Lacrosse has become one of the fastest growing sports in the United States over the last decade and has spread from a predominantly east coast sport to a national sport with teams from California to New York and high schools everywhere in between adopting the sport.
Now that Spring is almost upon us, lacrosse tryouts and team selections are well underway. There are several areas where a lacrosse player, male or female, must prepare in order to not only perform well, but stand out. Let’s take a look at our top ways to prepare for a high school lacrosse game.
As a young athlete, it can be difficult to get into the right mind state before a game. There is a lot going on in your life and preparing mentally for an upcoming game can be a big task. There are several characteristics that every coach looks for in their athletes:
- Finishing every task or play, even if it doesn’t go perfectly
Everything isn’t going to go according to the plan. You may get down in the game, get a foul you didn’t agree with, or even have a frustrating turnover, but those that have the mind to overcome those miscues to finish every play or hustle to stop a point from being scored are those that will stand out.
- Encouraging and lifting up your teammates
It takes a very strong minded person to lift his or her teammates up when things aren’t going well or they make a mistake that costs the team. Letting your mind instead of your emotions take over in these situations will make you and your team better.
- Focus, even when you’re not in the game
When you’re out of the game, do you know what’s going on? Or are you distracted by other things? The best players, regardless of sport, are the players that pay attention to everything that is going on, even when they’re not playing. Never stop learning.
- The ability to will yourself to finish, even late in the game
Regardless of what your coach says, finishing late in a close game is not a matter of conditioning. It’s a matter of will. Do you have the strength and determination to give everything you’ve got with a minute left in the game and you’re exhausted? You can’t teach will and determination, it’s something you’ve got to push yourself to.
- Visualizing the game
Before you ever step foot on the field, take the time to “watch” the game before it happens. What will you do in each situation? How will you respond when you’re down? How will you respond when you’re up? What do you need to do to complete your job? Taking the time to relax and visualize your role and what you can do to help your team win will put your mind in the right state to compete.
Now, we may have said earlier that finishing late in a game isn’t a matter of conditioning, and we stand by that, but getting to that point is about conditioning. You can’t get through all 48 minutes, especially in such a condition focused sport, without taking the time and committing to your conditioning. While it’s likely that you’re doing a great deal of conditioning during the week at practice, if you want to be at the top of your game, we also recommend incorporating some low impact conditioning like swimming at least once or twice a week. Doing so will help your muscles repair from the strenuous week of practice and also improve your cardiovascular system allowing you to start and finish strong.
For regular conditioning, it’s important to also understand the differences between types of conditioning. While lacrosse players can run up to three to five miles per game, it’s not all at once. Training completely for distance is a mistake. Typically, this three to five miles is broken down into 20 to 50 yard sprints. Training to run three to five miles at once is much different than training to run a game’s worth of 20 to 50 yard sprints.
Now, running up to five miles in a single game is no joke. That is a lot of ground to cover and if your body is not hydrated enough to handle it, you could be in for a world of trouble ranging from cramps to heat stroke. You should start hydrating the week before a game and trying to get at least 64 ounces of water in your system per day, especially if the weather is going to be hot at the game.
The day of the game, you should drink 16 ounces of water when you wake up and another six to eight ounces 15-30 minutes before the game. Sports drinks during the game can also be a great source of hydration as well as carbohydrates to get you through a long game.
Any athlete that has ever played lacrosse will understand that the amount of running that a lacrosse player does during the course of one game is a lot to handle. You need to make sure that your muscles are ready to take that kind of beating. Common lacrosse injuries include muscle pulls of the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors. These muscles need to be loose and ready to handle the load that you’re going to put on them.
We recommend static stretching throughout the week immediately after practice and static stretching each morning to help remove any lactic acid that has built up. Just before the game, it’s important to warm up all of your muscles with a series of dynamic stretches targeted at each of these muscles. Listen to your body, if the team stretches that are done before the game don’t feel like enough for you, do some extra stretching on your own. Listen to your body. Unsure of when to use static and dynamic stretching? Check out our blog post on When to Use Dynamic Stretching vs Static Stretching.
Now that you’re ready for your game, it’s time to start thinking about the rest of your season. How will you help your muscles recover day-to-day in order to stay healthy all season? Check out our FREE Day-to-Day Muscle Recovery Checklist and have a season to remember!