Strength & Conditioning for Lacrosse: Core Training - Strength & Stability

By Billy J. Voltaire, CSCS

Think about the first time you stepped into your first shot or the first time throwing a pass and how uncoordinated and inefficient you may have been. Besides the lack of necessary motor control and proper mechanics, you're body was probably as unstable as a bowl of jello. Through years of training and practice, our movements became more skilled, coordinated, and efficient, but it shouldn't end there.

Many times we forget the basics when training and focus on accessory muscles and not the foundation, the core. It is impossible to be a shooter with pinpoint accuracy without a stable core. Imagine standing on a ball and trying to take a shot. It's very unstable, obviously, and that's how ineffective you can be without a solid foundation. All motions (throwing, running, dodging, etc.) at the extremities, legs, and arms require a solid foundation in order to transfer energy efficiently.

Crunches alone simply don't cut it! Lying down and only curling your trunk is great for the beach and may help improve performance, but it should not stand alone in a training regimen. Crunches and sit-ups are great to develop strength of the trunk but have little transfer for stability.

Stability refers to the ability to maintain a rigid core and produce coordinated, forceful movements at the extremity. Combining the two methods of core strength and stability will allow you to train core power, the ability to produce powerful, quick movements at the extremities.

The following precautions should be considered before and during core training:

  1. As with any exercise, it is important to breathe normally. Avoid holding your breath (valsalva maneuver).

  2. Always check with your physician in the event you have any lower back pain before considering ANY exercise, not just core training.

  3. Train both front and back.

  4. Always use appropriate progressions and don’t overdo it.
See the Samples Exercises, Suggested Prescription to Improve Core, and Sample Workout along with the accompanying photos and video, which illustrate most of the core training exercises.

Sample Exercises
Boxer Crunches

Superman > Back Extension


Russian Twist

  + 3 Point Plank (Advanced)

Side Planks

  + Side Plank + Hip Flexion (Advanced)

Swiss Ball (SB) Plank (Intermediate)

  + SB Push-Up (Advanced)
Seated Medicine Ball (MB) Toss (Intermediate)

  + Seated MB Toss with feet off ground (Advanced)

MB Russian Twist–Toss (Advanced)

MB Slam

Note: For planks, hips must remain neutral, straight. Pain in your back is a sign of improper technique. However, if done correctly and pain persists, it is advised to shift to another exercise.

Suggested Prescription to Improve Core
  • Warm-up: Core activation
  • Rest: < 60s between sets
  • Repetitions:
    • Per exercise: 2-3 sets of 15-25 reps or hold for 60s
    • Total volume: 200–250 reps

Sample Workout
Superman 3 x 15
Russian Twist 3 x 30 rotations
SB Hip Flexion 2 x 20 (per leg)
Boxer Crunches 3 x 25
Back Extension 3 x 15

Term to Know

Valsalva Maneuver: Forcefully exhaling against a closed airway; this can dangerously increase blood pressure.

Previous Strength & Conditioning for Lacrosse Articles
The Romanian Deadlift
The Dynamic Warm-up
The Back Squat

Billy J. Voltaire, CSCS, is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Manhasset High School in Manhasset, New York. He can be reached at

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