Lacrosse combines speed and agility, so try integrating both components into your workout by using drills that require acceleration and deceleration. Performing these drills a few times a week is better than not doing anything at all. Taking the time to do the drills is productive and will better prepare you for lacrosse.
To work acceleration, perform a Tennis Ball Drop. Have a partner stand four to six yards away holding a tennis ball at shoulder height. As soon as he drops the ball, sprint and try to catch it off one bounce. If you can catch it from five yards away, challenge yourself by trying again from six yards away. Perform 1 set of 6 to 10 reps, using your walk back to the start as your rest. Make sure you don’t take a false step in your reaction to the ball drop. Get in a balanced stance, so your first step is a positive one—not lateral or backward.
For deceleration, try a Whistle Drill. Have a partner blow a whistle, upon which you start sprinting. At the sound of his second whistle, stop as quickly as you can. Before the next whistle, have your partner indicate, with either a point or call, which direction he wants you to sprint next. Then when he hits the whistle again, bang—you’re moving in the new direction. Aim for a five- to 12-yard burst between each whistle. Perform 6 to 8 reps of 2 to 4 whistle blows. For this drill, it is crucial that you drop your center of gravity. It goes to the old principle: Starting is extending, and stopping is bending. Any time you need to stop, decrease your stride length, chop your feet and lower your center of gravity as quickly as possible. Don’t lean forward—you’ll tip over.
Tom Howley, head strength and conditioning coach at Cornell University, works directly with their nationally ranked men’s lacrosse team.