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Lacrosse Specific Training, Series 1

By: Steve Yahns, MS, CSCS, NASM-PESAssistant Director of Performance, Lead Methodology EducatorSpectrum Sports PerformanceLacrosse Specific Training, Series 1

Movement:

Go ahead, watch a lacrosse game, pick one player, and count how many times he or she changes direction or turns and runs the opposite direction. The number will most likely be very high. Obviously, the amount of times a player changes direction and runs or the amount of distance a player covers depends on the position being played, but lacrosse demands a high amount of agility and the ability to run one direction, turn and quickly run in a different direction. The focus of this post is to break down a crossover move, and explain a few drills that can help a player become more efficient at turning and running.

Exercise #1:Cross Over Posture Hold with a Load and Lift

When we address how efficiently athletes move on the field, posture is one of the first things that should be addressed. When looking at the Crossover Iso Wall Hold position, kinetic chain alignment is very important to maintain. The body should be in a straight line from head to toe on the grounded leg. An easy way to describe the importance of this is to think about a power line. A nice, straight line of power allows for energy to flow quickly and effectively throughout the line, and in turn it can be used properly. This is no different when the body is running and moving. Maintaining this ‘straight line of power’ allows energy to properly transfer from the ground throughout the body, resulting in greater force production, and much more effective movements. In short, this will allow the athlete to cover more ground per step, and do so quicker. The purpose of this posutre hold is to strengthen the body in this crossover position while maintaining proper kinetic chain alignment. The load and lift, trains the body to load energy properly in the grounded leg. This refers to loading energy throughout the hip and Glute complex, without the knees shooting forward. This also refers to maintaining a flat back during the load and lift portion. The lift allows our athletes to become more efficient at pushing off the ground leg, which is very important when attempting to cover ground when changing direction and re-accelerating. The up leg is important to address as well. This leg should be in position to strike the ground after the push and turn. This can allow the athlete to apply force correctly and then accelerate with power. Typically, we will have an athlete perform 1 to 2 sets of a 30 second Iso Hold, followed by 3-5 load and lifts.

As mentioned during the Load and Lift, the ability to push from the grounded leg is important to cover distance. When an athlete goes to turn and run, we want them to push aggressively to cover distance before they actually run. Athletes that fail to push, may just simply spin, and therefore fail to gain any ground before they run. This is obviously going to take them longer to get from point A to point B, and may not put them in an effective acceleration position. So, this first video is all about an aggressive push from the inside leg, a good knee drive from the outside leg, and having the athlete land in a stable base position. Having the outside arm, and then driving the elbow helps the athlete push and cover ground. The second video shows a Cross Over to Athletic Base and back. Here, the athlete starts in a ‘change of direction’ base position that allows the athlete to change direction quicker. The athlete will simply shift the hips towards the direction he or she is going to go. After the first Cross Over to Base, the athlete will land in the opposite ‘change of direction’ base and quickly come back to a base. Once again, we want to see a strong push from the inside leg, and a good knee drive from the outside leg. Typically, athletes will perform 2-3 sets of 6-8 Crossover to Base reps, followed by 3-4 Cross Over to Athletic Base and back going each direction.

So now it’s time to put everything together and actually change direction and run. As you can see in the first video, the athlete pushes aggressively, drives the inside knee, strikes the ground with force and accelerates 5-7 yards, and finally breaks down in a base position. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to cover ground on the push and turn, so that the athlete has to take less steps. And, it’s also important to push into a good acceleration position so the athlete can run with force. Note, that throughout all of this turning and running, we are looking for the athlete to maintain the good kinetic chain alignment that we talked about in the Iso Wall Hold. The breakdown after the run is important to set the athlete up to change direction. Changing direction can be one of the most difficult things for a lacrosse player to do during a game. As you can see in the second video, the athlete breaks down in a ‘change of direction’ base again and quickly performs another cross over and then accelerates back to the original position. We always look for similar form and power on the second cross over as we do during the first. Obviously, the goal is for the athlete to go from cone to cone as fast as possible. Starting in a good base, crossing over with power, striking the ground with force, breaking down properly and finally crossing over again with power is what we are looking for and trying to establish in all of our lacrosse players. Typically, the athlete would perform 2-3 sets of 3-4 Cross Over to Acceleration to Bases going each direction, followed by 2-3 Cross Over to Acceleration to Base and Back reps going each direction. This drill is also a great way to condition our lacrosse players as well. To condition them we usually have them crossover and run to different distance, and perform multiple reps in succession with appropriate rest intervals.

1 Comment
  1. Here is some information on OPEN or drills referring to movements in which the athlete is presented a stimulus and they have to make a decision as to which direction to move (i.e. 1 of 8 different directions is possible with our equipment). As opposed to CLOSED in which cones have been setup and the athlete would move in a predetermined sequence (i.e. college COMBINES are a good example). Agility is as you've mentioned a host of skills and physical attributes, but I don't hear or see much in the literature about the necessary training of what we call sensory-motor pathways, which encompasses all the strength training you've advocated, but trains athletes for their sports specific interests (i.e. moves in tennis, moves in basketball, moves in baseball, moves in lacrosse, etc). I can appreciate moving around cones, but this shortcuts the amount of training an athlete can achieve in that they could be training BOTH the physical and the sensory at the same time. See this document on Fundamental Movement:
    http://www.sports-split-step.com/files/2013/5353/3821/Fundamental_Movement_Nov_21_2012.pdf
    We have taken the time to video tape professional athletes in various sports and record the times for various movements (i.e. tennis have Return of Serves RS, Ground Strokes GS, Approach Shots AS, Volleys VOL, and OverHeads OH). These times were then put into an EXCEL spreadsheet and averages and standard deviations calculated. Software programs were then generated and Hardware built that provided the stimulus for athletes to train with. Our equipment allows various levels (i.e. Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) to be selected along with 16 progressive drills. The Split Step Coach (SSC) can be toggled between OPEN (random) or CLOSED drills, thus providing a combination of many drills. The real beauty of our approach is that a coach can be at the side of the athlete and not standing up in front directing the OPEN drills using hand signals that are not precise nor consistent. PAUSE features allow the coach to stop at any time to correct or show the athlete what is required. Bungee or restraints can be added during the workout to work certain muscle groups associated with a sport specific move. Cones will not be hindered by the bungee as we won't need to have or use cones, since the SSC provides all the stimulus needed to change directions. See this video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmd4OitwNAo.
    OPEN drills can be directed by a coach standing up in front of an athlete, but this technique is plagued with many problems. Check this video out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmd4OitwNAo
    There is a better way, check this video out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRRVdCYVMi4.
    Do you use OPEN drills with your athletes and how might you incorporate the SSC into your drills?

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