September 4, 2008

Sept. 4, 2008

Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of the February 2008 issue of Lacrosse Magazine, a US Lacrosse publication available exclusively to its members. Join today to start your monthly subscription.

If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at mdasilva@uslacrosse.org.


by Rashad Devoe, Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

I have had the privilege to work with elite-level lacrosse athletes, male and female, for over 10 years, and throughout this time I have had the ability to try different modes of training. Some worked out well, while others just did not make sense for lacrosse players.

One of the best types of training that we use at Devoe Human Performance every day is boxing.

Boxing, you ask? Are you serious? How the heck can this help me become a better lacrosse player?

Well, it's not so much the boxing as it is the training boxers utilize. Introductory training for boxers consists learning how to hit a heavy bag, speed bag and double-end bag and can evolve into shadowboxing in front of a mirror and sparring. That's not to mention skipping rope, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, back pull-ups and jogging -- all methods that will serve a lacrosse player well even if he or she never steps inside a ring.

Boxing training addresses:

• Balance
• Reaction
• Agility
• Acceleration
• Deceleration

Balance: Boxing uses the basic athletic stance. Balance allows you to transfer power throughout the entire kinetic chain (like transferring weight from your back leg for shooting).

Reaction: The faster and more accurate your reaction time becomes, the quicker you can perform a function. Not only does boxing improve hand-eye coordination, but also total body capability.

Agility: Boxing training helps create the conditional movement, meaning you are in position to move in any direction at any time (think change-of-direction dodge), not to mention the footwork involved.

Acceleration: Boxing training provides movement acceleration through the transverse plane. Think of the movement needed to take shot.

Deceleration: Deceleration is the least trained component of speed and agility training. Speed work in boxing emphasizes the eccentric component of boxing training.

Boxing training takes into account the total body movement, from the ground through a punch or extension of the limb, and emphasizes control.

The reaction component is important in boxing, as it teaches the body to be able to move quickly.

This allows for faster first steps, or being quicker to a loose ball. The best part of this type of training is that it recreates the energy system needed for lacrosse conditioning and simulates the sport's metabolic needs.

Boxing can:

• teach proper weight transfer and rotational mechanics.
• provide reaction training, hand-eye coordination.
• teach how to use opponents' momentum against them.
• add innovative cross-training modality.

Start with the basic punches -- jab, hook, cross and uppercut -- with no movement. Then add movement to the sagittal plane -- an imaginary plane that travels from the top to bottom of the body, dividing it into left and right portions -- both forward and backwards. Then add a target for increased reaction time.

Once a target is mastered, add rotational movement, changing directions and hastening the pace.

Goalies, This Means You

Once the basics are learned, all drills should be done at full speed. This allows you to work on balance, reaction and acceleration.

When working with heavy bags or mitts, use them as targets. Do not strike with full power. You are working on quickness, not being a power-hitting boxer. Make fast, light contact and return to a balanced position.

Finally, this training is for all lacrosse players, male and female. Goalies, in particular, can benefit from the footwork and reaction. If you are not doing boxing training, I suggest you add it to your training routine at least twice a week.

More Cross-Training Techniques

Tired of the wall? Trainer Rashad Devoe of Devoe Human Performance advocates the following activities to strengthen your abilities in lacrosse.

Basketball

Emphasize fundamentals with pick-and-roll, spin move (roll dodge), crossover dribble (split dodge), stutter steps, drop steps and reverse points; jumping for rebounds offers a plyometric simulation of a defensive slide.

Tag

Get old school. Grab the neighborhood kids and play tag. If you break it down, you're really working on planting and cutting, balance and deceleration, and even a hesitation dodge.

Relay Races

Same idea, only set up an obstacle course and time participants for competition.

Jungle Gym

Forget traditional gym workouts. Have you ever done a playground workout? Try doing a set of 15 pull-ups on the monkey bars, then superset by climbing across them. Also, try doing push-ups on a pair of unstable swings. Pretty intense.

Handball

OK, this requires a wall, but bring a friend and racquetball, instead. Handball covers hand-eye coordination, trunk rotation, footwork, reaction time and agility.
Rashad Devoe is a longtime personal trainer who has worked with several lacrosse clubs, including the NLL's Rochester Knighthawks. He is the president of Devoe Human Performance, a lacrosse-specific training company. For more information, visit www.devoehp.com.
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