Sledgehammer training is a great non-traditional method that can improve functional strength for lacrosse.
Regardless of the phase of training, sledgehammer training is a low-tech, inexpensive, highly effective sport-specific method of training for lacrosse. The demands placed on the body – specifically true core strength – by shooting and passing motions make sledgehammer training an incredibly appropriate strength training exercise.
Swinging a sledgehammer can increase strength that will help to improve both phases of the lacrosse swing, the draw (pulling the stick overhead or “side arm” and behind the shoulder) and the release (the forward and downward “throw”). There are a variety of ways to incorporate the sledgehammer into a lacrosse-specific strength-training program and build functional strength in the muscles of the shoulders and torso.
The basic sledgehammer swing is a great way to develop true core strength and improve endurance, as well.
Hitting a tire or log with a sledgehammer is the basic move and serves as a viable alternative to the using a cable machine. Also, sledgehammer training can be performed outside in conjunction with sport-specific sprinting, agility and skill drills.
It’s important to keep in mind that the sledgehammer swings should be used as a complimentary training method, not as a manner to try to replicate the shooting/passing motion used in lacrosse. The weight of the sledgehammer should not be so much to prevent proper swing technique and the speed that approximates the speed of the lacrosse shot.
Taking the sledgehammer all the way back into the draw position and following through properly through the release range should be the main priorities so as not to change the mechanics of the swing. Another key point when using the sledgehammer is to “train against the shot,” and not just work from the shooting side.
So players should work from both the right and left sides when swinging the sledgehammer in an attempt to minimize any strength imbalances. If it is apparent that a strength imbalance exists, the player can perform extra work on the weak side in an attempt at achieving symmetry.
Strength and flexibility imbalances can contribute to injuries, so addressing any potential asymmetries is very important. Sledgehammer training is an efficient, effective, inexpensive and fun sport-specific method of training for lacrosse.