Lacrosse may be a seasonal sport (in theory), but there’s no reason your training has to be. Pre-season training is one of the best ways to make sure you’re not only ready for the upcoming season, but that you’ll be starting it in better shape; and slideboards are one of the best tools to help you accomplish that.
Good lacrosse training should work to build upon your strength and endurance. Having gigantic shoulder muscles will do nothing for you if you can’t run more than fifteen yards without becoming winded; sure you could try to make a career out of long-distance throws as a defender, but the chances are slim to none—and you’ll still have to try to chase down spry attackers as they come across the restraining line. Similarly you might be the fastest on the field but your weak core limits you from making strategic throws. Lacrosse requires your whole body, and therefore, so do your workouts; luckily, the slideboard can address each of these facets.
In general slideboards offer a new, or underworked, series of movements: lateral movements. These movements allow you to work areas of the body not generally accessible by weight-room machines or dumbbells. The benefits on the field? Imagine you’re an attacker on a breakaway deep into your opponent’s territory; two defenders are in front of the 12-meter fan, you’re only hope for a goal is to juke laterally and aim for an extreme angle. Without sufficient training your juke falls flat—or you fall flat as you lose your balance–either way, the ball is no longer under your control. Training laterally allows you to maximize performing that kind of movement on the field, allowing you to make that extreme-angle shot as your body jukes awkwardly to the right or left.
Individually, slideboards are great for building lower body strength and core strength, but exploring the exercises that combine the two means you’ll achieve greater coordination, dexterity, flexibility and balance: crucial components for maneuvering in lacrosse. You’ve likely seen highlights of Syracuse, Hopkins or Princeton attackers scoring one-handed goals behind their back and off their back foot, none of which would be possible without having proficiency in the aspects listed above.
Slideboards can also be used as a great tool to build your power on the field. Originally designed to help skiers and skaters, the slideboard can use that same lateral movement to enhance your running. Sliding back and forth laterally across the board works the inner muscles of your legs in addition to the bigger groups of quads, calves and hamstrings. Skating back and forth on the board will build muscle and respiratory endurance and make you more explosive once you get back to the grass or turf. Just like doughnuts in baseball, the slippery surface of the slideboard will help build up your leg strength so that once you’re back on the field, you’ll be able to push off from the ground with greater ease and speed. This will especially come in handy when pivoting or changing directions sharply and is great for every position—whether a middie or goalie.
As many trainers will tell you, the key to effective exercising is all about muscle confusion. The slideboard becomes such a great tool for training simply because your body isn’t used to this kind of movement off the field. The resulting muscle confusion yields results that will surprise your coach, your opponents and yourself—making the slideboard your secret training weapon.