2019’s NCAA Men’s Lacrosse playoffs showcase the game’s growth over the past years. We’re accustomed to seeing Maryland, Notre Dame, Duke, Cuse’, Virginia, Hopkins, and recently Loyola & Yale. For quite some time, these teams have dominated the NCAA Men’s lacrosse landscape. However, as time passes, one can’t help but notice the talented teams popping up across the greater US. Teams such as Penn and Penn State poise to make a late-season playoff run for the first time in school history. They’re all here with one common goal, to win the NCAA Lacrosse Championship. Their goal was not decided upon a few months ago, the foundation for this opportunity was laid back in August of 2018.
How did they get this far?
It’s easy to justify the remaining teams success. For example, stating Loyola rode on the coattails of Pat Spencer, and Penn State relied on a high powered offense and TD Ierlan playing make-it-take it at the face-off. To some degree, we can attribute the team’s success to those opinions. However, for the non-diehard onlooker, the reason they’re here is much different. What will everyone see when they tune in to this weekend’s ELITE 8 and Memorial Day’s final four/Championship? I attempt to take my (Coach Dan) vision away from the X’s & O’s of a game I’ve been around for 20 + years and look at it through the eyes of a spectator. I guarantee spectators will see the following: Speed, Conditioning, Power, Strength, Coordination, Balance, Selflessness, and an unquantifiable willingness to win.
All 8 teams, that we’ll see this weekend, showed up to campus in August of 2018 and inevitably had their team meetings within a few short days of arriving. Coaches most likely describe what it means to represent the program and the expectations required to be apart of the team. I guarantee, with much certainty, that each team was reminded of their goal to win the NCAA Lacrosse Championship. As classes begin and the fall progresses, the groundwork for where they’re at today is laid. School, practice, weight training, conditioning, speed & agility work, studying, meetings, film, food, rest, repeat. From August until April, this is most likely the life of all D1 college lacrosse players. Nevertheless, their commitment to the expectations and requirements is what got them to this point. Few teams, at this point in time (Elite 8), have made it to May. You don’t arrive here by chance, you get here through diligent work and countless hours perfecting every aspect of the team.
Injuries, aches, pains and soreness are apart of every contact sport. How do these players stay healthy and able to play high level sports almost year round?
Strength and Conditioning play a vital role in players ability to play in May. Check out this article from Livestrong regarding the injury prevention and conditioning for male and female lacrosse players.
Activ8’s Favorite Conditioning Drill
Recommendation for Improving Conditioning:
Run twice a week and execute run two times each day with a two minute rest in between runs.
Remember, you don’t always need to run in a straight line.
Add Cuts and multidirectional movements!
Preparing for a championship run requires the team and individual players to have the ability to deal with and manage a slew of mental challenges. However, these can vary from differences with a teammate to the anxiety of a big game. Take a look at this article from the Ohio Center for Sports Psychology that does a great job of breaking down the 9 mental challenges of successful athletes.
The moment is here. Players finished their school finals, run countless miles, lifted, eaten properly, slept, hydrated, practiced, watched film, mentally prepared and now face a do or die situation. Win and move on, loose and go home. When the whistle blows, everything they’ve done since August 2018 culminates in a brief window of time. Joy, heartbreak, and a multitude of emotions will ensue. However, when we look past the wins and losses, we see groups of young men sharing a common goal and putting every ounce of physical and mental ability into it. Sports is such an innocent reflection of life and we should all take a moment to appreciate what these young men have done to get to this point. Good luck to the teams competing the the NCAA Lacrosse Championship!
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