes in the second photo, notice how far the plant leg is from the starting postion. They are now in perfect triple extension form.
Begin the Lean-Fall-Run by leaning your body straight forward, then extend a plant foot and explode into a sprint.
Scramble Out with Loose Balls
To perform this drill, place lacrosse balls at 10 yards, 20 yards and 30 yards. Lie on your stomach with lacrosse stick in hand.
On command, "power up" and sprint to the first ball and scoop it up. Quickly drop it, sprint to the second ball and pick it up. Quickly drop it, sprint to the third ball and pick it up.
This exercise trains acceleration and deceleration. We like to call deceleration "breakdown." The exercise helps you to break down, pick up a loose ball and then re-accelerate quicker. This will help you handle loose balls much more effectively.
Four Cones Drill
This is a relatively easy drill, but you must focus on your footwork and "smooth transition."
Place four cones in a square formation about 17 feet apart.
Work any four movements you want for each section. For example: side shuffle to the first cone, back peddle to the second cone, sprint to the third cone and carioca to the fourth.
You can do any movement you want -- let your imagination be your guide. Just make sure you focus on the transition of your feet to the proper position during each phase. This drill is important for lacrosse players because lacrosse is a game that always changes direction. In order to be quicker to a ball, smooth transitions are a must.
Sprint to Back Peddle with Directional Changes
This is one of my favorite exercises. It literally keeps you on your toes and ready to change direction.
1) Lean-Fall-Run for 10 yards.
2) After 10 yards, transition into a "good position" back peddle.
3) A coach or partner will then point in which direction they want you to go.
4) If they point left or right, you defensive slide in that direction.
5) If they point towards you, you change direction and back peddle.
6) If they point towards themselves, you change direction and sprint forward.
Keep this up for 30 seconds.
This drill forces you to stay on the balls of your feet in order to help you generate power to change direction. It also works on maintaining "core" stability -- this will allow you to change direction quicker. If you are able to balance, stabilize and change direction quicker than your opponent, you will be faster to the cage.
We like to call these "K-squared." To perform this drill, all you need is some imagination. Take 10 cones and place them in positions that are game-specific but make you plant and cut at odd times. Make sure you put some long spaces and short spaces to help alter with your stride. This drill will force you to pick your feet up, accelerate, break down and more. When you get more advanced, work on setting up your dodges when you get to each cone.
These are some of the drills we use at Devoe Human Performance. We hope you will take these ideas and incorporate them in your own workouts. To check out video clips of these drills visit at www.devoehp.com/video-clips.html.
Now get to work!