Being physical in lacrosse is a necessity. Defenders need to clear the crease, and offensive players need to be able to manufacture some space and open up room for a shot.
The weight room and proper technical training can combine to give you the heavy shoulder you need to make a mark on the game (and your opponent).
No one is going to give you the space you need to find the net, and training in the weight room can help you make your own room. Likewise, if the opponent knows you can hit like a wrecking ball, they’ll think twice before trying to split their way through the middle.
Explosive Hip Extension
The primary engine behind a big hit is powerful and violent extension at the hip.
Maximizing the strength and speed at which you can impart force can take you from weak as a kitten to powerful as a Mack truck—but to maximize strength and speed, you’ve got to get in the gym.
One of the best ways to develop a quick and powerful hip drive is through heavy clean pulls.
The clean pull allows for a heavy load to be moved over a short distance, with a focus on how fast and powerfully that movement is executed. On the field, you have to react at the drop of a hat—and training your ability to be explosive under load helps imprint that skill.
Keeping your reps low, focus on the speed and “pop” behind each repetition. This will groove a smooth and powerful hip extension that translates to bigger hits on the field.
A few training tips on executing the clean pull:
- DON’T rely too much on your arms to assist the movement.
- DO focus on deriving all the force of the movement from your hips moving directly upward.
- DON’T overload yourself to the point where you lose structural stability, or your reps move too slowly. Clean pulls are only effective if they are done quickly and explosively.
Strong Upper Body
Second to explosive hip drive, having a strong and stable upper body is paramount to dealing out big hits.
While all the power is derived from the hips, force needs to be transferred through the upper body without losing structural integrity. And even though the bench press is arguably one of the best upper body strengtheners, it doesn’t involve getting the hips to help transfer force through the upper body. Instead, power-based overhead movements like jerks and push presses teach timing, strength, and stability all at the same time.
Push jerks allow for the same quick hip drive as clean pulls, but the movement is focused on having fast arms that end in a stable and locked out position.
This trains the development of fast and explosive arm action that transfers directly to checking on the lacrosse field. Push pressing is a similar motion, but helps improve the strength behind each check.
Practicing both can help build the strength behind each hit, as well as the speed and time of arm action.
Technique is critical when performing loaded overhead movements, so always be sure to start light and progress with caution. The last thing anyone wants is an unnecessary shoulder injury because you couldn’t check your ego at the door.
Get Lower, Faster
To bring it all together, being strong isn’t the only factor in making a big hit. It helps, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all.
Big hits are the result of timing, power, and getting into a better position than the other guy.
That means you’ve got to get lower, faster.
The low man wins when it comes to impact scenarios, and if you can get into a loaded position (the squat position) and impart more force, you’ll knock them off their center.
Throwing medicine balls is a great tool to practice maximizing speed and power simultaneously. Squat throws help train getting low, getting stable, and exploding from the low position better than any other movement.
Maximizing the speed of getting into the low position and exploding from it will help you topple even the biggest opponent. Position is key here, so having poor squat mobility will most likely hinder your abilities.
The same goes for the speed at which you perform the movement: if you practice squat throws at top-speed, you sacrifice power, which makes the movement more of a conditioning drill. So keep your squats low, and keep your reps controlled, and you will see results.
Start on the Field
Big hits are a part of the game, but whether you’re giving them out or receiving them is on you and how you train.
The first place to learn how to hit is on the field.
You have to know the skills of the game first before you try and have the weight room make an impact. A big squat number can only help you if you’re a lacrosse player first and foremost.
If you’ve got your technique down, it’s time to start adding some power to your engine with proper training and movement selection.