Today's world class athletes train differently than the athletes of just ten years ago. No doubt, future athletes ten years from now will train with superior methods than today. Currently the most popular overview of training revolves around the most crucial event in which the athlete will compete. Once that event is discerned, the training regimen can be conceived. For example, if an athlete is competing in power lifting for the Olympics everything will be geared toward the Olympic competition. There might be other events the athlete competes in leading up to the Olympics, but they will be considered part of training. The idea is to start out slow and lay the foundation for increased stresses on the body. This achieves three goals. One, it reduces the risk of injury because the body is stressed incrementally rather than all at once. Two, the workout regimen constantly changes and the body reacts best to new challenges to avoid plateaus that occur when repeating the same old workout. Three, an athlete reaches a peak fitness level at the same time that they're competing in the key event. Training in college lacrosse, especially division 1 men, has become a year round endeavor so trainers can utilize some of these methods for their student athletes.
We talked to trainer to the stars Jay Dyer to get the inside scoop on how the Johns Hopkins lacrosse players train.
Jay Dyer, CSCS: Jay graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor's degree in exercise science and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is currently in his third year as strength and conditioning coach for the Johns Hopkins University Men's Lacrosse Team. Along with his duties at Johns Hopkins, Jay also works as a personal trainer. He has trained numerous All-County, All-Metro and Division I, II and III athletes throughout Maryland, along with athletes from the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse. If you are interested in training with Jay he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-453-9111 X607.
Before we begin this question and answer session we need to dispell any misconceptions that may arise from this article. Under no circumstances should a high school athlete quit other sports in order to train year round for lacrosse. Other sports will inherently train your body in ways you probably couldn't mimic on your own. All coaches will tell you that they look for multiple sport athletes because it's a great indicator that a player is athletic as well as skilled. Also, from now on everything in bold print will be Jay Dyers words. Regular print within his answers will be asides from the writer of the article.
Lax.com: What is the overall goal of the Johns Hopkins lacrosse fitness program?
Jay Dyer: The goal of the strength and conditioning program is maximizing the athletic potential of the team through different modes of training (strength, speed, power, agility, coordination and flexibility).
Lax.com: Does each player get a different plan to follow or are there just blanket expectations of the team?
Jay Dyer: There are certain expectations for the team, but exercises can be modified to make them easier or more difficult depending on the athletes abilities. Keep in mind these guys are used to being either the best or one of the best athletes from their school, so when they aren't up to snuff with the rest of the team they will put in extra time to make themselves better. No one wants to be the guy that holds up a training session because he can't perform a given task. A good example is the footwork drills we do in the fall. The freshmen usually struggle with the coordination aspects of the drills, while at the same time they see the upperclassmen performing them with ease. The same guys that struggled with the drills are the ones that ask for access to the equipment and make themselves better.
Lax.com: Of the five areas of fitness(cardio-vascular, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition, and flexibility) which areas are stressed most and why?
Jay Dyer: The focus of the program changes based on what part of the competitive year we are in. The competitive year is from June 2002 to June 2003. When training started at the end of June (the team had about 4 weeks off between the Final Four and when training began ) the schedule was very light and the goal was to develop work capacity (preparation for greater levels of stress).
We spend more time developing anaerobic endurance than cardiovascular endurance. Based on the tempo of the sport, speed is an emphasis along with the ability to recover from repeated bouts of high-speed movements.
Developing strength of the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, abdominals and low back is a high priority. Many athletes lack adequate strength in these areas and it is something that needs to be corrected.
Big Biceps and pecs may get the chicks, but squats will help you more on the field than any other weight lifting you could do.
Lax.com: What kind of exercises are done to fulfill each area of fitness?
Jay Dyer: Strength: Squats, dead lift, bench press, pull-ups, one-arm snatch, back extensions, reverse hypers, abdominal exercises, medicine ball throws.
Conditioning: Fartlek runs (a combination of sprints and jogging), pattern running (sprint drills), 300 yard shuttle runs, stadium stair running
Lax.com: What kind of team or individual fitness tests are done throughout the year? Are there cut-offs or consequences for below par performance?
Jay Dyer: Individual testing is done for body composition, speed, power and agility. Some of these tests include, standing long jump, pro-agility test, 10-20-40 yard dash. The purpose of testing is to evaluate the athlete and the strength and conditioning program.
Each athlete wants to improve so that is what is emphasized, improvement. The only consequences for poor testing would be that everyone, the coaching staff and your teammates are going to be watching you closely making sure you are putting the effort in to make yourself better. The only time we run into trouble is at the beginning of the fall. There could be a couple of athletes whose body fat measures too high and they are responsible for getting into proper shape. This has become less of a problem with each year and I give a lot of credit to the upperclassmen that keep in contact with the incoming freshmen, they let them know what is expected of them.
Lax.com: Are certain position players expected to do more or less training?
Jay Dyer: There is not a breakdown of workouts for different positions, however there is competition between players that play different positions which adds to the intensity of the workouts. No matter what position you play you will be in shape so you can perform at a high level.
Lax.com: How involved is the staff in the players nutrition?
Jay Dyer: General information is provided to the players. For specific nutritional concerns the players are given contact information for a nutritionist, at that point it is their responsibility.
Lax.com: How does training change as the team moves from off-season to fall ball to pre-season to in-season?
Jay Dyer: In the off-season the players focus on building strength and muscle size, there is not as much conditioning during this time of the year. During fall ball we are maintaining our gains from the summer and at the same time building towards the winter program. As the pre-season approaches the level of conditioning increases so the players are prepared for their first practice. Once we are in-season the volume of training decreases significantly, once again the goal is to maintain the gains made during the previous training cycle.
It is important to realize that there are scheduled breaks from training throughout the year, this down time is vital for both psychological and physical well being.
Physical training is constantly being reinvented. As an athlete you've just read the overall goal. Remember to change up your workout often. Your body will respond to the changing stressors and your brain will thank you as well for not boring it to death. Expose yourself to as many training methods as you can and you will quickly learn many things about your body. As Jay mentioned earlier, most athletes are lacking in leg strength and lower back strength. Weight lifting with your legs will take you a long way. Instead of starting your weight lifting week by benching always start with legs. Make sure that if you do nothing else with weights you do legs.
Do your research. Spend time on the internet looking up diverse training programs and what they aim to accomplish. When you're in the gym ask trainers and other members questions. Almost as important as physical training is nutrition. For a good start click here Nutrition