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Agile Athlete: Shooting Harder

So, you wanna shoot harder? It’s no secret that lacrosse players are consistently trying to improve their shot power. We all know the player who scores goals simply because he can completely let it rip when he’s got the ball.  And the truth is, you’d probably add more goals this season if you were shooting harder too.

This is why elite players are focusing on consistently refining their shot mechanics, creating a smoother release, and getting the ball out of the pocket quicker.

But eventually, players realize that it’s not all technique.

This is when players reach out to us to ask “What can I do in the gym to shoot harder?

While shooting mechanics are vital – you need to develop the strength and power that you can utilize in your shot.  Otherwise, you’re building an F1 car and putting in a Honda Civic engine. 

We created this article to give the exact exercises that will help you develop that F1 engine by developing strength & power in the kinetic chains that will specifically translate to shooting harder. 

We’ll going to be breaking this into 3 sections: 

  1. Strength Exercises to Shoot Harder
  2. Power-Based Exercises for Increased Shot Velocity
  3. Mobility Exercises to Improve Shot Mechanics 


Power starts with strength. Literally. 

Power is defined by the body’s ability to generate force (strength) with speed. So, while lacrosse players often turn to weighted ball exercises and power exercises – it’s vital to be developing the foundational and functional strength that will allow for more force generation. 

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that we want lacrosse players to focus on full-body strength as much as possible. 


The Pallof Press is one of the single most valuable core exercises for lacrosse players. 

Considered an “anti-rotation” exercise, we use this exercise religiously in our lacrosse programs to challenge players’ capacity to brace their core as much as possible. In addition to letting players play stronger, it also allows them to develop the musculature responsible for shooting. 

This can be done with either a cable or a band – and we’ll typically use it for 10-12 reps with a focus on completely eliminating rotation. 


The Chop is similar to Pallof Presses but adds in actual rotation. 

We love this in the “half kneel” position because it allows lacrosse players to really brace their core and lock in, while also challenging them to create the rotation from their upper back. 

It might not look like it, but this exercise directly trains all of the musculature and rotational chains used in a lacrosse shot, making it insanely valuable. 

Again, this can be done with either a cable or band – make sure you’re squeezing your abs and getting strong. 


The Face Pull is insanely valuable for lacrosse players. 

All Lacrosse Players should have heavy pull-based exercises like chin-ups or off-bench rows in their program – but they also need to focus on targeting the small muscles of the back and shoulders (i.e. the rotator cuffs) that support shoulder strength and stability. 

This is an exercise we put in all programs for lacrosse players – almost weekly. 

This exercise mainly hits the rear deltoids, rhomboids mid-traps, along with the muscles of the rotator cuffs. Overall, insanely valuable for lacrosse players to develop the strength they need to improve their shoulder posture, biomechanics, and strength/power expression while shooting. 

We like to see players using higher reps for this exercise and focusing on movement quality – where they squeeze their shoulder blades back, hold for a couple of seconds, and then slowly control back. 


Alright, so at this point you’re probably looking to see if Bench Press is on the list. 

While it’s a favorite for all athletes because it gives them a chance to throw up serious weight – it’s far from the best exercise for lacrosse players to develop push-based strength and is arguably putting them are a greater risk than reward. 

Instead, we love the Incline Chest Press.

Dumbbells allow for greater shoulder stability demand and unilateral strength development. While the incline allows for greater shoulder recruitment.  Together this makes the Incline Press far more valuable than the bench press. 

This can still be heavy – and should be in all lacrosse player’s programs. 

More reading: 


Alright, so while it’s essential to develop a strength foundation that will give you more firepower in your shot – you also need to develop the capacity to express this strength as rapidly and explosively as possible. 

It’s important for these exercises to be done with a maximal contraction. While some players see the power exercises as high speed, in reality, we want to hit every rep with as much intensity as we can possibly express. Much like a lacrosse shot, the goal for these types of exercises is to fire as aggressively as possible. We’re challenging the nervous system’s capacity to fire with as much force and as fast as possible.

While many Coaches overcomplicate this with complex Olympic lifts or using technology like force plates – the reality is that we see the best results with simple exercises done with this maximum rep intensity. 

