Quickness Drills with Johns Hopkins Lacrosse

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Improve your foot speed with 2005 NCAA lacrosse champs

By Chad Zimmerman

Anyone who knows anything about lacrosse knows that Johns Hopkins University is synonymous with greatness. Following a perfect 2005 season, the Blue Jays ran the table and took home their eighth National Championship-out of a possible 35, meaning they own nearly 25 percent of all NCAA lacrosse titles.

Jay Dyer, strength and conditioning coach for the Johns Hopkins mens lacrosse team, says, "Lacrosse is billed as the fastest game on two feet. An athlete needs foot speed and quickness to succeed in this sport."

One of Dyers keys to keeping his players on top is training them as athletes first, and lacrosse players second. "Everything we do is designed to develop athletic qualities," he says. "Many of the drills we use won't make you shoot any harder or be able to make a seam pass, but they will make you a better athlete in general."

In the last five years, strength and conditioning have become much more important in lacrosse. According to Dyer, preparing for the season is no longer just about performing drills with the stick. A yearlong commitment to weight training, quickness training and speed drills is necessary to compete at the highest levels and stay off the injured list.

Improving footwork is a cornerstone of Dyer's program. "We do a lot of speed ladder and some plyometric drills to develop foot speed, coordination and proprioception," he says. "All of these drills have to be done at full speed. I tell athletes, 'If you want to be fast, you've got to train fast.' We preach all-out effort when players perform drills. Also, we preach the importance of rest periods so they're able to go full speed when they're expected to."

Speed Ladder Work

Days per week: 2

Patterns per day: 8-10

Reps per pattern: 4

Rest: 30-45 seconds

Purpose: We use the speed ladder as a warm-up before we do other conditioning or speed training. The ladder is challenging and fun. It also adds conditioning to the training, even though it doesn't feel like conditioning.

Coaching Point: Make sure the movements make sense and you don't cross your feet. That's something you never want to do on the field.

Benefits: It helps you achieve higher levels of coordination and develop your overall athletic abilities.

Setup:

Create 18" x 18" squares with speed ladder or tape

Perform given pattern through ladder or tape as quickly as possible

Repeat each pattern four times

Perform lateral patterns twice in each direction

Avoid stepping on ladder or tape

Patterns: Following are just a few out of dozens of speed ladder patterns available. Forward-moving patterns can also be performed moving backward. Always make sure to incorporate lateral movements into your training.

Forward/Backward
• One foot in each rung
• Two feet in each rung
• Ickey Shuffle
• Two in, two out
• Slalom
• Bunny hop every other rung

Lateral
• One foot in each rung
• Two feet in each rung
• Bunny hop
• Scissor kick

Four-Grid Plyometrics

Days per week: 2

Drills per day: 8-12

Reps per pattern: 5-10 seconds for single-leg drills, 10-20 seconds for double-leg drills

Rest: 20-40 seconds for single-leg drills, 40-80 seconds for double-leg drills

Purpose: These drills teach the muscles to move as quickly as they can. If you start to slow down when you get tired, then stop. You don't want your body to become accustomed to moving slowly.

Coaching Point: When you're doing double-leg drills, make sure both feet contact the floor at the same time. It shouldn't sound like you're galloping when you're hopping. Make sure you pick up your feet, and don't let them drag between hops. Finally, always try to move faster.

Benefits: These drills train your body to be reactive and handle different types of body angles and foot angles that occur on the field without thinking, so you're practice- and game-ready.

Setup:
• Place two pieces of tape on ground to form plus sign
• Number squares clockwise, starting in the bottom left square
• Jump from square to square for given pattern as fast as possible
• Immediately after first set of any single-leg pattern, perform for opposite leg

Patterns: An infinite number of patterns can be created for this drill. Perform patterns that use two, three or all four squares. some drills in clockwise direction and others counterclockwise. 1,2; 1,4; 1,3; 2,4; 1,2,3; 4,2,3; etc.

Growing Popularity

Lacrosse is experiencing phenomenal growth. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular sports at the high school level. Over the past five years:
• Male participants grew from 41,822 to 59,993—a 43.5% increase
• Female participants grew from 32,403 to 48,086—a 48.4% increase
• Total participants grew from 74,225 to 108,079—a 45.6% increase
• The number of schools with men's teams grew from 938 to 1,334—a 42.2% increase
• The number of schools with women's teams grew from 783 to 1,270—a 62.2% increase, and
• The total number of schools with a lacrosse team grew from 1,721 to 2,604—a 51.3% increase.

The biggest single-year growth in number of teams occurred in 2002-03, with a 15% increase. The 2004-05 school year experienced the biggest single-year growth in participants with 11,544 new players—an 11.96% increase.

Lacrosse Money

Wanna play lacrosse in college? Then you need to understand how lacrosse scholarship money is divvied up.

Unlike collegiate basketball and football, lacrosse can award partial scholarships and full rides. Each program is allotted an amount of money equal to a certain number of full rides. The money can then be allocated any way the coach wishes. Division I men's lacrosse teams receive 12.69 full scholarships' worth of money per year; and women's teams receive 12 scholarships' worth. The numbers for Division II are 10.8 for men's teams and 9.9 for women's.

In 2005, the 56 Division I men's teams received scholarship money equivalent to 710.64 full rides; the 80 women's teams received the equivalent of 960 full scholarships. In Division II, 32 men's and 36 women's programs received 345.6 and 356.4 scholarships' worth of money, respectively.

For the 2003-04 season, men's teams averaged just over 42 players per team at the D-I level, and about 31 at D-II. The numbers on the women's side were closer to 26 and 21, respectively. These figures can give you a rough idea of the number of athletes receiving some scholarship money at the collegiate level.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: SPEED TRAINING | LACROSSE | COACH | TRAIN | DRILL | SPEED LADDER | SCHOLARSHIPS