When it comes to lacrosse, speed, endurance and agility play a significant role in delivering a great performance. To be the best offensive player, the combination of superior speed and exceptional dodging makes you blow past any type of defense that’s possible. It’s hardly an overstatement to say speed is the centerpiece of the puzzle in lacrosse. Therefore, in this post, I would like to answer the question, why is speed so important in lacrosse.
Speed plays an important role both in and out of a lacrosse game. Prior to practice and matches, every player should indulge in some common lacrosse speed drill. This will help you engage your neurological system (before a game) for adequate control and balance. It’s important to not only focus on speed practice during training but also during pre-game warmup. Therefore, in this post, we are going to cover the importance of speed in lacrosse along with a few drills for your reference.
5 Reasons Why Speed is Important in Lacrosse
Speed makes you faster and better in a lacrosse game, but that only scratches the surface in terms of its importance. Below are a few crucial reasons why laxers put a lot of emphasis on speed, yet not necessarily weight and height.
#1 Greater Likelihood of Scoring More Shots
There’s nothing more powerful than having a good speed with the ability to turn and twist. When you can swiftly change directions and deceive your opponents, you have gained an advantage over your defense by creating space to take the open shot.
Had you ever tried to bulldoze your way into the defense line, you would understand how frustrating it is to even get one open shot before the ball gets stolen by defensive players.
By being super fast with your dodging, you are able to storm by defenders who are already one or two steps behind you. The ability to be deceiving could also give you a psychological advantage. As they are afraid of losing you, defenders will react even slower. By the time they understood your intention, you are most likely already in a 1-v-1 with the goalie. If anything, good speed is the closest attribute that can be translated to scoring more goals.
#2 For the Defense to Stop the Dodger
So now we know the secret to scoring more goals is speed, but can it also help with defense?
The answer is a big yes. In fact, it carries equal importance, if not more, to the defensive players.
Understand it this way: if you are facing a wickedly fast opponent, you have to be at least on his pace. Else, you are subject to leaving a wide space behind once the attacker zips past you. By having a good speed, you don’t lose your position and can eventually disrupt the offense play as offensive players wear out.
In addition, good speed makes you less likely to receive penalties as you don’t need to throw forceful checks to make up for losing your position. In other words, to play smart requires good speed.
#3 To Save Potential Goals After a Defensive Slide
If you are a professional lacrosse player, you would know the importance of a defensive slide. It’s a move taken by defenders when the offensive player burned their teammate. A defender leaves their position and slides by to save their teammate from the offensive player. While they do so, another defensive player steps in and takes their position. This complete process has to be quick else the offensive player may score a goal.
That’s because, between the defensive slide and position swap (with another defender), the defense is vacant. Therefore, this is an excellent opportunity for the offense to score a goal. If the other defender does not step in speedily, it will be tough to stop a score. However, if they do, they will save the goal.
To learn more about sliding, check out this post.
#4 For Off-ball Offense
In lacrosse, the off-ball offense is where you use trickery and speed to score a goal. (Mind you, it’s not just the trickery alone!) The offense has to step in speedily for an off-ball cut and score the goal instantly. The beauty of this move is that it gets the defense all baffled. But of course, promptness is the key. It’s important for the offense to reach the spot, take their position, and place a shot right away!
You (player at offense) have to be aware of any possible scoring chances and combine them with your speed. If you don’t do so, the defender may get the opportunity to reach the potential goals.
#5 To Seize the Loose Balls
Loose balls (also called ground balls) are like a golden opportunity for either team. Whichever team gets them has a better chance of earning extra offensive possessions. As offensive possessions decide who wins over who, players have to be as tenacious and rapid as the leopard to catch the loose balls.
Of course, you wouldn’t be alone competing to get the loose ball. Your offender will be equally interested to get the same. So, who would win? The one who is quicker, smarter, and dynamic! This tactic could work wonders when it’s a tie match. No double-dealing or tricks, a fight for ground balls could end up determining the winner of the game.
To illustrate the benefit of having a good speed when fighting for ground balls:
3 Lacrosse Speed Drills/Agility Training To Increase Your Lacrosse Speed
To ensure acceleration and swiftness, you can perform specific speed drills and agility training. Not only will it help you get faster, but it will also improve your athleticism and recovery time. Additionally, it will reduce injuries risk and maintain mind-body connection. Here are the best speed drills you should do:
Note: If you are a lacrosse beginner with little prior exercise experience, modify the drills with your coach. Do not start any exercise or training without professional assistance.
#1 Bulgarian Split Squat
Bulgarian split squat is a great way to step up your lower body training. Besides building your agility, it’s a useful drill to increase the core strength. Its recurrent practice ensures you do not fall down when pushed or targeted by another player. This cut down any resistance during the game. To perform this drill:
- Keep one leg on the bench behind you
- Start squatting with the help of your other knee (the one that is not on the bench)
- Make sure that the leg on the bench touches the ground
- Once it does, get back to your initial position by pushing up the front leg
#2 Sled Push
Sled Push is efficient for improving both your speed and strength. It’s a drill where you have to push a sled for some distance at a given time. This drill helps burn calories while also increasing your cardiovascular stamina. You will be working on your complete body, including abs, calves, glutes, etc.
The process is simpler than it sounds! Add some weights to the Prowler sled and stay behind the same. Now, hold the bars with one hand and bend through your waist. Move your legs and push the sled forward.
#3 Alternate Leg Bounding
Alternate leg bounding routines majorly target the glutes, calves, and outer thighs to improve your speed. Besides that, it also makes you more dominant in the mandatory explosive movements of lacrosse (for ex: changing directions).
To perform the alternate leg bounding drill, run with long steps (in the forward direction). Next, balance on one leg and then jump ahead. Make sure you land on the other leg on jumping. Finally, use your arm swings and alternative legs and repeat the motion.
If you can walk away with one thing from this post is the fact that speed is the secret weapon that unlocks the next level of your gameplay.
Start consistently doing the drills mentioned above to improve your speed if you haven’t already. When linear speed blends with efficient skills, it can work as a game-changer. If you also wonder which position in lacrosse matches your skill sets the most, click on this post where I break down each position and what type of player is the best fit for each.