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Keys to Lacrosse Player Greatness

1) Focus On Your Legs

The Reason:
Many of the greats have always mentioned some combination of speed, quickness, endurance and strength. This is no coincidence. Great lacrosse players have to be able to run hard, run fast, and do it all day. Knowing where to be, or what to do, means nothing if your legs can’t get you there.
The Answer:
Run. When you think you’ve run enough, run some more. Distance is ok, sprints are ok, interval training is ok. Running around on a field with a stick, picking up a ground ball and sprinting down the field, and then repeating that for 20 minutes? Well that’s just ideal. You’re working your legs and doing so with a stick in your hands.

When you’re done running, do some bodyweight lunges and squat jumps. Beat your legs up when you train and come game time, you’ll be in great shape. Literally.

The other part of the answer is to stretch and be flexible. Lacrosse puts an incredible amount of strain on your body, so make sure you are limber and flexible. Spend 10 minutes stretching out your legs and core each morning. More flexibility means a greater range of motion, and more speed and power.

2) Be A Tough Player

The Reason:
The greats ALL mention toughness – mental and physical – as key traits, and yet none of these guys are "fighters", or "big hitters". They can hit big, but it’s not what they are known for. Being tough isn’t about being a tough guy at all. It’s about being able to take it, and dish it out, but all in the quest of winning the game. Getting slashed and then turning around and pushing the guy who just slashed you doesn’t make you tough. Getting slashed and going hard to the cage anyway does make you tough. This is where being "scrappy" really comes into play. A scrapper isn’t a thug, they just go out and give it 100% at all times. There is no quit in these types of players, and it is almost impossible to get in their head as an opponent. They play to win.
The Answer:
Take pride in your bruises and keep your eyes on the prize. When an opponent hacks you in a game but you come up with the ball, don’t complain. Relish the moment and make them pay by burning them for a goal. Want to "learn" how to do this? It’s simple… make a conscious decision to act this way ALL THE TIME. In practice, in class, in life.

This one is all about personal responsibility, accountability and the ability to control yourself, and is one of the most important life skills one can learn via this sport. There is no shortcut to toughness. It’s earned through effort and attitude.

3) Be Versatile

The Reason:
Each and every midfield great we talked to mentioned some variation of speed, and they all talked about toughness. But they also hit on the ideal lacrosse player’s ability to do it all, be versatile, or just be awesome. A great lacrosse player can ride, play defense, clear the ball, and then play offense in the span of less than a minute, and the diversity of skills required to do this well is almost staggering. There are just so many aspects of the game to master! But to be truly great, you simply have to be able to do it all. It’s just the way the game is played by the best.
The Answer:
This is a great opportunity to ask for a little help. Seek out one of your coaches, and ask them what the biggest "holes" are in your game. Do you dodge well but struggle to shoot on the run? Do you play good defense but miss ground balls? What aspects of your game need the most improvement? Ask for honesty, and be prepared to hear things you don’t want to hear. Then get to work!

How do you get to work when there is so much to do? You have to train intelligently. If your coach tells you that you need to work on shooting, ground balls and your weak hand, and then you spend 3 hours working on your time and room sidearm shot, then you are cheating yourself. Stick to fundamentals and train intelligently. Spending 1 hour on wall ball with your off hand, 1 hour of pass with a friend while you run around, and 1 hour of shooting on the run off a ground ball pick-up would be better.

Want to be a diverse lacrosse player? Train in a diverse manner.

To Sum Up…

Being a great lacrosse player requires you to be in great shape, and you have to be tough. You need to be able to do it all and do it all consistently well. Becoming a great lacrosse player doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something you work for constantly. But once that work gets put in, and is continued to be put in, the sky is truly the limit.