TRAINING TO PLAY IN COLLEGE

Today's blog is in response to a question that I received on Twitter. If you ever have a question or theme that you are interested in, then please just either tweet me at trevor_tierney or post a message on our TIER Facebook page. Thanks!

What are some of the intangibles for emerging college lax hopefuls to focus on? Footwork, flexibility, lift vs. cross-fit?

I talk about a lot of this in a blog that I did last year entitled Surviving The Cut , in which I explain how to become a better player and athlete. This blog was written for players who have gotten cut by a team and are looking to improve their skills and athleticism, but really it applies to everyone. I bet more people would read it if I entitled it, "How To Make a Division I Team"! I also passed a long a bunch of good training tips in the blog, Be A Great Athlete . Before reading any further, check out those two articles first if you have not seen them yet.

To get back to the question though, lacrosse is growing so much now that a young player cannot just get by simply from practicing lacrosse. Young players have to work on their conditioning, strength, agility and flexibility. Obviously, there are thousands of ways to go about doing this, but finding a trainer is the best way to start.

When I was young, I started training pretty hard from the time that I was 13 or 14 years old. I was really lucky in that I met a trainer when I was young who was a strength coach in the NFL. At the time, he was working at Princeton and interning for the Philadelphia Eagles, and now he works full time for the Minnesota Vikings. He pushed me hard in the weight room and we did what is called High Intensity Training or HIT. I loved it and it kept me injury free through football, hockey and lacrosse in high school. I increased my strength dramatically and I went from being a skinny little kid to an athlete with pretty good size. My trainer also took me through agility drills that helped my footwork dramatically.To work on my conditioning, I just did a lot of the runs and sprints that my father's team ran at Princeton. I did not work a lot on my flexibility a lot growing up and I really think that hurt me as an athlete. I was always dealing with a tight back and hamstrings. But other than that, I was working as hard as possible to get better as an athlete each and every day as I was growing up.

As I said before, there are a lot of different philosophies out there now on which is the best way to get stronger. It is hard to find a strength coach that agrees with another one! My philosophy is to just train hard in a safe manner. The only thing I discourage young athletes from doing is any Olympic lifts (this always pisses a couple trainers off, so I am bound to get a couple comments below). The problem with Olympic lifts (which are a part of Cross-Fit) is that if athletes do not have perfect form and/or use too much weight, they can really injure their back or another part of their body. Trainers will say that this is why they teach their athletes to have great form, but young athletes always lose that "perfect" form when they move up in weight. I cannot even count how many people I know who have hurt their back in college as a result of Olympic lifts. It's crazy to me! The weight room should be about injury prevention and not about putting athletes in position to injure themselves more.

Finally, I really believe that yoga is a great way for athletes to improve their flexibility, strength, conditioning and mental focus for sports. I started taking yoga when I was around 23 years old and playing professionally. It helped increase my speed, flexibility and overall athleticism dramatically! I wished that I had taken yoga when I was younger. A great place to start taking yoga for beginners is CorePower yogas which are starting to pop up all over the country.

So, if you want to be the best lacrosse player that you can be, you have work hard off the field as well! Working on your strength, speed, agility and flexibility are keys to success. They are also great practices for you to learn how to push yourself, test your limits and find out what hard work can do for you!