We like to "PLAY IT SAFE". Therefore, we recommend that your physician approve of all and any exercise regiments. All the information presented here is for educational and resource purposes only. It is there to help you make informed decisions about fitness training. It is NOT a substitute for or an addition to any advice given to you by your physician.
Stretching to be your best
As with any physical conditioning, your best workout is only as effective as your best pre-workout stretch. Stretching helps to reduce strains, sprains, spasms, and the muscle tears that happen when muscles are tight and inflexible. Stretching also helps prevent injuries common to running, such as pulled muscles, shin splints, hamstring pulls, ankle sprains, pulled groins, and Achilles tendinitis. Stretching before and after practices and games will keep you flexible — it reduces muscle tension by increasing your range of motion, which makes you a better lacrosse player.
You have to run both long and short distances in lacrosse. All that running requires you to stay in running shape with long-distance conditioning, spring conditioning to increase speed, and endurance training. While you can run for game-shape conditioning at any time during the year, long-distance and endurance training are best reserved for the off-season or during pre-season training, and conditioning for speed is ideal for in-season workouts.
Usually, a good long distance run lasts from 12 to 15 minutes. To increase speed efficiency, stress short strides to begin with, starting with running on your toes and the middle of your foot, but then generate more speed by opening up your stride (thus increasing your stride length and moving your legs faster).
Endurance, or interval, training during the season can be tailored to your lacrosse practices. Focus the workouts on simulating lacrosse game conditions — that is, going for short intensive spurts of activity before a period of rest. Box lacrosse players play in shifts and each shift requires continuous bursts of speed over short distances with little recovery time. The shorter your workout period, the higher its intensity should be.
Strength is one of the keys to success in lacrosse, and strength can be best developed through a properly organized weight-training program. Players are hit into the boards going after loose balls; they are cross-checked hard across their upper body and arms to stop them from going to the net; they are slashed by a lacrosse stick to steal the ball; they are stopped from cutting into the middle of the floor to score. In all these situations, weight training will help players improve their performance by increasing their endurance, their flexibility, their agility, their running speed, and their overall physical strength. Weight training also helps to prevent injuries.
As with any training that you take on, keep a record or chart your progress, as well as to motivate you to greater heights.
Mentally preparing for lacrosse
Being in game-shape includes a mental challenge for lacrosse players. You should be able to stay in the "zone" that encourages great performance. Here are a few tips to get started:
Be positive. Lacrosse is, after all, a game, and your mental attitude toward it should be a positive one. Remember, too, that it's easy to stay positive when you're winning; the tough part is staying positive after losing or after making mistakes. It's all part of the lacrosse learning curve.
Accept the challenge. Look forward to each upcoming game, to the challenge of the opponent (both your team's opponent and any particular individual opponent you have in mind), and to the fundamentals of the conflict ahead.
Plan for success. Find a lacrosse player who anticipates that each game will be a good game, and you'll find a successful lacrosse player.
Use your nervousness. You should try to calm and quiet your mind before the game. However, it's also okay to feel a little bit nervous (but not overly so). Use your nerves to help you get physically energized and ready to play; let your mind keep things loose.
Have fun. Lacrosse is a game. Enjoy yourself.
The result of these good feelings is that you get into what is called the zone. Being in the zone means that you play alert and can anticipate things before they happen — all the activity around you seems to happen in slow motion. Your mental focus is totally absorbed in playing the game and blocking out all distractions. You play with self-confidence, and you're emotionally controlled. Being in the zone helps you play the game effortlessly, and you react by instinct.
Fitness experts recommend drinking 8 to 16 ounces of water 2 hours before a workout, and another 8 to 16 ounces 30 minutes before exercising. When you’re working out for more than 30 minutes you’ll need to drink another 3 to 6 ounces of liquid every 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re working at a high intensity, you may need 6 to 12 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes, especially if you’re exercising in high heat and humidity, which can dehydrate you in as little as 15 minutes.
For people exercising for more than 60 minutes, at a high intensity, or both, sports drinks do offer some benefits. These drinks provide both carbohydrates and electrolytes. The carbohydrates, typically glucose, fructose, or fructose, help delay muscle fatigue while the electrolytes help move fluids quickly into the bloodstream and replace some of the sodium lost in sweat. Fruit juices contain too much carbohydrate in the form of fructose, or fruit sugar, which can reduce the rate of water absorbed by cells. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, such as soda and coffee. Caffeine is diuretic, meaning it pulls water from the bloodstream.
The body loses a significant amount of fluid during exercise and staying adequately hydrated is important for both performance and safety. Mild dehydration can cause dry mouth, headaches, weakness, and fatigue, and cramps. People who become severely dehydrated need immediate medical attention. Extreme thirst, no urine output, fainting or dizziness, a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and confusion are symptoms of severe dehydration. To prevent dehydration it’s important to drink before you become thirsty. That’s why you need to load up on liquid before a workout. Once you start to lose fluid it can hard be hard to take in enough liquid to stay hydrated. Water and sports drinks are your best choices for hydration, so drink up!