Lacrosse Off-season Training; Get Prepared for Your Lacrosse Season: Part 1
Lacrosse is an intense sport and is considered the fastest sport on two feet. During the off season, players prepare for this fast pace sport in several different ways, such as: shooting, developing foot speed, stick protection, and improving many other aspects of the game. When the spring tryouts come around, it’s very clear to the coaches which players have done their off-season homework. One aspect that many coaches use as a tool to judge a player’s off-season work is the player’s conditioning level and player’s stick skills. Entering the season with a high level of endurance allows the coach to be able to get right into their lacrosse drills to enhance the skills of the player, rather than utilizing time building the team’s endurance.
Many questions come up when players start talking about off-season training.
Here are a few of the reoccurring questions that tend to come up, with some answers.
1. Coach, what can I do to get my game to the next level?
2. Should I play lacrosse all year round?
3. How should I be conditioning in the off-season? Part 2
4. When should I start getting conditioned for lacrosse? Part 2
Initially I thought I could right this in one post, but there is just way too much to discuss with these topics. So to keep this organized, I am going to answer questions 1 and 2 now, and discuss 3 and 4 in a later post.
Coach, what can I do to get my game to the next level?
This question is my favorite one out there, and the answer applies to almost all aspects of life that you want to improve. The first thing you have to do is assess your game. The saying, “if we don’t assess, we guess” works perfectly here. Look at the list below and answer the questions to help evaluate your game. This idea of evaluating yourself shouldn’t be a negative bash on a player; this should identify the aspect of a player’s game that he or she needs to work on. If you are having trouble answering theses question, sit down with a parent/coach/teammate (anyone who knows your game and watched you play) and go over these questions.
Athletic ability: Is your body in adequate shape? Are you fast? Do you have endurance? Are you quick to change direction? Do you get to the ball before others? Are you strong on your feet when in contact with other players? Are you an explosive player?
Knowledge of the game: When you are in specific situations on the field, do you know where you should be? Are you in in the right spots when you don’t have the ball? Do you balance the field? Are you constantly aware of your teammates and opponents? Do you know when to push the ball towards the cage? Do you know when to slow the ball down and possess? Can you identify opponent’s habits? Do you dodge to score? Do you dodge at the right time? Does your dodge produce positive offensive opportunities? Do you throw checks at the right time? Do you understand team defense?
Shooting: Do you shoot for openings? Is your shot accurate? Can you put power on the ball? Can you finish in close? Do you have a quick release? Can you get your hand free to shoot under pressure? Do you have proper technique?
Stick skills: Do you protect your stick well from defenders? Do you pass accurately? Do you catch passes thrown to you? Do you have a quick release? Do you throw accurate checks? Do you throw proper pokes? Is your stick taking away passing lanes on defense?
These questions should be used as a tool to assess your lacrosse game. If you answered “no” or “sometimes” to any of these questions, take time this off-season working on that particular area of your game.
Now that you have identified a specific area of your lacrosse game that needs improving, put an emphasis during your off-season training to improve that area. This does not mean that you should ignore all other aspects of your game. You must keep a portion of each aspect of lacrosse in your training program. Every player can improve in all areas, but work on your weakest link until it is no longer your weakest link, then continue to work on the next weakest link. If this concept is constantly applied to our lacrosse game, you will consistently get better at the game.
Should I play lacrosse year round?
No, athletes should play whatever sport is in season. This does not mean that players shouldn’t play any organized lacrosse in the Fall or Winter, it means that athletes should improve their general performance by playing a variety of sports in the off-season, not just lacrosse. Keep a stick in your hand during the off-season but try new sports or activities that require you to move differently than you would in lacrosse. The benefit to playing different sports in the off season is that you learn new ways to move your body. You also gain a greater appreciation for movement by trying new movements that are difficult to master.
Looking at young athletes there seems to be two categories that children should avoid falling into; not active enough or too active in one specific sport. Doing some type of physical movement is better than sitting watching TV or playing video games. Youth athletes need to develop various movements in all directions, stabilize their joints, and move at different velocities. Children develop this solid foundation by playing a wide variety of sports or activities such as dance and gymnastics. When athletes only play one specific sport year round they limit themselves to the same motor programs and movement patterns. These athletes rapidly improve at their sport, but peak at an earlier age then a player who doesn’t specialize in one sport. Children who specialize to early also become psychologically fatigued, which can inhibit development of the sport. Ultimately, children need diverse movements for optimal performance.