Every player and coach knows that speed kills. It’s an advantage that every player wants. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion when it comes to improving lacrosse speed.
The first thing required to improve lacrosse speed is to understand it will take specific work. Improving speed is not just practicing. It’s not running repeat wind-sprints and conditioning.
Speed development is the product of both technical work and improving power.
Technical work often looks like track drills to many people. With good reason. Track is the expression of pure speed. And while we don’t need our lacrosse players to have the technical mechanics of a track athlete, there’s still a lot of benefit from this type of drill.
Teaching the athlete how to move efficiently and effectively for speed is the starting point. After all, speed is the product of Newton’s Laws of Motion and applies to every sport. Physics doesn’t care whether it’s lacrosse or track.
The fundamentals of acceleration and max velocity sprinting apply to lacrosse.
Physics tell us that the amount of force applied relative to bodyweight is a key factor in speed. While sprinting, that force has to be applied to the ground in a very short time. Ground contacts range from ~ 250 ms accelerating down to less than 100 ms when at full speed.
Generating large forces in a small time is called power. To be fast a lacrosse player needs to be able to generate power in their lower body to project their body.
This means developing that power through progressive overload. A developing lacrosse player can apply progressive load through strength training, medicine ball throws, plyometrics, and explosive lifting.
If a lacrosse player doesn’t have much experience with this type of training, the general rule is to use a wide range of methods to develop different types of strength and power needed.
Speed Training Is Not Conditioning
Many players and coaches see speed training as sprinting. While sprinting is a necessary part of speed training, just doing repeat sprints is not speed training.
When performing repeated sprints to improve fitness, the player builds fatigue on each one. In fact that’s the very stimulus that leads to improved conditioning.
However, running fatigued leads to changed coordination and force application. The speeds end up too slow, and the technique too sloppy to improve a players speed abilities.
Conditioning has a critical place, but it’s not part of improving lacrosse speed. A player has to maximize that ability first, before they can condition to use it repeatedly. Otherwise, the player is just conditioning to be able to run slow repeatedly.
Lacrosse Game Speed
So with the understanding that lacrosse players need to take specific action, what should they do? The answer comes from considering both how we improve seed and whats need for lacrosse.
Speed for a track sprinter is simple. Run as fast as possible and turn left. It’s not so simple for a lacrosse player.
Improving lacrosse speed is a process of developing the actual type of speed needed in a game.
When we break down lacrosse, we can identify some priorities;
- Dodging (Agility)
- Curved runs
Acceleration In Lacrosse
Acceleration is the process of increasing speed. Whether from standing, our of a dodge, or while already moving, acceleration occurs when the player tries to explosively increase there speed.
Acceleration mechanics are different than full speed mechanics. It involves longer contact times and more emphasis on horizontal power. The mechanics are more of a “punch and drive” action than cyclical.
Dodges in lacrosse are critical to creating opportunities to attack and score. Dodging is a combination of agility and acceleration. Agility is the capability to change the direction with body control and balance.
So when it comes to improving a player’s dodging, we can improve the components so that when it’s practice time, they can improve the skill. Improving the ability to stop or changing direction fast, and then reaccelerate in a new direction will help a lacrosse player improving their dodges.
When trying to get toward the goal, lacrosse players rarely have a straight line. Opposing players block the path necessitating runs that are often curved. The attacker has to try to get ahead while running on a curve.
Curved running ability relies on the same basics of linear speed, but with some key differences. The biggest difference is the body lean and the crossover action of the legs. Using some drills that train this will make players more efficient in their curved runs.
Improving Lacrosse Speed
Drill 1: Bulgarian Split Squat
This exercise will help build a foundation of strength in the lower body. Lacrosse players need strength to apply braking forces when dodging and propulsive forces when accelerating.
The kettlebell version of this exercise is a great place to start. It reinforces proper posture while developing the single leg strength every lacrosse player needs.
Drill 2: Crossover Bounds
To build power and work on the crossover mechanics needed in curved runs, this drill works well. Players will develop power by applying a big force to the ground in a small time. Plus, they work on the trail leg crossing the midline of the body and pushing backwards.
Drill 3: Sled Bound To Run
A key factor in acceleration is getting the right alignment of the body to apply forces horizontally. The resistance of the sled requires the athletes to get into the right position to be successful. Using punch and drive mechanics to develop force will transfer to any instance of acceleration on the lacrosse field.
Improving Speed Gives You An Advantage
Every player wants to be fast, but not every player works specifically on improving lacrosse speed.
Use these drills and get focused on improving your athletic speed, so you can be faster in lacrosse.