A lacrosse shot is a full-body effort. The muscles in your lower body, core and upper body work together to explosively and precisely fire the ball. To improve this critical skill, you need to train your body accordingly.
Carl Christensen, strength coach for the Duke men's lacrosse team and Performance Advisor for BridgeLacrosse, explains that strengthening the kinetic chain is crucial, not only for improving your shot power, but also for injury prevention. You could have the hardest shot on the team, but a hidden weakness could leave you sitting on the bench. "Some of our guys who shoot the hardest are very weak in areas you wouldn't think," Christensen says.
It all starts with the lower body. Strengthening your hips, glutes and other lower-body muscles allows you to drive off the ground to create the majority of the power for your shot. Christensen prefers single-leg exercises for this purpose, because they increase stability and balance strength in both of your legs so your shot is equally effective from either side.
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Core rotation exercises transfer the power from your lower body to your upper body. Finally, a strong back adds an extra boost of power to your shot and creates a solid foundation for your shoulders so they can move explosively with minimal risk of injury.
Christensen does not have his lacrosse players perform exercises that simulate a lacrosse shot. If you add resistance to a complex move, your technique may break down. Instead, go with exercises that develop the fundamental moves that contribute to the shot, such as hip extension, and hip and spinal flexion.
"There's a saying that the more complex the skill, if you add resistance, you might mess it up," Christensen says. "We do some things that may resemble a lacrosse shot, but it's not exactly specific to the shot."
To improve your shot power, integrate the following exercises into your program, scaled to your level of experience in the weight room.
1. Lawnmower Pull
Level: Intermediate to advanced
This is essentially a Split-Squat combined with a Single-Arm Cable Row. It's great for shot development and single-leg stability. The split stance and unilateral row build strength that's specific to lacrosse shot development.
2. Ropes – Figure-8
When you want a great metabolic finisher or need to increase shoulder, core, upper-back and grip strength—and stamina—incorporate battle ropes into your workout. The Figure-8 is great for lacrosse, because it is cross-sectional, not solely linear. Your legs, lower back and core are in an isometric hold, while your upper back, shoulders and arms battle the undulating movement of the ropes. This pattern of battle ropes will add zip to your shot.
3. Weight Vest Power Step-Up
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
This variation of the Step-Up uses a weight vest to spread the load across your entire body. Incorporate this explosive version into your program to develop lower-body power and endurance needed to maintain shot velocity and finish games strong.
4. Long-Lever Band Rotations
Level: Development to Intermediate
This a great shot development exercise for athletes of all levels. Younger athletes can incorporate it into the main part of their workouts, while advanced athletes can use it as pre-game or pre-workout activation.
To learn more about the program and get custom lacrosse workouts created by elite experts, go to BridgeAthletic.com.