Lacrosse is all about speed, change of speed and direction, and recovery time. Lacrosse players need to be explosive, fast, and able to recover quickly. Get your conditioning done in practice in just four minutes with Tabata sprints. You can even have your players carry a ball so they can work on dodging, cradling and field vision while they do it.
Lacrosse is "The Fastest Game on Two Feet" for a reason. Every player on the field, whether Defense, Midfield, Attack, even Goalie, has to run as hard as possible while the action is close by, and then rest and recover quickly before the next play comes their way.
Lacrosse isn't soccer (or "futbol"), with 90 minutes of constant running and bursts of sprinting mixed in. You don't want endurance necessarily, although developing well-rounded athletes is one of the most important things you do as a youth or high school sports coach.
Lacrosse is about speed. What you need is "high-intensity interval training" (HIIT). Run hard on the field, run hard to do your job, then run hard to get off so the next guy can get on. Rest and recovery time are very important so your players can be ready to go 100% the next time they get on the field. Check out this great article on The Difference Between Speed and Conditioning.
Tabata Sprints are an easy way to practice this type of zero-to-60 mph running that your players need in just three to four minutes!
*Make sure you do an appropriate amount of stretching and warm-up movements before you go into HIIT. This should not be the very first thing you do in practice. It also should not be the last.
Here's THE DRILL:
- Start your players spread out around the field anywhere they like. You can set a defined area, such as inside the goal area box or past the restrainer or let them run anywhere. Sidelines and boundaries will force them to stop and change directions.
- Each player should have a ball so they can work on dodging and carrying while they run.
- Have your players run as hard as they can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. You are looking for maximum speed and effort.
- Repeat this cycle of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for six to eight cycles, for a total of three to four minutes at most.
- Encourage your players to run in totally random directions during that 20 seconds- forwards, backwards, sideways, etc.
- Emphasize changing directions as much as possible so that your players get to top speed, stop, turn, and accelerate until they reach their top speed again.
- Tell them to keep their heads and eyes up so they don't run into each other.
- Call out specific dodges to practice while they run- Split dodge, Roll dodge, Zig-zag dodge, Stop dodge, etc.
- If they drop the ball, encourage them to get the ground ball at full speed and keep running until the 20 seconds is up!
- You could try it too, Coach! Stay in shape by running with your players.
You can also use this same cycle of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off for any other conditioning exercises: push-ups, sit-ups, up-downs, mountain-climbers, star-jumps, piggy-backs, etc.
Try this out once or twice a week and let us know any improvements you see in your players.