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Lacrosse Warmups: the importance of breathing and meditation

I see so many coaches neglect the warm-up and use it is an opportunity to kill time which is crazy! I also see athletes waste the warmup instead of using it as a time to GET BETTER and GET IN MORE HIDDEN REPS!


Why are warm ups so IMPORTANT?


Warm-ups prepare the body for physical exertion, increase flexibility and range of motion, and help prevent injuries. A good warm-up routine can improve performance and decrease the risk of muscle strains, sprains, and other injuries.


But how to think differently??


In lacrosse, warm-ups should focus on specific movements and muscle groups used in the sport. Think about the practice plan for the day and what you are aiming to accomplish. Are you doing a lot of shooting? Great - that means we need to engage the core. Are you focusing on defensive footwork? Awesome, let's spend extra time on the glutes, quads, and hamstrings!


Think about actively moving body through the range of motion that is required for lacrosse.


But...BREATHING???


When I was coaching I was obsessed with breathing & meditation. I would scour the internet and read books to learn as much as I could. Breathing and meditation techniques can be highly beneficial for athletes in many sports, including both individual and team sports. These techniques can help athletes to manage stress, increase focus and concentration, improve performance, and even speed up recovery after workouts or competitions


I found my athletes were stressed when they came to practice, or at least had a million other things on their minds besides lacrosse. Maybe they just came from a hard class or got in a fight with their partner. It could and usually was always a wide range of things! Every day, we would take 5 minutes to #BREATHE before we even started practice. I ran them through various breathing techniques or guided meditations that focused on finding their breathe. Sometimes I would ask them to set goals or intentions and circle back at the end of practice. I found taking a few minutes every day to just slow down, not be on the phone, and breathe made the transition from a stressful day to practice to be pretty effective.


Here are some of the ways in which breathing and meditation can benefit athletes:

  1. Reducing stress: Athletes can experience high levels of stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact their performance. Meditation and breathing exercises can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, leading to a more calm and focused mind.

  2. Enhancing focus and concentration: By practicing mindfulness and meditation, athletes can train their minds to stay focused on the present moment, which can help them stay in the zone and perform at their best.

  3. Improving physical performance: Controlled breathing exercises can help athletes regulate their heart rate, increase oxygen uptake, and improve their overall physical performance.

  4. Speeding up recovery: Breathing and meditation techniques can help reduce inflammation and promote relaxation, which can help athletes recover faster after workouts or competitions.

Some examples of breathing and meditation techniques that athletes can practice include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and body scanning. These techniques can be incorporated into pre-game or pre-workout routines, as well as post-game or post-workout recovery sessions. (Would you like some examples??? let me know in the comments and I'll try to do a blog post based on that!)


Establish a PRE PRACTICE ROUTINE


As a coach... listen, I get it...you might not have 25-30 minutes to spend on a warmup so developing a pre-practice routine that works for you that you or your captains can lead is important. A warmup should be all encompassing so if you can just get 2-3 minutes of each (breathing, prehab, freestyle dynamic, tactical agility) then you are GOLDEN!


As an athlete...maybe your coach doesn't take time to focus on breathing, so show up to practice a few minutes early and stand on the field...close your eyes...and take a few deep inhales through your nose and exhale out of your mouth. Here's an awesome article about the importance of meditation & breathing in sport.


Overall, incorporating breathing and meditation techniques into sports training and competition can help athletes achieve a more balanced and focused state of mind, leading to improved performance and overall well-being. So if you can - take the time to DO IT.


To take a more in depth look at our freestyle dynamic and tactical agilities I mentioned, check out our Coaching Clinic packet, v1 on the coaching resources page.

let me know what you think in the comments!


What have you found that works for you or your squad? I would love to hear!

***getting out the field early and breathing with my girl ***


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