September 18, 2007

Sept. 18, 2007

Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of Lacrosse magazine in July 2007. If there's a topic you'd like to see covered in the "Classroom," e-mail section editor Matt DaSilva at

by Matt DaSilva, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

These last five months have taken a toll. You've worked hard on your lacrosse game, and you've got the tendonitis to prove it. Practices after school, games during the weekend, individual work in between -- let's face it, you're burned out.

Take a load off.

Check that: take a load off, but don't put a load on.

"I used to put my lacrosse stick away for the summer, if I wanted to get away from it," says Long Island Lizards and two-time Team USA midfielder Blake Miller, who spent his summers competing in triathlons. "Nowadays, it's hard."

With it being camp and recruiting season, the temptation might be to never put your stick down. And while lacrosse camps are valuable -- "It's not so much the playing as it is the coaching you get," Miller says -- you need not go to all of them. Miller, who also coaches in a Manhasset (N.Y.) youth league, instructs his players to attend a maximum of two camps, and to otherwise work on their individual stick skills (wall ball, shooting) once a week.

Beyond that, you'd be surprised how some standard summertime activities can benefit your lacrosse game. Miller, who has experience as a trainer, cites a few.

Swimming: "My oldest brother was a big-time swimmer," he says. "Until I got into college, it was swimming in the summertime. It got me away from the weights a little bit. If you do it in the ocean, it's actually as good as lifting. It works every part of your body."

Even if you're land-locked, take it to the pool. Shooters: it can help build your rotational core. D-poles: you can develop upper-body strength to keep those meathead attackmen from backing you down. Dodgers: you'll feel much lighter on your feet after dragging them through the water for a season.

Hiking: "One summer, Conor Denihan and I ran up the Grand Canyon, eight miles, on a family trip. He was going into his senior year (at Johns Hopkins) and I was getting ready for World Team tryouts," Miller says.

"You're not even thinking about lacrosse. It was nothing to do with it." This is another one of those fitness-builders that takes you out of the concrete-jungle weight room where your coach forced you to lift three days a week.

Baseball: Yep, you read it right. Lacrosse's springtime nemesis might provide a good summer respite, and help develop hand-eye coordination in the meantime.

"I love going to the batting cage in the summertime," Miller says. "An automatic pitcher pitching 75 miles an hour -- they say one of the hardest things to do is hit a fastball."

Basketball: Pick-up basketball offers a good departure from lacrosse, but keeps your mind sharp in terms of field awareness and instincts. The sports are remarkably similar in their spacing.

"Guys in the MLL play pick-up basketball," Miller says. "Guys who work on Wall Street, they'll go to the New York Athletic Club and play basketball. [Jay] Jalbert does that."

There are countless other lax-less summer activities that you can rest assured will continue to develop you as a lacrosse athlete: try tennis to better your change-of-direction footwork; or golf to get rid of the hitch that sends your shot slicing over the cage; or do your parents a favor and knock out some of those hedges in the yard (it'll clear a spot to shoot on).

So after a season of player tips and individual instruction, the "Lacrosse Classroom" this month offers this: give it a rest and do something else for a change. It'll benefit you in the long run.
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