Before you show up to gear up for even a single lacrosse practice you must be in shape for such a demanding sport. Cross training through other sports is an excellent way to stay in shape but a solid lacrosse player must have the endurance of a long distance runner or soccer player, the hitting strength of a football player, and the quick bursts of energy needed by hockey and basketball players. Do not begin these exercises at the maximum recommended level. Start off running shorter distances, fewer sprints, or less reps for strength training. These numbers listed are goals that you should eventually be comfortable and able to achieve. This does not, however, license any player to slack. You need to continually push yourself or you will never meet any goal. Lacrosse can be physically demanding and therefore physical conditioning is required.
Running: Lacrosse was originally played by North American natives that played games that lasted several days with goals a mile or more apart. Though we have obviously shortened both time and distance; running is an inherent requirement of the game. Be sure you stretch first! Many players want to skip this step seeing it as futile and/or boring but it is an essential part of any physical activity. Stretch your muscles from your neck down to your ankles , avoiding bouncing, holding the stretch for a count of 50. As you become more comfortable you should run with your stick in hand and even cradle a ball as you run. A running regiment should include:
- 1 mile running forwards
- ½ mile running backwards (keep your weight forwards, pump arms normally, and kick back your legs so that your toes touch the ground first)
- ½ mile carioca (running sideways crossing 1 foot over the other foot in front and behind)
Sprints: Run the first four of these at a progressively faster speed: ½ speed, ¾ speed, then at full speed again cradling a ball as you run. The second set of three should be run at full speed.
- 1 - 440 yard dash
- 2 - 220 yard dashes
- 3 - 100 yard dashes
- 4 - 50 yard dashes
- 6 - 25 yard dashes
- 8 - 10 yard dashes
- 10 - 5 yard dashes
- Run, Hit & Pop: Run in place, hit ground on your belly, and pop up without going to your knees first. Ten times is one set, do five sets.
- Shuffle Sideways: Keep your shoulders square to the "front" and shuffle five yards right and five yards left alternately. Never cross your feet. Bend at the waist and stay on your toes. Five times both left and right is one set, do five sets.
- Pro-Agility: Start from a centerline. Sprint left five yards, right ten yards, then left five yards returning to where you started. Do five of these.
Strength: This training is in place of weight training. If you choose to do weight training instead please ensure you are properly instructed.
- 25 with fingers pointed forwards
- 25 with fingers pointed outwards
- 25 with fingers pointed inwards
- 25 with fingers pointed forwards but with thumbs touching
100 Sit-ups: Knees bent, hands holding stick behind your head, and raise your head and shoulders 6-12 inches off ground. Do 4 sets of 25.
Three Minutes of Six Inches
- 1 minute (regular) with legs up 6 inches off the ground, legs straight, and toes pointed forwards with hands clasping your stick behind your head
- 1 minute (bicycle) same but alternately draw your knees up one at a time to your chest and snap your knee straightforward.
- 1 minute (open and close) same as regular but now spread legs apart and close them back and forth.
A conditioning plan does not include doing all of these each day. Exercises should be alternated. Best method is to do running one day, strength the next, and quickness the next, alternating with a rest day every seven days (i.e. 1 week, 2 of each with 1 rest day). Conditioning at practice will include portions of each with focuses changing each time. Please remember there are many other activities that are strong conditioning exercises as well if you want a change of pace: swimming, bicycling, hiking, rowing, etc. Also I would recommend jumping rope in groups of 100 reps if you want to increase your quick feet. Of course, keeping your skills as honed as possible is a must. If you have opportunities to throw off of walls or with friends: Do So.
If you are serious about lacrosse you must faithfully devote yourself to conditioning and training. This is a painful program. It is your choice if you will overcome pain or give up. It is your choice if you choose to become a fast, strong, quick lacrosse athlete and turn some heads on the field. This is your choice.