Sept. 11, 2007
Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of Lacrosse magazine in April 2006. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at email@example.com.
by Jay Dyer, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online
A common error athletes make is assuming "going out for a run" will get them in shape for the upcoming season. This thought usually goes hand-in-hand with "two weeks until tryouts, I better start getting in shape."
Although going for your 3-4 mile run is better than doing nothing, that isn't saying much. Training for your sport(s) should be done throughout the year. Also, if you are a speed/power athlete (if you play lacrosse, that is what you are), the last thing you should be doing two weeks before tryouts is running distance.
Lacrosse is described as the fastest sport on two feet. To keep it that way, the athletes that play the game need to train properly. It's a common belief that you are born either with or without speed, which is true to an extent. What is missing from this general statement is through proper training you can maximize your speed potential.
Also, understand that speed endurance is just as important as speed. A lacrosse player's success or failure is not dependant on one bout of speed, but rather the ability to produce speed for the entire game.
A combination of different exercises will help you improve both your speed and speed endurance. To concentrate on speed development, one exercise you can do is resisted sprints. Using a harness with bungee cords (while these implements are not perfect in their design, they are relatively easy to find and do provide some benefit), or a weighted sled, do repeated bouts of 20-40 yard sprints.
The distance depends on how long you can maintain a high level of speed; you should not do 40-yard sprints if you are struggling to maintain speed. The goal of this type of training is achieved in the quality of each repetition, meaning you need to take adequate rest between each rep. To develop speed endurance, your workouts should consist of exercises like shuttle runs and repeat sprints.
Strength training should be done throughout the year (this also means lifting while your sport is in season). Developing strength in your glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, abdominals and low back muscles can only improve your speed.
Athletes need to prioritize their lifting program and do the lifts that will benefit them in their sport first and the lifts that help them look good on the beach second. A well-rounded strength-training program that emphasizes development of the core (muscles that go from the base of the sternum to the top of the knee, front and back) leads to a stronger, faster and quicker athlete.
Jay Dyer is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with Union Memorial Sports Medicine and strength and conditioning coach for the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse team.