August 24, 2009

Straight Shooters: Get in the Zone with Zash

by Matt Zash | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Zash Archive

Got a question for Matt Zash? E-mail or click here to submit questions on our site.

© Joe Rogate

My son (11) seems to freeze up when put into situations where "the heat is on." Although he is only 11, he has always played club and/or travel at the "A" level. Any suggestions?

- Rod Bangert, Parkton, Md.


It sounds like your son could benefit from some mental sports training. Specifically, simulation training.

During practice, your son’s coach should create stressful situations that simulate similar pressures one would experience in a game. Bryant University head coach, Mike Pressler, uses a series of mini intrasquad scrimmages to accomplish this goal.

For example, one scrimmage could start with the blue team down by two with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Immediately after, the next scrimmage starts with the blue team up by one with two minutes left to play. Both scenarios simulate game-like pressures, but the strategies are entirely different.

Through simulation training and repetition, you can train your team to remain poised and focused during otherwise high-pressure situations. 

If just your son has trouble adapting to high-pressure situations, then I would recommend additional focus exercises. There are many different strategies to get oneself “in the zone." Self-repeated mantras, verbal cues, physical cues, etc., all help to redirect one’s focus from any outside stress to just the task at hand.

For more information on these strategies and overall mental training, I suggest you read In Pursuit of Excellence: How to Win in Sport and Life through Mental Training, by Dr. Terry Orlick. Enjoy!


What advice would you give to a middle-school middie wanting to step up his game?
- Micah Beutell, Northfield, Ohio

One sure way to step up your game is by making the commitment to practice and work out on your own. Here are some tips on how to get infinitely better.

Lacrosse skills:
No matter what level you’re at, stick skills can always use improvement. Shoot 200 balls every other day and practice on the wall for 30 minutes afterwards. Find a fellow long pole or middie to practice one-on-ones.  There’s only so much “lacrosse stuff” you can do on your own.   

Conditioning: Train smarter. Running three miles straight provides little benefit to a midfielder who’s constantly sprinting and changing direction during a game. Add interval training (a series of sprints with short rest times in between) into your workout regimen. This will help enhance your anaerobic and aerobic capabilities. Work on your foot speed as well. Buy a good jump rope; it won’t break the bank. Also, it doesn’t take much to make your own agility ladder. (Google "DIY agility ladder.") 

Weights: Know the difference between training for the beach and training for lacrosse. Bicep curls make you look good, but when it comes to lacrosse, they just make your arm pads tighter. 
Here’s a list of weighted exercises to get you started...

* Squats, dumbbell deltoid raises, lat pull downs, dumbbell incline bench, Romanian dead lifts, dumbbell lunges, dumbbell upright rows, dumbbell triceps extensions, bar bell wrist curls.

* Keep the weight low enough so you can get at least 10 reps. 

And some body weight exercises…

* back extensions, calf raises, Russian twists, planks, sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups 

Please consult a physical education teacher for any terms you do not understand.  Also, I recommend having one critique your form before actually lifting weights. These professionals are there to help you and their services are free. Use them. 



We get questions all the time to which, frankly, we don't have the answers. Luckily, we've got four pros on hand.

Matt Zash, a former Duke All-American, currently plays for the NLL's New York Titans and MLL's Long Island Lizards. He also owns and operates The Lax Hut, a chain of lacrosse retail stores based in New York. Lindsey Biles a former Princeton All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist, ranks second all-time among scorers there. Rashad Devoe is a lacrosse-specific strength and conditioning coach that has worked with some of the best players in the country for over 13 years. Nathaniel Badder is the officials training and education manager for US Lacrosse.

Need advice? Click here to submit questions to our "Straight Shooters."


comments powered by Disqus

More Headlines