MLL star Matt Zash didn’t help the Philadelphia Barrage win back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007 by being a slug on the field. He helped by developing outstanding reactive change of direction speed, with the assistance of Revolution Athletics strength and conditioning coach Justin Kull.
Zash’s reactive speed workout consists of three exercises: Shuffles, Side Runs and Sprints. Try them out to enhance your reactive capabilities.
“We’re looking for a good low center of gravity,” says Kull. “The chest is up, the back is straight, the weight is on the inside leg when he’s planting, and his feet are shoulder-width apart.”
Zash performs this exercise on the balls of his feet, with his toes pointing straight ahead, and in what Kull calls an “uncontrolled environment." This means that Zash can only change direction at Kull’s command. He could shuffle anywhere between two to 15 yards before having to change direction. The sudden change in direction prepares him to react quickly when covering a man on the field.
While performing Side Running [running laterally], Zash keeps his hips square, feet pointing straight ahead and weight on his inside leg. This exercise helps him stay in front of his opponent when the opponent makes a hard cut toward the crease. Again, he responds to his coach’s signal to change direction.
The same posture rules govern this sprint set: feet straight, hips squared. Zash changes direction at his coach's command, but now he has to rotate his hips to do so. This comes into play during a lacrosse game when there’s a turnover and he has to hustle back to defend the goal.
Kull combines all three exercises into the final set: Shuffles, Side Runs and Sprints. Zash changes direction and exercise based on Kull’s commands. They also used Med Ball Wall Throws as “active rest” between sets.
Use this reactive speed circuit to improve your ability to stay in front of your opponent and react to any play on the field. Prove your lightening-quick speed and get ready to greet college recruiters.
Watch Zash go at it in the video above.
Matt Zash Reactive Change of Direction
- React to coach’s command by quickly planting and changing direction
- Keep hips low, chest up, back straight and maintain a solid base for each exercise
- When planting and cutting, keep feet shoulder-width apart with weight over inside leg
- Perform Shuffle on balls of feet with toes straight ahead
- Perform Side Running with hips square and feet straight ahead
- Perform Sprinting by rotating hips in the direction of coach’s command
- Perform Med Ball Wall Throws between sets to develop upper body strength
Sets/Reps: 3-4/30 seconds