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Agile Athlete: Types of Speed

In lacrosse, the fastest and most agile players are not solely dependent on linear speed. Even those who are known for their blazing speed, like yours truly, don’t rely solely on straight-line sprints. Instead, they master complex movement patterns, such as crossovers and curvilinear movements.

“There are no straight lines in lacrosse.”

Skating coaches in elite hockey refer to this as the “crossover to stride ratio.” The best skaters in the NHL use one crossover for every four strides, while lower-level players use one for every 12-15 strides. This reveals that simply sprinting in a straight line isn’t the key to becoming faster on the ice.

What lacrosse players need to focus on is developing multi-directional speed that can be effectively employed in various on-field situations. Let’s examine some of these speed demands:

Linear Speed

This refers to speed in a straight line, like running as fast as possible from one end of the field to the other.

Lateral Speed

This is the speed in a lateral or sideways direction. Although it’s not primarily about pure speed, it plays a crucial role in the initial stages of changing direction or when a defenseman mirrors an opponent.

Curvilinear Speed

This involves speed expressed in circular movements, which is more common in lacrosse than one might think. Examples include coming around the net, maneuvering after a turnover, exiting the corner, or advancing on a rush.

Change of Direction

The best lacrosse players are adept at changing directions quickly. This skill is fundamental in outmaneuvering defenders, maintaining control of the game near the goal, and excelling in shut-down defense.


The first 3-5 steps are critical in lacrosse, as many races and opportunities are won during this burst of acceleration. Whether going from 0 to 100 or swiftly changing direction, developing explosive first steps can significantly enhance a player’s acceleration and overall performance.

3 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Mechanics

So, while we dove into the deep end with that last section, we want to leave you with something actionable that you can implement in your speed training today

And that’s refining your movement mechanics. 

  1. Lower in Hips
  2. Light on Toes
  3. Pump Arms
Refining Your Movement Mechanics for More Speed


To immediately enhance your speed training, focus on refining your movement mechanics. While this may not produce instant results, consistently concentrating on these three elements in your training sessions will lead to improved positioning and movement habits. By becoming more athletic and dynamic, you can elevate your game and become a more formidable lacrosse player.

  • Dr. John Cronin: “Applied Sports Science Series: Power Development,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
  • Dr. Andy Galpin: “Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training,” Human Kinetics.
  • Erica Suter: “Strength Training for Speed: Is It Necessary?” Breaking Muscle.
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA): “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning,” Human Kinetics.