Building Explosive Core Strength and Rotational Power for Lacrosse Players: Part 1

**Please note, while this article series relates to lacrosse, all athletes can follow this sequence to achieve greater performance and injury prevention…now lets get to it!

At TOP Fitness we work with a  lot of lacrosse players, so naturally we are focused on helping our athletes build the qualities most crucial for their success in lacrosse.  

 

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One of the most important athletic qualities for lacrosse players is their ability to generate explosive rotational power.

When an athlete has greater rotational power, not only will they be able to sprint faster, change directions quicker and react more effectively, but they will be able to rip off a high speed shot that will be tough to stop…and there will always be a spot for this athlete on the field!

So building explosive rotational power should be a goal of any lacrosse player who is looking to achieve the greatest amount of success in sport.

Explosive rotational power can only occur when an athlete is first stronger and more explosive through their core.

Being stronger and more explosive through the core provides a solid base to transfer force from the legs through the upper body, which allows for the improvements in the athletic qualities mentioned, as well as decreases the chance of injury. 

The explosive strength we are talking about is not achieved through thousands upon thousands of crunches, Russian twists, or hours worth of plank holds (although planks will play a role).

The type of explosive strength necessary to be the greatest lacrosse player possible is multifaceted.

It is achieved through a specific sequence of concepts and exercises that are layered on top of each other, to optimally build and express the explosive strength, as well as keep the athlete healthy and resilient.

 

How to Build Explosive Core Strength and Rotational Power: The Sequence  

First, the cores primary responsibility and action is to stabilize the hips and spine and transfer force throughout the body.

 

 

Stability is an ambiguous term for many of us. The simplest way to think about stability when it comes to movement and performance is the ability to resist change from an optimal position.

This is especially key when it comes to the hips and spine because it is through the hips and spine that the lower body is connected to the upper body. When their positioning is solid, energy can be created and transferred throughout the body. 

If your goals include accelerating the fastest, cutting the quickest, jumping the highest, rotating with the most speed, etc. it is critical to have hips and a spine that are in a solid position at all times.

Therefore, the first consideration when training for explosive core strength is to solidify the position of the hips and spine, especially when the arms and legs are moving.

 

Exercises to Solidify Hip and Spine Position: Your Base for Explosive Core Strength

 

  1. Static Plank

The first exercises to execute and progress are the static plank positions. 

Planks help to build the isometric strength in the core necessary to stabilize the hips and spine. But like anything else, they must be performed correctly!

Too often a plank is performed with sagging and/or rotated hips, a rounded upper back and a head that is protruding way out in front of the body and almost contacting the floor.

 

 

Instead think about keeping the hips from sagging down and rotating forward (you can envision pulling your zipper up towards your ribcage), and keeping your spine as long as you can from the tip of your tail bone through the top of your head.

Hold the position for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

 

 

2) Static Side Plank

Side planks, just like the regular plank, build isometric strength. This time the target is the lateral (or side) core and hip musculature. 

Also like the regular plank, you want to keep the hips from sagging or rotating as you envision keeping your zipper up towards your ribcage to prevent the low back from excessively arching. And keep the same thought of staying long from your tailbone to the tip of your head.

Hold each side for 10-20 seconds.

 

 

3) Deadbug

The deadbug is used to help you understand how to work around a fixed core (as well as its many variations). The goal is to keep the back flat to the floor, and the hips from rotating as the opposite arm and leg reach out long.

This now takes a static strengthening exercise like the planks and challenges the athlete to keep the same optimal core position while the arms and legs are moving as they will be when on the feet playing lacrosse. 

Try performing 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps per side.

 

 

4) Birddog

Flip the deadbug and you have the birddog. This exercise is more difficult to keep the core, spine and hips solid as the arms and legs extend as you are now working against gravity. 

The action at the legs is especially key because this is the same action as sprinting (hip extension) and if the hips rotate forward and low back arches when this happens, not only will the athlete lose power, but they will also be at a greater risk for injury.

 

 

Part II is Next!

The concept of keeping the core stable is only the beginning to building explosive core strength and rotational power for our lacrosse players (and all rotational athletes). 

The next step is to challenge this stability with more complex positions that are specific to sport. 

In part two we will cover how we can further challenge the lacrosse athlete to stabilize their body and optimally transfer power from the lower body to the upper body.