Tag Archives: agility

Endurance

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I’m not going to lie. One of the main reasons I took to defense was because I did not have to run very much. Every time I cleared the ball across the midfield line I prayed that the offense would hold onto it so I could catch my breath. I was fairly quick and athletic for my age, and I was not a fat-body, for lack of a better term. Quite honestly, I was a perfectly average young player but I neglected working on my endurance to the detriment of my game.

One of the definitions of endurance is: “the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.” Endurance is also known as stamina, but I think endurance sounds cooler so I’m sticking with it.

While midfielders are known for needing endurance the most on the lacrosse field, the truth is every player requires better endurance. Attackmen need to be quick and agile, but they need to be able to repeatedly make quick move after quick move. Defenseman must be able to react to fast players while moving backwards. The longer the ball stays in the defensive end, the sooner a good team will target a fatigued defender. Yes, even goalies require endurance, but they require more mental endurance than physical endurance. As the general of the defense, good goalies must beat back the mental fatigue of constantly knowing where the ball is, who is hot, and when to demand a slide.

So how do you build endurance? Simple answer – go for a run. Longer answer – integrate varying agility speed work drills with progressively longer runs. This will both improve your speed on the field, and beat back the beast of fatigue. The question becomes what should players in each age group be doing to build their endurance? Let’s break that down below.

U9 – These kids are perfectly fine doing whatever they are doing. Make sure they get to practice and games and they will do just fine. I do not believe there is much of a need to start a nine year old in any structured workout.

U11 – Awesome time to start jump roping and some short agility cone drills! These help build critical coordination skills necessary for lacrosse. Still not the time for distance running though.

U13 – Continue with jump roping and add in new, more challenging agility drills. Perhaps an agility ladder? Here is a great time to start one mile runs. A one mile run is exactly what it sounds like. Go out, run a mile, then walk back. Eventually the mile will become easier and easier and you’ll start wanting to run back.

U15 – Time to start an actual running program if you are serious about improving your overall cardiovascular strength and endurance.

U17 and beyond – You should definitely be running regularly by now, but if you haven’t started check out Runner’s World for some quality running plans and advice for new runners. I highly recommend their personal trainer running plans, they have gotten me race ready and ready for officiating each spring!

As a runner myself I find it strange that I used to hate running. The truth was, I never gave running a chance until about tenth grade, which coincided with taking my lacrosse game more seriously as well. If you are serious about being a lacrosse player you must also be serious about running. The old maxim, the legs feed the wolf is perfectly apt for just about every sport, but especially true for the fastest game on two feet.

Now, if you need a little bit of inspiration to start running, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Below is a trailer for the 1999 documentary “Running on the Sun.” I’ll let the trailer speak for itself:

Quick Feet Cone Drills

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I love cone drills. They can be as simple or as complicated as your imagination. Make a triangle, square, circle, semi-circle, or a bunch of zig-zags and you have a ready-to-go speed and agility drill.

Some of the drills in the video are ones I have done for many years. The others are from xlathlete.com’s — Cone Drills.

If you want to build quick feet, acceleration, and fast changes of direction you need to implement cone drills in your conditioning program. Lacrosse requires long-distance endurance, but playing offense and defense require more than endurance. They require being able to turn on a dime, sprint eight yards, catch the ball, turn around, and rip a shot. Practice the cone drills below and the cone drill PDF above, and you will see your speed and change-of-direction improve each month.

Remember to check out the Warm-Up and Agility Ladder Drill posts for a complete workout. Start with a warm-up, use the agility ladder, and wrap up with four to five cone drills repeated at least three times each. Follow that up with some easy stretching to cool your body down and you’ve done a quick conditioning workout that will pay off big time during the season.

Cheers,
Gordon

Agility Ladder Drills

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My first experience with the agility ladder was in ninth grade. I trained at a gym in Buford, GA five times a week, and every day we started with the agility ladder. Initially, I knocked around the ladder repeatedly, but I eventually got the hang of how to place my feet into each square as quickly as I could.

For any athlete interested in improving their foot speed and overall quickness, the agility ladder is a must have. Most sporting outlets sell them for around thirty dollars, but you do not need to buy one if you want. Just use chalk or duck tape on a flat surface and make 12-15 squares, about 20 inches wide.

Before we get into the agility ladder drills, there are a few rules:

  1. Don’t touch the ladder rungs with your feet! That is a penalty. You must do one pushup for every run you touch.
  2. Pump your arms! The more you move your arms the faster you can go.
  3. Start at a slow walking pace. These drills get complex quickly, and your body is not used to moving this way. Starting off at a comfortable pace lets your body familiarize itself with the motions.
  4. If you can, do these drills with a friend. A little competitiveness in this drill never hurts.

The drills in the video below follow a progression and should be done in order. Watch the video closely to see where your feet go in the ladder.

Ladder Drills:

  • Two Feet Per Square (just like it sounds)
  • One Foot High Knees (gets your knees above your hips)
  • Two Foot High Knees (gets your knees up and feet moving, this one is a little tougher than the above one)
  • One Foot In From Side (lead foot goes into square)
  • Double Feet From Side (lead foot goes into square followed by rear foot)
  • Quick Hops (both feet land in square at same time)
  • Slolam (side to side)
  • Hop Scotch (outside to inside)
  • Switch Hips (place your rear foot where your lead foot is, repeat down the ladder)
  • Two Foot Slides (like the first exercise, but your facing out and sliding)
  • Carioca (over, under, over)
  • Icky Shuffle (in, in, out, in, in, out)
  • Backwards Icky Shuffle (if you can do this one I salute you!)

I find it helpful to sound out where my feet go if I am having trouble with a drill. For instance, during the Icky Shuffle I say out loud “In, In, Out” over and over again. This technique focuses my mind on the task at hand, and I tend to do better in the drill.

If you have any questions about the agility ladder feel free to comment below. Stay tuned for Friday’s video of every cone drill you could think of.

Cheers, Gordon