Variety is key to MLL offseason training programs
With the offseason officially underway, MLL Press Box talked to Ryan Brown, Dylan Donahue and Ryan Tucker about their training regimens. The fall and winter months are a crucial time of year for players to train for the upcoming season and oftentimes, breakout performances are born from the work put in this time of year.
Athleticism is showcased at the highest level in Major League Lacrosse. The speed of the game increases dramatically from the collegiate level to the professional stage and the players seem to keep getting stronger every season. The shock of entering the league from a physical and mental aspect was not lost on any of the incoming players – it was essential for their exercise and nutrition to adapt.
Charlotte Hounds attackman, Ryan Brown hits the gym hard both in and out of season. Trying his best to stay versatile, he introduced mixed martial arts and ju-jitsu into his training this past offseason, which has proven to be very beneficial. “Everyone always says it’s important to play different sports and I think that is true,” says Brown. “Somedays I’d play pick-up basketball and get a good sweat in and then go lift. Other days I would work on my sprints and then practice ju-jitsu. Doing the same thing every day gets pretty boring.”
Maintaining a healthy balance between cardio and weights can be challenging and sometimes even daunting for an athlete. When players are in college their workout regimens are handed to them with a full team right behind them. At the professional level, it’s up to the individual to get their work done. No one will tell you when to do your heavy lifts or when to work on your sprint intervals – it all comes down to self-discipline.
Ryan Tucker, University of Virginia alum and current midfielder for the Chesapeake Bayhawks, had to adjust his workouts once he entered MLL.
“I do a lot more body weight stuff, not a ton of Olympic lifts like I did in college,” says Tucker. “More exercises with dumbbells, medicine balls, and some footwork – couple that with running every other day and I’m beat.” Maintaining a consistent schedule is also very important for Tucker: aiming for a weighted workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while leaving Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for cardio.
Mixing short and long-distance runs is crucial to keep up with the speed of the game. Most athletes vary their cardio with stairs, hill sprints, elliptical-work, short-burst sprints, and long-distance sprints. Atlanta Blaze attackman Dylan Donahue shared that maintaining his level of cardio was one of the toughest parts of training on his own after graduating from Syracuse.
“Adjusting to running on your own and making yourself do the tough sprint workouts was hard. I think the key is to never let yourself get out of shape, you have to push yourself to be in the best shape possible every day,” explains Donahue.
To be in the best physical shape, nutrition is vital. Coming from college dining hall food, there is an immense improvement for these players to have a wider selection of healthy foods at their fingertips. A Johns Hopkins alum, Brown felt the difference of post-college nutrition immediately.
“I think just being out of college and being able to go to the grocery store and not just eat whatever is on the dining hall menu - I’m eating healthier all the time now and not just in-season. Whereas before it was just grab whatever is there.” Eating clean with high protein, moderate carbs and healthy fats is a typical and beneficial diet for a professional lacrosse player. Having the resources and the time to prepare a well-balanced meal is a huge benefit for an athlete’s game and performance.
Continuing the standard of athleticism, fitness, and nutrition for lacrosse is strenuous and challenging. You cannot duplicate the speed and strength of a game at the professional level, maintaining your diet and physical abilities is invaluable in terms of training. Consistency and self-discipline are both common themes in an MLL athlete’s training mentality. Getting used to the rigorous schedule can be overwhelming, but the work has been proven to be worth it in order to have the opportunity to compete with the best of the best.