With March Madness now, spring almost here, and lacrosse season upon us, lets talk about lacrosse and basketball. How do you get into shape for lacrosse? Do you lift weights, do you run, do you play a different sport? I believe that a combination of training techniques should be considered, however, basketball is a great sport in combination with lacrosse. Minus indoor lacrosse, basketball season and lacrosse season do no coincide, making them an ideal match. With basketball season prior to lacrosse season this could be the perfect set up.
What is the best sport to play in the off-season before lacrosse? I believe that basketball is the best cross-training for lacrosse. It helps improve cardiovascular fitness, increase quickness, increase toughness, and is also similar with game movement. What do I mean by game movement? I am referring to team sliding on defense when someone gets beat. I am talking about offensive cutting and movement with the ball. Team riding/pressing and clearing is also very similar. Everything down to body position to protect the ball are comparable in each sport.
Size is now beginning to matter in lacrosse more than ever as attackman are as big or bigger than defenseman. Basketball players just so happen to be the largest most nimble athletes. However, being quicker and faster than the opponent still has its place in any sport. There are always exceptions, but attackman and guards generally work in a similar fashion, as do defensemen and forwards. Middies are a a combination of both. Could you imagine Lebron James with a lacrosse stick? Could he have been a new school Jim Brown? That would be tough to beat, but is a great example of how playing multiple sports is key to performance. Performing the same sport all year around is not advised due repetitive stress and increased likelihood of over-use injury.
I loved running midfield as you had the chance to play both offense and defense. Middies, you have got to be in shape and have the ability to run up and down the field with explosive bursts. A well executed fast break ending in a goal might be one of the sweetest feelings in team sport. Endurance training or even playing soccer in the offseason may help you in this area. You must also be strong and explosive. Lacrosse is the fastest game on two feet, and you are the ones who set the pace. Be explosive when powering through a ground ball. Exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and basketball can help in this regard when staying low, stable and balanced. The face dodge is similar in quickness and cutting pattern as a cross over, and one of the most satisfying moves as you blow by and overpower your opponent. Allen Iverson did it best, but Paul Rabil is pretty nice too.
Attackman, you don't have to run as much, but while the ball is on the offensive side of the field you better be running 110% until that ball crosses midfield. You must be some of the quickest guys on the field. Strength training for a stable base of support and footwork drills are important for you to beat your man to the spot. Going to the hole is like going to the goal. You are the point guard from behind the cage or off the dodge looking to pass or make something happen by getting a step on your man.
Defenseman, you are some of the strongest guys on the team, and hold the fort down for the lonely Goalie. Strength or hypertrophy training is advisable to help keep the offense in check. Again, a balanced and stable base is essential with the inclusion of deadlifts, squats, and lunges into training. Good footwork and stable base is essential, which sounds eerily similar to a basketball player. Team defensive movement and positioning or sliding are almost identical in both basketball and lacrosse. But, do not forget defenseman still need to be able to run not only to keep up with attackman, but also to help clear the ball. Basketball players must run up and down the court too help with cardiovascular fitness.
Indoor lacrosse takes the fastest game on two feet to the next level allowing the game to be even more like basketball due to size of the field and quickness necessary. The take home message is to play different sports. Being a multi-sport athlete promotes different training patterns that help improve body control, with an added bonus of decreasing chance of injury.
James Dulkerian, DPT
Active outdoorsman with an honest soul and a passion for health.
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