At this point you probably know all about my trip to the Ales Hrebesky Memorial where I played box lacrosse against some of the best Europe has to offer. While I have described the tournament and how amazing it is in depth, I have not yet given you my personal take on full contact box lacrosse, so let me sum it up in two words for you: EXHAUSTED and SORE.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a GREAT time playing, and the event was unreal. In retrospect though, it is clear that I did not properly prepare for box lacrosse. So even though I am NOT a personal trainer or certified in any way, with this newly earned perspective on soreness, I’m going to lay out a couple of concepts on How To Train And Prepare For Box Lacrosse.
We’ve talked about field lacrosse at length, and covered goalkeeping, shooting, midfielders and defenseman. We’ve even shown you how to become a takeaway master. So now box lacrosse is getting its due!
The first thing to do, if you are primarily a field player, is to throw most of the field training right out the window. Box is a different game and it requires different skills and strengths, so prepare for what you are going to be doing, not what you have been doing. Also, make sure to watch a box game or two before you play for the first time. It’s important to know just how physical the game is!
I am positive that I did not train hard enough, and this one is a simple fix. Whatever amount of work you put in to prep for field, double the work rate for box. The grind of a box game is intense and you need to be able to go 100% on almost every single run. There is no room for laziness and on defense your feet will always be chopping and moving.
If you usually give yourself 2 minutes of rest between sets, cut it down to 1 and cut the weight by 20-30%. Increase your reps a bit. If you sprint 50 yards then wait 30 seconds before your next sprint, sprint 30 yards and wait 10 seconds instead. Increase the short burst training, and the rate of sets. You’ll start to feel “box lacrosse tired” soon enough.
GET STRONG, but don’t worry about becoming Hercules. I haven’t lifted a weight in years, and I don’t “work out” per se. But after playing 6 games of box lacrosse in 4 days, I wish I had. At the very least I should have been doing push ups, pull ups and ab work for my upper body and core, and running/plyos/body weight exercises for my legs. Instead I decided to take the stairs and not the elevator and play more wall ball. Not a bad choice… but not a great one!
My shoulders are now killing me. They are by far and away the most sore part of my entire body, and that is saying something. I did a lot of crosschecking, and I took a lot of crosschecking. I bumped and hit people with my shoulder whenever I could and because of all that abuse, my arms feel like they might fall off. If you don’t get strong and prepare yourself, this will happen to you too, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The fact is, I didn’t need to bulk up and “get huge” but by not training my shoulders up, they suffered abuse in the games.
Photo Credit: Josef Stepan on Facebook. Check him out!
Work those legs and get ready to be a diverse athlete. While the upper body and shoulders are important, the most important thing to get going is your legs. A lot of the power derived from a good crosscheck, hit, or shot comes from your legs, and that was where I focused my self-limited energy when prepping for the Ales Hrebesky. Like I said earlier, I walked up 5 flights of stairs a couple of times per day, and I also did some body weight exercises, where I focused on moving slowly in a full range of motion. This relative improvement in leg strength kept me running hard all game, and out of all the areas in my body, my legs probably feel the best.
If you want to get your legs to the next level for box lacrosse, you will really need to train them. Do hill sprints, lunges all the way around a track and play a lot of basketball. Basketball is a great training tool for box and I’m definitely going to use it more next time I begin my box prep. The key with BBall is to play good defense and always move on offense. That will get you in GREAT shape for box, and get you in the “tireless worker” mind set.
Now when it comes to getting your stick ready for box, I’ll stick with wall ball as your most effective tool, but with some changes. When I play wall ball for field, I tend to pick out a spot on the wall and try to hit it as many times as I can. It’s about giving and getting a good pass. For box though, I think you need to switch it up a lot more.
Throw more sidearm passes, underhand, and give yourself only “mediocre” passes to catch. You need quick hands in box, the ability to turn a bad pass into an excellent catch and quick stick cannot be underestimated. Basically, get out on the wall and challenge yourself with awkward passes. You’ll see them in the game, so prep for them on the wall. Also make sure you really fire the ball hard because the tight spaces in box mean you have to zip passes in there.
The “challenge yourself” attitude goes for shooting as well. If you’ve got access to a box goal then have at it full bore, but if you only have a wall or a field goal, find ways to make it work. Tie a water bottle into the goal 4 feet high and only try to hit the bottle. Move a bit closer, but aim for a smaller area. Get your shots off quicker. Focus on keeping your shot movement tight and pick corners. Get used to dropping your shoulder and dumping the ball in overhand. Watch a box game and see how they shoot. Practice those techniques!
Watch Rocky IV. Seriously. Box lacrosse is very much about attitude, and when Rocky went to the Soviet Union to take on Ivan Drago, he had the perfect box lacrosse mentality, not only in his training, but in his demeanor. There was no nonsense to Rocky, but he wasn’t looking for a fight where there wasn’t one. He was focused on winning the boxing match, and that’s the box attitude of a winner.
He takes abuse time and time again, but keeps his eyes on the prize and gets his shots in when it’s time. At the end, his emotions are keeping him together, and by the end of a tough box game, you’ll know how we felt.
My body feels like it’s falling apart, much more so than after I play a lot of field lacrosse, but I had a great time. So the next time I go out and play a lot of box I’m going to prepare the right way. I hope that my personal pain and experience can help you prepare as well.
If you have any great box lacrosse training tips, drop them in the comments section and help your fellow laxer out!