Hard work and smart work are both required to perform better on the lacrosse field.
A lacrosse player must be concerned with becoming stronger, faster and smarter, which is why it’s important to train full body movements in different planes of motion.
Movement is classified in three planes of motion when training: sagittal, frontal and transverse.
• Sagittal: forward and backward motion; e.g., sprinting in either direction
• Frontal: laterally shuffling to the left or right
• Transverse: diagonal running to the left or right
If you want to move fast on the field, you must focus on these movements, not just specific muscles or muscle groups. Similar to the phrase, “you are what you eat,” you perform how you train.
This isn’t limited to the strength-training portion of your workout. Movement-preparation exercises, including dynamic flexibility and dynamic warm-ups, must also be performed in all three planes of motion.
Simply put, movement-preparation exercises prepare the body for movement; they boost your heart rate, expand blood flow to the muscles and increase your core temperature. Performing a movement-preparation series will improve the function of the nervous system and better prepare it for the demands of the game.
Keeping your nervous system in tune for efficient movement requires flexibility and good joint mobility. If a player has tight hips, he’ll be unable to get lower while changing direction. This also puts more abnormal strain on the knees and ankles, leaving them more susceptible to injury.
Your core is also best trained in all planes of motion—no more straight sit-ups or crunches. Crunches were designed to make the abdominal muscles bigger in the sagittal plane of motion, so they look good when you’re not moving. You may look good without a shirt on, but that’s not going to make your core stronger.
Think about the complexity of all the movements that occur while playing lacrosse. During training, full-body actions that combine planes of motion best prepare the core to integrate movement between the upper and lower body. This will help the athlete avoid injury and perform his best.
The Inchworm is a dynamic exercise you can perform as part of your movement preparation work. Also included below are two strength exercises to help get you started training in the sagittal and frontal planes of motion.
Inchworm (Sagittal Plane)
• Begin in push-up position
• Slowly walk feet toward hands
• Walk hands back into push-up position
Sets/Reps: Continue for 15-20 yards
Coaching Points: Keep legs straight // Make sure all muscles go through full range of motion // Don’t take big steps with hands or feet
Suspended Push-Ups with Straps (Sagittal Plane)
• Assume push-up position on straps attached to pull-up bar
• Perform push-ups
Coaching Points: Keep body straight and core tight // Don’t lower body past chest level // Stay on balls of your feet // Keep chest up
Paris: This exercise uses your body weight and gravity as resistance. Suspended push-ups are a great starter exercise for building full body strength in the sagittal plane.
Lateral Lunge and Press with Kettlebell (Frontal Plane)
• Start with feet shoulder-width apart
• Hold kettlebell in overhead press position, just above shoulder
• Perform Lateral Lunge
• Drive back to starting position with lunging leg
• Press kettlebell above head until elbow is locked out
• Lower kettlebell back to starting position
Sets/Reps: 4×20 (10 each way)
Coaching Points: Keep knees behind toes // Feet should be pointed forward // Keep back flat while shifting weight onto heels // Drive through your heels // Keep body straight when pressing overhead
Paris: It’s uncommon to see lacrosse players use frontal plane movements in training and conditioning. However, most of the game of lacrosse involves explosive movement in this overlooked and undertrained plane of motion.
Brian Paris DC, NASM-PES, is the athletic trainer at Performance Lacrosse.