Pro Lax Training Tips – Movement Skills

A very important part of a well rounded training program for lacrosse is movement skills training. Movement skills can be broken down into two main categories: multi-directional or linear (straight ahead) movement skills. Speed is a skill that can be taught and improved just like strength or endurance yet very few people include any movement training into their program, even though everyone would like to have a quicker ‘first step.’

Multi-directional movement skills are more important for lacrosse than linear skills. While acceleration gets mentioned far more, rarely do you ever get to run in a straight line for any extended period of time. The key to multi-directional movement is your ability to decelerate. In fact, deceleration is usually what separates you from your defender. Every cut or dodge always begins by going in one direction and then quickly planting your foot and decelerating, then accelerating in the opposite direction. You have to decelerate and stop going in one direction before you can even begin to think of accelerating in a new direction. Slowing yourself down is the secret to being fast!! Deceleration is a skill that can be improved. Simply running as fast as you can and then trying to stop as fast as possible in an athletic position will help. However, jumps and single leg hops with the focus being on landing perfectly and stable will also help to greatly improve your ability to decelerate.

Linear speed can be broken down into acceleration and maximum velocity running technique. They are two very different methods of running. Due to the nature of lacrosse, acceleration (roughly the first 10 yards) should be the focus of linear speed training. There are two aspects to your running stride that determine your speed: stride frequency and stride length. The goal should be on improving stride frequency; decreasing the time it takes you to perform a single stride. If you can take more strides of the same length you take now in a shorter period of time you will be faster. The first is to think of running like you are crushing a pop can. You don’t rest your foot on top of the can and then push down hard. You drive your knee up as hard as you can and push right through the top of the can. We want to do the same thing to the ground when we are running. The second is to have your ankle dorsiflexed while you run. Dorsiflexing your ankle means pulling your toes up to your knee. This will help to improve and promote better knee punch. Practice these skills while doing 10 yard sprints as fast as you can.

Sean Holmes, CSCS
BA (Honours) Kinesiology and Health Sciences

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