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.
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.
I am back from my much needed summer vacation with more lacrosse insights, coaching strategies, and new videos!
This week is christened Agility Week. Each post will focus on specific speed/agility drills, designed to improve your footwork and overall athleticism. If you are serious about improving your game for the more competitive Spring Season, I highly encourage interested players to try these drills out. Start out slow until you get the basic motions down, then pick up the speed. The one exception is today’s video, the Dynamic Warm Up. You should not try to rush the warm up moves. They are specifically designed to get your legs used to extending and flexing in preparation for practice, and get your lungs used to breathing hard.
Players as young as fifth grade are welcome to partake in these drills, but they are designed for players in seventh grade or older. I am not a believer in structured agility training for players under seventh grade. If you are a younger player go out and run, play tag, or come up with your own drills. However, if you are dying to work on these drills I am not going to stop you. Just don’t feel like you must do these drills to compete. This is supposed to be fun at the end of the day.
The video below is a dynamic, or ballistic, warm up. Otherwise known as stretching through movement. The moves in the video should be done in order. The cones are set 12-15 yards apart. Players do one move to the cone, turn around, then do the same move back to the cone. A few seconds of rest should be included after each movement set.
Here are each of the drills in the video:
Quick Hops (keep your feet together, stay on your toes)
Knee Grabs (pull each knee into your chest slowly)
High Knees (knees must get above hips as quickly as possible, pump arms throughout exercise)
High Knee Skips (fight for vertical height)
Ankle Grabs (pull ankle towards your back slowly)
Butt Kicks (kick towards your butt as quickly as possible, pump arms throughout exercise)
Frankenstines (keep knee straight, kick leg up as high as possible)
Russian Walks (bring knee up then out)
Side Shuffle (get as low as possible, tap toes together)
Donkey Shuffle (get as low as possible, feet stay in same position)
Carioca (over, under, over under)
High Knee Carioca (rear leg powers up and over front leg)
Tapioka (same as carioca but only with feet, hips stay square)
Leaping Bounds (power off rear leg as far forward as possible, reset, then power off leg again)
This is a seven to ten minute warm up and is perfect for starting off a practice because it incorporates a lot of different movements that gets players comfortable moving in uncomfortable ways. Remember, don’t forget to pump your arms on the exercises that call for it. Watch the video and see how I keep my arms moving through almost every exercise. More on why pumping arms is important on Wednesday.
You may notice there are no static stretches in this warm-up. The reason is simple, kids want to move. Standing still to bend over and touch their toes is boring, but jumping up as high as they can is engaging. In twelve years of playing lacrosse I pulled a muscle one time because I stretched and did ballistic warm ups. To combine the best of both worlds, do a dynamic warmup before practice, then do static stretches for the last five minutes as a cool-down.
I wish I could count the number of players I have seen pull or tear a muscle but I do not have enough fingers and toes to count that high. Every year during the first week of practice someone howls in pain and frustration after a wind sprint because their calf seized up or their hamstring got pulled tighter than a guitar string. I played lacrosse for over ten years and I’ve run consistently for over three years. I have pulled my hamstring one time.
I stayed nearly injury free through all my athletic endeavors because of two things. I warm up and I stretch.
The importance of warming up and stretching cannot be overrated in my opinion if they are done properly. I list below a very simple and quick routine that players should do before a practice or game especially if it is cold outside.
Gordon’s Get Rocking Warm Up and Stretch Routine
High Knees Slowly, Stand in Place – 30 seconds
Run in Place – 30 seconds
High Knees Run in Place – 30 seconds
Heel Kicks Run in Place – 30 seconds
That is a brief two minutes. After that you should be breathing harder and feeling warm. Now we turn it up a notch.
Line Hops Left to Right – 15 seconds (as fast as you can)
Line Hops Forward and Back – 15 seconds (as fast as you can)
Now your legs from your calves to your butt should be good and warm. You should be breathing nice and hard and feeling good.
Legs wider than shoulder width bend at the waist and reach for the ground – 20 seconds
Right leg forward left leg back. Bend at waist over the straight left leg and try to touch your chin to your knee – 20 seconds
Repeat the above stretch with your right leg forward again try and touch your chin to your knee – 20 seconds
Grab your left ankle with your left hand behind your back and pull till you feel a stretch. Use your stick for balance – 20 seconds
Repeat the above stretch with your right leg. Use your stick for balance – 20 seconds
Get on hands and toes. Pitch your butt into the air like a tent and drive your right heel to the ground – 20 seconds
Repeat the above stretch this time driving your left heel to the ground – 20 seconds
If you did that warm up and stretch routine you spent just under five minutes while targeting your hips, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. That is five minutes of taking care of your body and lowering your chances of pulling a muscle during a game or practice. Feel free to add any moves you want to this routine but if you are going to do this do not go through the motions. Really give it your best to get a good stretch. Your body will thank you and you will hopefully have years of injury free lacrosse ahead of you.