Every athlete needs a break to relieve tired muscles, tend to injuries and indulge in some rest and relaxation. Just because it’s the off-season doesn’t mean you should abandon lacrosse altogether. To be in your top form for next season, you need to stay fit during the off-season.
Lacrosse is a high-impact sport that works virtually every muscle in the body. Players need strength and endurance to run up and down the field, to swing a lacrosse stick and to throw and cradle the ball. Frequent workouts help you stay in better lacrosse shape, while improving your cardiovascular fitness, complete-body strength and muscular endurance.
As with any physical conditioning, lacrosse exercises are most effective with a pre-workout stretch session. Stretching helps minimize sprains, strains and spasms and prevents muscles that are too tight and inflexible from tearing. It also helps you obtain a better range of motion, making you more flexible, which in turn makes you a better lacrosse player.
It’s common to see players run the length of a lacrosse field — measuring 60 yards wide and 100 yards long — in a matter of seconds. Running is a necessary skill for lacrosse players to achieve optimal success. Running builds cardiovascular endurance, strengthens the heart muscle, and efficiently pumps blood throughout your body. It conditions the lungs giving you the stamina to make it through a full game without tiring. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as swimming or brisk walking, or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise, such as running, is required to maintain good physical fitness. Aerobic exercise should be spread throughout the week and sessions should be at least 10 minutes (or more) in length.
Upper-body strength is vital for lacrosse players to strategically maneuver lacrosse sticks, catch balls and maintain control as they run down the field. Lower-body strength helps you run faster and for longer distances at full power and speed. Basic lacrosse exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, shoulder presses, bench presses, and bench dips work the muscles throughout the arms, chest, and upper back. Alternate your upper-body workouts and lower-body exercises, including lunges and squats, which work the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, lower back and gluteal muscles. Strength training is needed three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes.
Interval training involves alternating periods of work and rest. For example, interval sprint training requires the player to run 30 seconds, then sprint 10 seconds, and then run another 30 seconds. This would give a sprint recovery ratio of 3:1, which is ideal for conditioning a lacrosse player. Lacrosse drills should involve custom interval training sessions that can continually be modified based on your current level of fitness. For other types of interval lacrosse drills, set up stations around a sports court to improve your strength in a variety of exercises. For example, stations can include push-ups, side shuffles between two cones, squats, lateral hops, planks and then a resting station. Stay at each station for 15 to 30 seconds before moving on to the next.
Being in good shape for the upcoming lacrosse season is critical if you want to reach your goals. It takes at least two months to fully prepare for a season, and staying in shape requires more than just running and weight training. While preparing yourself for the rigors of a long, grinding lacrosse season involves plenty of hard work, it will all be worth the challenge when you’re in top shape during the season.