Guest Post: 5 Lacrosse Life Lessons

Check out my guest post at TeamSnap today for 5 life lessons young men and women can learn from playing lacrosse!

It’s off-season time for spring lacrosse and you want to make sure to get the most out of your training! While you’re here, check out my off-season training resources for lacrosse and drop me a comment if you have any questions.

6 Fundamental Skills for Lacrosse

General Off-Season Guide

2015 Off-Season Conditioning Plan

Footwork and Agility Drills

Basic Stickwork Demo

All Lacrosse Articles

Hip Health for Athletes

There are a number of chronic and acute pains and injuries in sports that result from a problem in the hips.



The hip girdle is quite complex, with its four directions of motion and dozens of muscles inserting, attaching, and acting on the various structures. However, don’t get bogged down in complex analyses of each individual muscle and joint. There are a few common practices that most athletes would benefit from in their training to enjoy happy and healthy hips for a long career and great performances.


6 Footwork & Agility Drills for Lacrosse

Summer season is a great time for lacrosse players everywhere to focus on developing some general athletic qualities. Without school, most players have plenty of time on their hands. You almost can’t get enough of wall ball, footwork, and agility drills. For one, they aren’t as physically stressful as a conditioning session or strength training. In order for agility drills to be effective, you can’t do them in a highly fatigued state where motor patterns break down, as you’ll end up ingraining bad movement habits. Ideally, you could do multiple short sessions of agility work and wall ball several times a day without incurring much physical fatigue.

I’ve written before on Footwork and Agility in Lacrosse, with examples of basic drills in the 4-cone box, M, and chair pattern. Here are some more variations and drills to add in to your lacrosse footwork training.

Remember, not all agility drills are designed for 1-to-1 carryover to a lacrosse game. Just like you learn to drive in a parking lot before merging on to the freeway, you need to develop fundamental athletic movement skills in order to demonstrate those skills in a dynamic environment. I picked the first four drills for their ability to allow the athlete to practice basic athletic movement in a controlled environment (think “parking lot”). It’s vital to have these skills down before moving to the final two drills where the athlete has to apply those in a more dynamic environment (“freeway”). (more…)

5 Tips for New Coaches

I have enjoyed connecting the dots on my young coaching career. A few of these dots are:

  • Dad buys me a used bench and concrete weights at age 12-13. We have to keep a training log for karate promotions, so I begin journaling my training as my middle school best friend and I do endless variations of bench press and arms exercises. I get bit by “the iron bug” and build the early habit of the training log.
  • Despite no real experience, knowledge, or accomplishments, I become “the guy” in high school writing training programs for himself and anyone who wants one. I latch on to my high school strength and conditioning class teacher and coach. He supervises my senior project after I change interests from sociology/criminal justice to “undecided,” and I do my presentation on strength training for rowing.
  • I play club lacrosse in college and become the de facto team strength and conditioning coach, organizing weight-room and agility and conditioning sessions.
  • I work with a few rowers at my student job and run into them in the weight-room during a lacrosse session. They jump in and I start working with a few of them individually. I decide to major in kinesiology because I enjoy sports and training.
  • Because I’m in the weight-room so much, actual coaches and athletes start assuming I know what I’m doing. The undergrad kinesiology program is backed up, so thanks to one of these connections, I fulfill my year-long internship requirement with the varsity track and field team before I actually begin coursework.
  • I’m giving advice and coaching to 5-6 rowers at this point, and a few of them become team captains/cabinet members. They talk to their coach about strength training and I officially become the team strength coach.
  • I overhear my former lacrosse teammate and then-roommate talking on the phone with the head coach of a new lacrosse program he’s coaching, lamenting their struggles to find a JV assistant coach. I sign my coaching contract the next week.
  • I have a job at a local gym after I graduate. I work it for a while and things don’t work out, so I take a desk job. I have a lot of time, so I start a website so that my high school lacrosse players and college rowers can find technique videos and training resources.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve said things to athletes that I’ve regretted, missed plenty of opportunities, skipped on readings that I should’ve read in school, called plays that didn’t work out, and done some dumb things in the weight-room. I’ve learned a lot from these, and I know I’ll make more and learn from those too.

I’ve also done a few things right that I think would help a new coach. (more…)

Off-Season Training for Lacrosse

While many athletes are rolling straight from spring lacrosse to summer club ball, others will have the next few months away from structured sport. Off-seasons are critical to long-term success as valuable time to lay a foundation of strength, size, speed, and athletic fundamentals. Year-round structured sports can lead to overuse injuries, burnout, and failure to maximize potential by depriving athletes of off-season training.

I’ve written many times over the last year about the value of an off-season and how to train during off-seasons to maximize success and potential. Rather than write this all again, here is the collection of off-season resources and links all in one place. A few notes: (more…)

Six Fundamental Physical Skills for Lacrosse

Every sport relies on a foundation of basic skills that must be mastered for continuing improvement. As the level of play improves from youth to JV to varsity to college to professional, individual ability becomes less about how strong your strengths are and more about how strong your weaknesses are. A player with one very strong strength may be able to rely on that at lower levels of the game, but will struggle to keep up with teammates and opponents if he does not also improve his weaknesses.

Relying on one pet dodge, pet shot, or takeaway check will only be successful for so long. Players who want long-term success will dedicate themselves to improvement in the following six fundamental skills.


