Lacrosse season is upon us, which means that after months of Fall Ball training, it's finally game time.
Your biggest focus during the season, besides taking home some Ws, should be maintaining muscle, preventing injury and recovering between games. But figuring out which exercises are most beneficial to squeeze in between practices and games can feel like an uphill battle.
That's why we turned to some of the top women's lacrosse performance coaches in the nation. Read on for their recommendations on must-do in-season exercises.
Women's Lacrosse In-Season Exercises
Taking time to recover between games is one of the easiest ways to prevent injury from overuse of muscles. Many trainers dedicate the day before and after game day to recovery, focusing on stretching, relieving muscle soreness and eliminating lactic acid build-up.
Veronica Dyer, Syracuse University's women's lacrosse strength and conditioning coach from 2006 to 2013, believes that foam rolling is the most beneficial in-season trick for staying 100 percent.
Dyer's strength training kept the Orange a top-ranked team for the past seven seasons and powered them to a National Championship in 2012. She says, "Each player should have their own mini-foam roller, stretch band, and ball (tennis or lax) that they keep in their travel bag, backpack, locker, or dorm room so that they can perform stretching and recovery methods daily."
How to do it:
IT Band: Lie on your right side and place the foam roller under your right hip. Keep your right leg straight. Pull your left leg over your right and step your foot down as close to your hips as possible so that your legs are in a "4" position. Hold your body up with your right forearm and left leg and move the foam roller under you to reduce muscle soreness.
Quads: Lie on your stomach with the foam roller under one quad. Maintain stability on your elbows and slowly move up and down.
Calves: Sit on the ground with the foam roller under your calves. Lift your body up onto your arms and roll. Cross your legs at your ankles to put extra weight on your calves, then switch sides.
2. Speed and Agility
Lacrosse is one of the fastest and most physically demanding sports on two feet. It's estimated that midfield players run two to three miles per game.
Will Hitzelberger, strength and conditioning coach for Rollins College, has trained the women's lacrosse team since the program's start in 2007. Hitzelberger has helped build eight All-American players and contributed to the team's appearance in back-to-back NCAA Final Four Tournaments.
Hitzelberger trains women's lacrosse different from other sports by incorporating a crossover run into muscular training and warm-ups.
He says, "The demands of lacrosse are taxing on the entire body and require these athletes to have full arsenal of athletic attributes. There is one major movement that is unique to lacrosse, and that is the crossover run, most commonly used while defending."
How to do it:
Crossover Jump: Place two cones 5 yards apart. Start in athletic stance next to one cone. Crossover jump to the opposite cone and return to athletic stance. Repeat 10 times. Example.
Resisted Crossover March: Find a partner (or use a weighted sled). Place a resistance band around your waist. Start in a strong, tall athletic position and begin marching in place. When your partner says go, drive your knee across your body, keeping your body perpendicular to your partner. Continue the Crossover March for 10 yards, then switch sides. Repeat 4 times.
Resisted Crossover Run: Keep resistance band at waist. Start in low squat athletic position. When partner says go, cross over into a sprint position for 5 yards. Repeat 8 times.
3. Full-Body Power
Karin Werth has trained the University of Florida women's lacrosse team since 1997. In the past four years, the team has appeared in the D-I Quarterfinal Tournament twice and once in the NCAA Final Four. She believes that weekly Olympic lifting is the most important training regimen for women's lacrosse.
"We lift twice a week in-season, and a big part of our success is not only maintaining strength and power, but also having the players do daily recovery drills," says Werth, "I incorporate sledge hammer training and hand-wrist-forearm strength work in the off-season."
How to do it:
Sledge Hammer Circuit:
- Grip sledgehammer with one hand on the neck and one at the bottom. Perform Sledgehammer Tire Slam. Repeat 10x.
- Hold sledgehammer in both hands with arms locked and sledgehammer at shoulder level. Perform a Sledgehammer Squat. Repeat 10x.
- With one hand, hold sledgehammer at your side. Pull the hammer up to your shoulder in a Bicep Curl motion, then reach your arm up to the sky. Move hammer back down to your side. Repeat 10x.
4. Leg Strength
Michael Szemborski, director of strength and conditioning for Maryland University Athletics for the past four year, has been crucial to the Terps' success, including a 22-1 record last year and appearances in three of the past four National Championship games.
Szemborski believes that squatting is one of the most beneficial exercises for in-season lacrosse athletes.
"The squat movement is the backbone of our training program, with the idea of keeping the legs strong and powerful throughout the course of the season," says Szemborski. "I vary this up between some variation of Back, Front, Box, Chain, DB, and Overhead Squats."
How to do it:
Dumbbell Squat: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Use 10 pound weights to start. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with arms at your sides. Squat down, then return to your athletic stance. Repeat 10x.
Single-Leg Bench Lunge: Place one leg up on a bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and your arms at your sides. Dip down into a lunge position. Repeat 10x on each leg. If you don't have a bench, perform Dumbbell Walking Lunges.
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