Lacrosse is a game of athleticism. The athletes who play lacrosse have to be quick, agile, and powerful. It is a largely anaerobic sport where there are bursts of speed followed by downtime. In order to play this way the athlete has to train this way as well. In the game you need to be able to change directions quickly. Good footwork and flexible hips are important. Speed ladder drills and change of directions skills are excellent for improving these qualities.
Strength is needed in the hamstrings, glutes, core, and forearms in particular. Posterior chain strength is important for sprinting speed. Deadlifts are a great exercise for strengthening these areas. The core and forearms are important to release powerful shots on goal. One of the best exercises to strengthen these muscles is called a farmer’s walks. For an added core challenge perform single arm farmer’s walks.
Power is a combination of strength and speed. In order to change directions on a dime and fire balls into the back of the net you need an explosive and powerful core. Medicine Ball slams and rotational throws are great for building a powerful core.
Training should also depend on what position you play because each position on the field has unique demands.
If you play attack then you need to be quick, powerful, and have the ability to twist and turn in various directions to get off your shots. You also need to have strong legs to sprint at top speeds. The Prowler push is a great exercise to develop this top speed.
Middies need more endurance than anyone else on the field. In order to cover both ends of the field you need the most aerobic capacity of any position on the field. 400-meter repeats are a great drill for midfielders. Run 400 meters or one lap around the track as fast as you can. However long it takes you, rest that same amount and then repeat until your time decreases by more than 10 seconds.
Defenders need to be the strongest on the field. They need a strong upper body to slash opponents to try and loosen the ball. Defenders also have to backpedal quite a bit and open up their hips in order to recover quickly to protect the goal. Sledgehammer swings on a large tire are a great exercise for defenders.
Goalies need excellent hand eye coordination and quick reactions. While they also need strong hands and wrists, the eyes are perhaps the most important muscle a goalie can strengthen.
At our facility in Madison we have a vision coach board. It works on exactly this. It quickens reaction time via neural pathways. We also have Certified Strength and Conditions Specialists who can help you train the way you should for your sport and your position. We can help you reach that next level of performance. Visit www.MyOffSeason.Org for more information.
A strength coach can’t just assign sets and reps to his or her athletes. The coach should also mandate the load as well. Anyone who has coached knows that a good coach can get his or her athletes to overpeform. When left to their own accord athletes might not get that extra push. Everything should be based off of a 1 rep. max and then the coach should assign a percentage of that max. The core exercises can be 1 rep max tested but for the ancillary exercise you can estimate using charts like this.
For the sake of this article let’s say that we are training a High School football team starting in the off-season. You would try to create different workouts based on positions but in a High School that is often tough to do. Players can switch positions quite often and many times their bodies are not developed enough to elicit much change in workouts types. Because you will be spending a lot of time on instruction in a High School setting it might be better off to create a uniform workout with the exception of the upper class-men who are more advanced in their training and have a clear position on the field.
On day number one I would test all my athletes in the squat, bench press, deadlift, and power clean. Of course this all depends on previous experience. If I felt a kid was not properly trained to perform these lifts then other precautions would have to be used. However, for athletic performance let’s assume that the athletes have experience and can safely perform the exercises given. If a kid is underdeveloped but has the lifting background then you could use a 3 rep. max to ensure safety. For example, in a High School setting before an off season program you 1 rep max test the Juniors and Seniors. However the freshman and Sophomores might not be able to handle the heavy loads and they could potentially injure themselves. For the younger kids you would have to separate them into trained and untrained. The untrained kids need to be taught biomechanics while the trained kids can proceed to testing.
The ancillary exercises that I had mentioned might be things like a bent over row or triceps extensions. These exercises don’t need to be tested and can be assigned a number of sets and reps with instructions of when to progress and when to back off. Remembering that not all training is linear. Sometimes a recovery workout is the best workout. If you continually increase the volume from week to week eventually gains will be compromised.
The further out from the season that lighter your 1 Rep max percentage can be. For example if you are in a 8 week macro-cycle and this is week 1 you might start at 60% of that 1 rep max. The athletes should do 10-15 reps with no more than 30 seconds recovery. Building up muscular endurance early on in the off-season will help the athletes to not burn out too quickly. In weeks 3-5 you can increase towards more of a strength workout. In a strength workout you would assign maybe 80-90% of the 1-rep. max. During this phase the athletes might do 6-8 reps for multiple sets with full recovery in between sets. In weeks 5-7 the athlete should adopt a power component to include lower reps. They might do 3-5 reps at 70-80% of the 1 rep. max with again full recovery in between sets. In the last week leading up to the season would be a good week to begin those recovery workouts that I previously mentioned. In this week the athletes would begin to perform their maintenance workouts. The intensity would decrease in order to prepare for the increased time spent with skill work in their respective coaches. This would also be a good time to add plenty of foam rolling and flexibility work to help the body recover fully.
As you can see that 1 rep max determined the loads of the exercises which determined the volume for each athlete. It is a vital factor to improve performance leading up to the season.