For many lacrosse players around the country, a busy season has just ended. Maybe it was high school, maybe it was a middle school team or maybe it was a spring club season. The summer is likely to bring more lacrosse for many of these players, but there are other things to consider to help your athlete get ready for the next season. Here are some tips to prepare your athlete for long-term success in lacrosse.

#1 Rest and Recovery

This is the No. 1 thing kids need, especially after the conclusion of the spring season. Our kids have been training and/or competing three to six days a week for the past few months. I’m no mathematician, but that’s anywhere from 90-180 days of intense physical activity.

By most accounts in the literature, it can take anywhere from 24-48 hours to recover from a single game. Many teams don’t have off the day after a game, never mind two consecutive days off during the spring. We play one day and within 24 hours, we’re back at it on the practice field with another game and or practice scheduled within 48 hours. This takes a toll on the body. Continuing this process for an additional two to three months is not healthy.

While there may not be visible trauma or injury, internally there has been a tremendous amount of stress on the body and its various systems. If your child is playing during the summer, the days off between events must be truly off. They should even have an opportunity to get bored in the summer. Yes, let them be bored. It will force them to get creative and find ways to solve the problem. Consider it a form of brain-training for solving problems on the lacrosse field.

#2 Get Away - Go on Vacation

Day trips to the lake, visit family members, join the community pool. Anything besides lacrosse every day. Road trips to the next event don’t count. Spending time with family and friends in a non-sporting context is part of the healthy psychological development of your athlete. It’s where they learn how to be part of a social group. It’s where their mind can take a break from the pressures of competition and they can get back to just being a kid. Yes, even 16-17 year olds want to be kids.

#3 Participate in Another Sport or Activity

The weather outside is usually beautiful, take advantage of it and expose your athlete to something new outdoors. Kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing, bicycling, swimming, surfing, volleyball, softball, tennis, golf, street hockey, whiffle-ball, or whatever. Put the lacrosse stick down and find another physical activity to enjoy. Lacrosse is fun, but there’s a whole menu of other sports out there that can be explored. These experiences need not be formal, sign-up for a team, go to four-practices-a-week sport experiences. It’s about exposure and learning to enjoy physical activity. It has been well-documented that multi-sport participants typically end up playing at the highest levels of their preferred sport.

#4 Self Improvement

I’m always amazed at how many teams I hear about that start their “off-season” training (strength and conditioning) programs in late fall. Properly designed strength and conditioning programs are periodized. There are multiple phases to them wherein the phases help the body recover, build additional strength, peak and maintain levels during the competition season. It takes more than a few weeks to really make a difference and a well-designed program will help your athlete develop greater physical tools and self-confidence in their sport. Consulting with an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) performance coach is a great way to help your athlete gain an athletic edge over their competition.

Stay cool, apply lots of sun-screen, but most of all enjoy the ride.  They’re only kids once, so let’s make sure we’re doing everything to make the summer as fun- and kid-centered as we can for them.

T.J. Buchanan is the technical director for athlete development at US Lacrosse.

Lacrosse Athlete Development Model

Providing every athlete the opportunity to enter, enjoy and excel by learning and playing lacrosse in a way that’s best for each stage of growth and development.

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