Here are some of our favorites that we include in all of our lacrosse player programs: 


While we also use the classic “Ball Slam” exercise a ton, we love this rotational variation because it directly challenges the musculature and kinetic chains related to shooting a lacrosse ball. 

We really want to emphasize maximum contraction with each rep here and create an ultra-braced core.  The entire intention of this exercise is to practice full-body power expression, so make sure you’re really firing here!


This exercise is ultra popular with baseball and lacrosse strength coaches, and for good reason – it allows you to generate as much rotational power as possible. 

When we give this exercise to lacrosse players, we actually like to keep the ball on the lighter side (6, 8, or 10lbs) because the goal isn’t to challenge the strength of the movement but to refine your rotational capacity and the biomechanics-related to generating as much rotational power as possible. 

This is one where you can really let it rip. 


Whenever a lacrosse player doesn’t have access to a ball or a wall to throw against – this is the exercise they need to have in their program. 

While some players have likely used landmines in the past, this exercise isn’t as common but is insanely valuable in challenging the rotational chains. For this exercise, we typically start light and focus on utilizing the entire body to create that rotational expression. 

The whole premise of this exercise is “load and explode” – we don’t want to crush out reps, but instead explode through each one. 


This exercise is much more of a sleeper.  While the above exercises allow for more intensity and power expression, we wanted to include at least one exercise on this list that could be done with just dumbbells. 

This exercise challenges rotation in a unique way because it encourages players to start the rotation through their lower body and then at a certain point flex the core and fire into a press. 

While this isn’t the exact rotational demands of a lacrosse shot – this principle is super valuable for lacrosse players to refine and optimize. 


Can stretching help you shoot harder? 

It might be a strange concept to most players, but the answer is – absolutely yes. 

We’ve seen elite college players who have already elite shooting capacity start reporting that their shot feels smoother and “cleaner” when they start focusing on the mobility program we give them in our Relentless Off-Season program

A healthy range of motion allows for lacrosse players to create more wind up and range in their shot, while also allowing for more optimized movement patterns (not just in shooting, but literally every component of lacrosse).

This is why our programs focus on improving mobility each workout and on off-days. 

While we have full articles that dive into mobility & stretching for lacrosse players, let’s look at the top 3 exercises that we see improve shot velocity. 


Restricted shoulders create restricted shots. 

If you can’t get into a healthy overhead range of motion, then you’ve limited your opportunity to generate power through your shot.

It’s kind of like pulling a bow and arrow only part way back and expecting it to release just as hard as a full range. 

When it comes to shoulder mobility, this is by far the easiest way to release through the entire upper body. Whether you feel this through the chest or the front of your shoulders (you’ll feel it most wherever you’re tight) this is the perfect release through the upper body. 

Grab a band or even a broomstick and get some reps in daily. 


Whenever we did movement screens on lacrosse teams, we’d see that well over 60% would fail a rotational backtest. 

This is surprising because lacrosse players need to have a healthy range of motion in their back in order to create more wind up in their shot. 

This exercise addresses exactly that range of motion by challenging your ability to rotate through your torso. Really try to pause at the top and bottom of this movement and feel yourself trying to actively create more range. 


This is another rotational-based mobility exercise that’s insanely invaluable for improving your rotation. 

By having your knee firmly on the ground for this exercise, you eliminate rotation in the lower back (which is healthy in most lacrosse players) and challenge your range of motion in the upper back (which is restricted in most lacrosse players)

We have our lacrosse players do this nearly every workout and it pays massive dividends after just a few sessions. 


Shoulder mobility is essential for lacrosse players. 

Coming back to that bow and arrow concept, when a player is restricted in their shoulders they limit their ability to utilize more range to generate more power. 

For this exercise we really want our lacrosse players to go slow and controlled. 

This exercise is not only about increasing the range of motion but also developing an increased range of control. This means that lacrosse players can more effectively control themselves and generate power from this end range of motion. 


While refining your shot on the field is always priority number one, being able to develop the strength, power, and mobility off the field that translates is like increasing the horsepower in your engine. 

That’s why we put an emphasis on all of these exercises in our off-season program to develop a body built for explosive power. Whether it’s on our programs or creating your own program, all lacrosse players should be fitting these exercises into their workouts at least weekly!