4 Change of Direction Drills Valuable to the Lacrosse Athlete

As the spring lacrosse season is upon us, we are prepping hundreds of lacrosse athletes for their up-coming season. While our goal is to not mirror the exact game of lacrosse, we utilize these drills in order to break down specific technique involved in the game in a controlled setting.

You will notice when we talk about agility through this article, there is no mention of agility ladders or complicated/rehearsed drills that are commonly seen on social media. These drills emphasize power production and reduction in ground contact time in order to move the body faster from point A to point B. Along with building reaction time, that is the true transfer of agility onto the field.

Lateral Shuffle to a Crossover Reach.

In a lateral shuffle drill that can seem as basic as it can be, I noticed Coach Matt June making a very slight, yet critical adjustment in the hand placement of the athletes. Notice when performing this drill when reaching to touch the cone with the same side hand you can notice how easy it is for the athlete to get lazy with their position and simply bend over to touch the cone.

Notice now when performing this drill with a cross-body reach with the opposite side hand. The change that this makes in the athletes position is massively different, and the latter mirrors the position we would deem optimal for sport. By crossing the body it forces the athlete to hinge at the hips and rotate through the mid-back, all while maintaining their universal athletic stance (Universal Athletic Stance = stable and upright chest + knees slightly tracking out + weight on the center foot if not slightly on the toes). 

Shuffle to Vertical to Shuffle

This drill is highly effective for any sport where one must utilize fast lateral movement in both a defensive and offensive positions. For example, if we watch this drill in real time, we can see how the vertical jump allows the athlete time to gain proprioception of when their foot is going to hit the ground. This offers a platform for the athlete to begin to decrease their ground contact time after landing. 

Say when we ask an athlete to split dodge (Split Dodge = A basic movement of offensive attack in lacrosse), the athlete must have incredible awareness of when their foot is going to make contact with the ground so that they can accelerate themself in the opposite direction. Simply put this drill teaches an athlete how to be faster out of their dodge.

Figure-8 Variations

We have found figure 8 drills to be incredibly effective in simulating play around the crease for both offensive and defensive players.

Acceleration to 180 Turn Deceleration (Advanced)

I began utilizing this drill with many lacrosse athletes as I realized this foot work can expose an athlete at incredibly high sprint velocity. A drill like this must be progressed, however by training this movement pattern in a controlled environment we can prepare the athlete to absorb these forces in a way that will greatly reduce the risk of injury on the playing field. During transition play in lacrosse (When there is a change in possession and the ball is moving to the opposite end of the field) athletes will often hit their max velocity sprint speed, which is very rare in sports other than track. In this play athletes have upwards of 60 yards of open field to reach max velocity sprint speed. During this phase the athlete is generating their peak forces during sprinting. These athletes must then stop on a dime and turn a complete 180 degrees to drop into a defensive position. By forcing an athlete to complete this footwork in a shorter distance, we reduce the speed and therefore the forces that they can generate while approaching the turn. As we progress this drill the athlete will take longer distances between turns, allowing them to generate more speed.

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