The game of lacrosse is all about power and speed. But behind these two key attributes is something that often gets ignored in young, developing lacrosse players—mobility. Mobility involves the ability to take your joints through their full range of motion, uninhibited by tight muscles or connective tissue. You don't have to move like a gymnast or a yogi, but you should be able to perform lacrosse skills with no limitations.
The most common problem area for lacrosse players is the thoracic spine, or mid- to upper-back. According to Carl Christensen, strength coach for Duke men's lacrosse and Performance Advisor for BridgeLacrosse,
this is particularly true for offensive players, who take a lot of shots, but it affects players of all positions.
A tight and immobile t-spine reduces rotation and extension of the upper back, which limits how hard you can shoot a ball. The range of motion on your shot will be abbreviated, restricting your power.
"You need to be able to get your hands back when you're shooting," explains Christensen. "Having a mobile t-spine is going to help you get your hands back, allowing you to shoot harder as well as more accurately."
Christensen also finds mobility limitations in the hips, especially among defensive players. He says, "If you can't open up your hips, you can't have fast feet in multiple directions. You'll have difficulty crossing over, which will really limit your performance."
Maximizing mobility takes work. If you lift weights and play your sport but don't pay attention to this critical aspect of your game, you'll quickly become tight and immobile. It may not be the most exciting aspect of your workout, but mobility work is just as important as strength exercises.
Christensen recommends lacrosse players incorporate the following mobility drills into their dynamic warm-up or during a dedicated mobility session.
Band Y Squat
This variation of the Squat improves t-spine extension. As your arms move overhead, your core muscles fire to keep your lower back from arching, which is important for protecting your lower back.
Lying Thoracic Mobility—Squeeze
This exercise improves t-spine rotation by rotating your upper back and opening up your chest. By squeezing a ball, you lock your lower back and isolate the rotation to your t-spine.
Sets/Reps: 1x10 each side
Foam Roll T-Spine
Foam rolling your t-spine releases tight muscles that may be causing mobility issues. It offers benefits similar to massage, but you can do it on your own.
This exercise opens up your hips by stretching the often-tight hip flexors and groin muscles. It also improves hip separation, which is important for pivoting and changing directions.
To learn more about the program and get custom lacrosse workouts created by elite experts, go to BridgeAthletic.com.