Sport Specialization Is Not the Answer

Will Ruth

I posted an article on Facebook a month ago summarizing many of the problems with youth sports and explaining a few ways that youth and high school coaches could improve the situation. The article was “Does Youth Sports Get the Math All Wrong?” by John O’Sullivan from the Changing the Game Project. Many commenters on the article agreed, but one nonbeliever stuck out. They said, “How do you expect part-time HS coaches to actually do any of this?” and suggested that it would be, “like a Harvard Skytte prize-winning professor coming to 3rd grade to teach quantum physics.”

I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and haven’t gotten a Skytte prize for either of them, but here’s what this part-time HS coach does. First, let’s cover research-based evidence of youth sport specialization vs. non-specialization, or “multilateral” development.

#1: “Don’t force, expect, or encourage early specialization”

I encourage all of my athletes to play other sports in the off-season. I don’t leave the “why” up to them—expecting children or HS athletes to read between the lines is a road to frustration. I always played multiple sports, so I talk about what I personally learned and how I applied it from sport to sport. Lead them through it and draw comparisons between their sport and others. Most young athletes won’t see the strategic similarities between soccer and lacrosse or similar skillsets between wrestling and football until you explain it a bit. (more…)

Overtraining, Part II

Will Ruth

In All About Overtraining, we discussed common symptoms and causes of overtraining. To repeat, overtraining shouldn’t be feared, but it is important to understand the symptoms and possible solutions to make training adjustments. A lack of understanding of the balancing act of training and recovery can lead to needless frustration. I have experienced it myself, and seen it in other athletes. Times aren’t improving, body mass is decreasing, the constant feel of being sore and fatigued—rather than get caught in the frustrating loop of not knowing what minor training variable has gone wrong, take a look at your training and recovery more broadly. This part will discuss some other training considerations with regard to overtraining.

First, what do athletes who must maintain a certain bodyweight for a weight-class sport do? The subject of lightweights is complicated and made more so by issues of competitiveness at higher levels and college scholarships. I will say that there is a common misconception in many weight-class sports that lighter is always better. I wrestled and rowed lightweight in high school and can tell you that this is not always the case, especially for younger athletes. I would encourage any athlete under 18-years old to compete lightweight for no longer than it is comfortable to maintain that weight. At the point where calorie restriction and weight-cutting measures beyond slight day-of restrictions are necessary, it may become detrimental to performance in both the short and long-term, as the mental and physical cost of cutting weight becomes greater than the benefit of competing in a lighter class. (more…)

Pre-Season Conditioning Plan for Lacrosse


See you in March! [Photo Mike Gannon]

Will Ruth

The pre-season is the time to take all of your hard off-season work and get ready to go for the competitive season. This plan is written with the expectation that you followed the off-season conditioning plan or played another sport and are also lifting weights on your own. Increasing your strength and power will do great things for your conditioning, injury prevention, max speed, and on-field physicality. More info about strength training and my recommended programs here.

The difference between the pre-season plan and the off-season plan is the distances and reps for each sprint. In the off-season, conditioning largely focuses on building an aerobic base with longer distances of running. In the pre-season, we want to maintain that aerobic base while building more power and speed. The pre-season plan is more specific to the demands of your position. If you’re an attack or defender, the bulk of the sprint work is between 10 and 40 yards for at least 5 sprints per distance to reflect more of what the game looks like for you. If you’re a midfielder, your distances are longer (30-50 yards) but the number is lower. You run longer distances, but sub off more frequently.

Just like in the off-season plan, each day starts with:

  1. 3-5 minutes of jogging or jump rope to warm up
  2. Dynamic stretches
  3. 3-4 footwork drills from the Footwork & Agility article and video demo
  4. Conditioning program for that day


All About Overtraining

Will Ruth

Main Takeaways

  1. Overtraining comes in two main forms, chronic and acute. Chronic overtraining is fairly rare and traumatic, but acute overtraining has broader symptoms and affects many athletes.

  2. Acute overtraining can be caused by training with too high frequency, intensity, and/or volume, or by failing to recover sufficiently from training via sleep, diet, and lifestyle.

  3. Overtraining is not to be feared, but recognizing overtraining symptoms is key to better managing your training, recovery, performance, and mental state.

The Internet pendulum swings rapidly on the subject of overtraining, and a brief survey on the topic will reveal attitudes both of constant fear of overtraining even in the lowest volume training situations and macho “there’s no such thing as overtraining” attitudes. The reality lies somewhere in the middle and the polarity of opinion is mostly the result of a lack of understanding of what overtraining actually is.

First, let’s clear up what overtraining is not. Overtraining is not overreaching. Overreaching is a strategic training period as part of a taper cycle when fatigue will be incurred past a recoverable level. Many athletes will experience this as a natural part of a training traincycle. This period is strategic, intentional, and should be carefully monitored by the coach and athlete. The athlete overreaches for a short period of time (2-3 weeks) during which time fatigue is very high and performance is diminished, then training is scaled back for another short period of time (1-2 weeks) to allow for recovery before a peak performance. This is the strategy of tapering to produce an immediate short-term spike in performance for a peak event.

Overtraining is different from overreaching in that it is not strategic, does not have a performance purpose, and is the result of a mistake or error on behalf of the coach or athlete.