Lacrosse Performance Training

How to maximize your athleticism for a game built for athletes.

Lacrosse Performance Training

How to maximize your athleticism in a game built for athletes.

Recently I went to a High School game to watch some of our Driven athletes compete. It was great seeing them in action and they played hard and well. Whenever I go to a game I can’t help but wonder what impact I could have on a team if I was able to build, implement, and coach a complete performance plan for the program. One of the hardest parts of the job is that I am often stuck on the sidelines not able to make the kind of impact across the entire team that I know I could. Ultimately, I love training to win and helping kids compete to their fullest potential, and we all like being a part of something bigger than ourselves. 

One of the biggest takeaways from this game is that lacrosse is a very athletic sport. Below I outline various components of athleticism and how they all fit together into a performance plan for the lacrosse athlete. If you are looking to take your game to the next level you can’t just be the player that works on their stick skills – there simply is too much athleticism needed in the sport.

1. The impact that a performance plan and coach can have on lacrosse is immense because overall athleticism might be more important in lacrosse than in any other sport. If you aren’t fast and if you can’t move there is just nowhere to hide out on that field. It’s not like basketball where you can plop down under the basket and dunk or just be a 3-point shooting specialist. Some linemen in football are just big boys who are hard to move but don’t move well. Soccer is a lot easier to steal the ball so the sprinting isn’t as continuous and there is way more contact in lacrosse. Across the board, if you aren’t athletic you will have a hard time making an impact on the game. 

2. There is more hard sprinting in lacrosse than other sports. Soccer has a lot of walking/jogging, basketball there is a lot of shuffling and shortcuts, football you have five-second plays and then rest, hockey you do sprint hard but since you are gliding on ice it is a little easier on the joints. With lacrosse, you have many sprints over 15 yards going full speed, with contact, with change of direction, with curve running, with playmaking on top of that. Not easy. 

3. The better you change direction and accelerate out of that change the better you’ll be. You need to be able to sprint from different angles (curved, crossovers, laterally, on a diagonal), stop, shift, and accelerate again. If you can’t change direction well and be fast in and out of your cuts you are a sitting duck defensively or you’ll never be able to create a good enough angle to get a good shot off. You need to be able to cut on angles AND be explosive out of those cuts. Training acceleration in 360 degrees and between 5-25 yards is extremely important.

4. You need top-end speed (max velocity). Top speed is your fastest MPH ability. Since so much of the game is played fast you need a speed reserve. Who plays better at 15 MPH, the athlete who can top speed sprint 20 MPH or the kid who can only top speed sprint 16 MPH? The kid with the bigger buffer. In order to have good explosiveness out of your cut you need your central nervous system primed and trained. This only happens when you do top-speed work. Lastly, having breakaway speed is vital to either create distance or reclaim lost ground depending on if you play offense or defense. You have to have an extra gear. 

5. Lacrosse is a very physical sport. You have to be strong. As an offensive player when you make your runs you are getting physically hit with the opponents’ stick or they are using their stick to block your progression. If you play defense you have to be the one to apply that force. But watching that game I couldn’t help but think about the old classic barbell bench press and how insignificant it is to generate improved play on the field. You need strength that is integrated. Another thing to appreciate about strength is that it becomes more important as the game progresses. Everyone is fresh in the first half but the true testament to how hard AND how well you trained is how you feel in the second half. Everyone’s energy is diminished, but who can play at a higher intensity will largely determine the impact you have in the second half. 

6. The way a team conditions matters. I was talking with a college lacrosse player and he was saying how slower and less explosive he feels than when he was training at Driven 3 x per week. The season is a grind and games are intense on the legs. The number one priority then would be to use conditioning strategically so that you don’t destroy your speed and explosiveness. Teams need fast athletes! Endless and random gassers at the end of practice do more harm than good. Second, a well-executed practice would be all the conditioning you need if you structure the drills appropriately. Third, any conditioning at practice would be accompanied by sufficient rest. In between bouts of intensity you have plenty of time to recover. Fourth, would be to scientifically build your zone two. That is something I would have to help athletes do on their own in a way that produces the desired results. This would create an aerobic reserve so that their heart and lungs have the stamina to finish the game strong. 


It was great seeing so many athletes I have trained compete and I was really glad I went and will be bringing my family to more games this season. I do think the above message applies to all sports but after watching lacrosse I am certain that the better the athlete the better the player. Yes, improve your shot and ability to handle the stick, but if you are a serious player then you need to become the best athlete you can be. Your lacrosse coach will notice and you’ll have more fun than ever before. If you want to talk about how we can help implement these principles into your athletes performance plan you can fill out the form on the website and we’ll be in contact.