While being fast is important for lacrosse, is speed really the main performance trait we should be training?
How often do lacrosse players achieve top speed in a game? More often than not, a lacrosse athlete is either accelerating or decelerating in the midst of the game play.
Lacrosse, like most field sports, is a game where it’s more important have the ability to reach a top/high speed QUICKLY. You don’t have to be the fastest on the field (although that helps), but you want to be able to go from zero to all-out faster than the competition.
Athletes spend the majority of the game using quick bursts to get into open field position, either to pass, shoot, or make space. Therefore, athletes with better acceleration can get more distance between them and defenders.
Likewise, good defenders can accelerate at a quicker rate to close down and shut-down an offensive threat.
The development of acceleration is trainable through three factors.
- Improving stride frequency (how quickly we move our legs)
- Reducing ground contact time
- Improving the force behind each stride
All three factors are part of power development.
The ability to produce force at a faster rate translates to better power output.
Likewise, if we increase the overall amount of force we can generate while maintaining the same speed at which it is recruited, our power still goes up. #3 is a training factor that commonly gets overlooked, and quite often an athlete simply needs to learn how to be stronger to make improvements in their speed and quickness.
This why it’s important for athletes to develop strength in movements like the squat and deadlift. These movements place the body in position to recruit the most force through the entire kinetic chain. Squatting and deadlifting should be basic foundational movements in any sport-centric training program. They’ll help to develop a general, functional level of strength that can be utilized in power focused training.
Training power means training the rate of force development.
Athletes who are more explosive can recruit more force at faster rates. Movements like hang cleans, power cleans, weighted jumps, and heavy med ball throws help to challenge the speed at which force is produced. These weight room movements help to not only increase the force behind each stride, but also the speed at which it can be produced.
One of the best ways to develop stride frequency is through resisted sprint training. Either through sled drags or hill sprints, challenging maximal speed production while under resistance helps to promote a faster stride rate. When using sprint sleds, be sure to keep the resistance light enough that you can maintain perfect form – a sled that’s too heavy leads to poor running mechanics that won’t translate to the field. Hill sprints, on the other hand, place you in better positions that translate to stronger sprint mechanics.
You can read more on hill sprints on the Volt blog, and how to integrate them into your current training program.
Speed is important, but acceleration should be the prime focus of your training program.
Utilize the weight room to your advantage and train movements that have a direct translation to improving your game. First and foremost, you probably need to get stronger and train movements that effectively develop the ability put force into the ground. Transferring that strength into power is critical to not only acceleration development, but to being a complete athlete.
Follow these guidelines and you will be seeing yourself improving acceleration in no time!