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Speed For Lacrosse (What You Need To Know)

Speed isn’t what you think it is.

“Speed” isn’t just being able to run fast.

Hell no.

It’s much more than that.

There are many types of speed, just like there are many types of strength.

Unfortunately, this is frequently misunderstood.

Let me share a few things essential to speed that are important to be successful in the game of lacrosse.

This is not everything that speed consists of, but these are some of the big concepts for lacrosse.

1-TOP-END SPEED

Top-end speed is typically what you think of when you think to yourself “man, she’s fast.”

You see the athlete run sprint down the field and leave the defender in the dust.

This is top-end linear speed.

But the thing about top-end speed is that’s not used as often as you think in lacrosse and it is not the most important type of speed.

I’ll explain this as we dig deeper here.

Those 40-plus yard runs aren’t the main type of running that’s needed for lacrosse because there are too many other things going on during a game.

While top-end speed is certainly important to be successful, there’s something that’s more important.

But it is top-end speed when we think of what speed is.

Top-end speed also requires endurance to sustain.

Endurance to run “all out” for a sustained distance. And, we’ll cover that soon.

Example: 

The midfielder who transitions from defense to offense taking the ball down the field on a perimeter clear run of 40 to 60 yards.

2-MULTI-DIRECTIONAL SPEED

Next, we have multi-directional speed which is extremely important for lacrosse players.

Multi-directional speed is the ability to express speed in different movements and different patterns that is not linear (straight ahead).

Athletes must be able to “cut on a dime” and change direction to other runs such as lateral, diagonal, backwards, or other combinations.

Multi-directional speed is speed in many different directions, which I would say is used more often than top-end speed.

Example:

A lateral shuffle or cross-over run while defending an offensive player. A backpedal to cover a driving attacker. A drop step to back away from a defender. These are some examples of multi-directional speed.

3-SPEED ENDURANCE (CONDITIONING)

Conditioning in the most simple definition is being able to hold up physically during a lacrosse game.

Conditioning is truly dependent on the needs of the sport. Remember that.

For lacrosse, we can also call this ‘speed endurance’ in lacrosse.

Ever hear a coach complain about their players “gassing out” during practice or game?

Well, that’s conditioning.

Athletes need the ability to do repeated runs during the course of a game – or tournament – without running out of steam. 

I believe that when you design and organize effective practices for your team, there is not a need for “extra” conditioning because you’ve done your practices correctly.

Conditioning and speed are actually separate entities, but they can be combined to some extent.

4-MANEUVERABILITY

Maneuverability, or you might think of this as agility, is the ability to move and change direction on the field.

I prefer the term maneurability because it’s a more accurate term to describe what players are doing on the field during a game.

And this is essential for both the offensive and defensive player.

There are many things needed to be able to successfully maneuver on the field, such as acceleration, footwork, strength, perception, and a high level of cognitive processing.

Example:  

A crease roll that turns into a dodge and run into the critical scoring area around defenders. 

5-ACCELERATION

Acceleration and the short sprints are by far the most important type of speed needed to be successful in lacrosse.

Acceleration is the 5, 10, and 20 yard sprints or bursts – that are used very often in lacrosse.

These short sprints are what occurs the vast majority of time in the game.

Think about it.

Acceleration is “burst, power, and explosiveness.”

By definition, acceleration is the ability to increase velocity over a given period of time.

The mechanics and forces in acceleration are also much different than top-end speed.

The better an athlete can get at learning to accelerate, the more successful he or she will be at lacrosse.

The great thing about acceleration is that it can be taught, trained, and improved on.

Example:  

The 10-yard burst up the middle going to cage. Or the curvilinear sprint around the 8-meter going to goal.

6-FOOTWORK

I saved this one for last.

I sort of organized this content into a hierarchy, from least important to most important.

We can argue I’m sure, but what I can tell you is that acceleration and footwork are literally top-tier qualities when it comes to being a successful lacrosse player.

Footwork is literally fast feet and has been described as “the way in which you move your feet.”

It’s the technical and neuromuscular ability to juke, move, step, or fake out your opponent.

Yes, the agility ladder can be a part of developing footwork, but only a small part.

Some athletes have natural footwork ability (or fast feet) and others need to be taught and trained.

I think we can learn a lot about footwork by studying football players – the wide receivers, running backs, and defenders.

Watch how they move their feet.

It’s footwork that makes them successful to beat their opponents. 

Example:

The stutter step or jump step when executing certain dodges. The “plant step” is a hallmark of executing footwork with precision and power. But footwork expands far and deep.

MORE ON FOOTWORK…

Footwork is so important that I almost can’t even describe it’s importance.

Footwork is king and I learned that from none other than The Footwork King, Rischad Whitfield.

Rischad is a true master and his methods are nothing short of spectacular.

While he works with NFL athletes, I believe his techniques and teachings can also be extrapolated to lacrosse athletes.

I couldn’t post his video here, but google “Footwork King” in YouTube and watch his video.

Then, you’ll better understand how important footwork is for athletes.


Are you a lacrosse athlete and want to learn and improve these speed attributes?

Reach out to me here.

Coach Scott

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