May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008

Straight Shooters Home

Q: My son is a good lacrosse player, one year away from high school. What are some good conditioning exercises that he could do over the summer to improve his strength and conditioning?

David Wagner, Pasadena, Md.

A: If your son only plays lacrosse in the spring, I would absolutely recommend a brief period of "de-training" after a long, grueling season. Your son should stay in shape, but he should not be in playing condition year-round. Overtraining eventually leads to burnout, a physiological condition that could make your son more susceptible to injury.

I recommend a less rigorous period of cross training. Encourage your son to participate in physical activities other than lacrosse, like pick-up hoops, mountain biking, beach volleyball, surfing, yoga, kickboxing or swimming. These activities could also help improve areas of his game he doesn't normally focus on, like balance, core strength and footwork.

Once fall rolls around, your son should start his strength and conditioning regime. As a blanket recommendation, I would advise at least three days a week of cardiovascular training and three days a week of resistance training.

I believe in a sport-specific strength and conditioning plan. Lacrosse requires explosive power, agility and endurance. Running five miles at a seven-minute-per-mile pace will not make your son a better lacrosse player; it will make him a better cross-country runner. Interval training would be more specific to his needs. Try a series of sprints at 50-, 100-, 200-, and 400-meter intervals, with short 30-second rests between each. This workout has both anaerobic and aerobic elements that imitate the type of running one does in a lacrosse game. The total distance traveled need not exceed 2.5 miles. To intensify the training, shorten the rest periods or increase the number and/or length of the sprints.

In the weight room, get away from the machines and barbell exercises, and start using dumbbells. Dumbbells help enhance the body's stabilizer muscles and have other neuromuscular benefits. Mix in plyometrics (box jumps, agility ladder) and power lifts (power cleans, hang cleans) to break up the monotony of strength exercises (squats, bench presses, triceps extensions, lat pulls).

Matt Zash

"Straight Shooters" is a US Lacrosse-produced advice series that runs every Sunday in the Baltimore Sun and on The series can also be found here on Lacrosse Magazine Online at

Matt Zash was a two-time All-American midfielder at Duke, graduating in 2006. He plays professional lacrosse for the MLL's Philadelphia Barrage and the NLL's New York Titans. Zash was a member of the 2003 U.S. under-19 men's world championship team and played for Team USA in the 2007 Indoor World Lacrosse Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He owns and operates the Lax Hut, a chain of lacrosse retail stores.

E-mail your questions to Zash at

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