A lacrosse training program must carefully balance the rigours of one of the most strenuous team sports. The sport requires the physical and performance qualities of most other sports combined.
Very few studies have been carried out on lacrosse athletes and little scientific information is available. From research that has been completed, it is clear that players must posses size, strength, power, speed, agility and endurance. Players are almost constantly moving as they attempt to manoeuvre the ball into the goal.
On the whole, players have been shown to have average aerobic capacities, similar to basketball and football players but less than distance runners or swimmers. Midfield players on the other hand, have significantly greater endurance than attackers or defensive players and their aerobic endurance compares favorably to more traditional distance athletes. This makes sense as midfielders are the only group of players permitted to move up and down the entire length of the pitch.
Lacrosse players require a high bodyweight to cope with the aggressive physical contact in the game. However, a higher than average bodyweight must be coupled with a low body fat percentage as players are required to manoeuvre quickly around the field of play. Lacrosse players tend to have a lower body fat percentage compared to other athletes such as football, basketball and ice hockey players.
From a conditioning point of view then, lacrosse players are one of the few groups of athletes that will benefit from a phase of hypertrophy strength training to increase lean muscle mass. However, size is not the only objective. Maximal strength, explosive power and power endurance are also important outcomes of a strength training program. Not surprisingly attackers and defensive players tend to have greater need for strength and power compared to midfield players.
All positions will benefit from both aerobic and anaerobic endurance training, and while this may be more predominant for the midfielders, attacking and defensive players could also improve their performance over 60 minutes with greater stamina.
Speed and agility training is also an important element of a lacrosse training program – for all positions. As with soccer or rugby for example, one of the challenges of designing a suitable lacrosse conditioning plan is combining all the required elements of fitness without one negatively affecting the other…
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