I’m a high school goalie in my junior year. For my PE credit with my school I’m doing CrossFit 3 days a week. My plan is to use these few months in CrossFit to get stronger and better conditioned, then basically live in the weight room and bulk up over the winter with my improved strength and stamina (I’m 5’8 and just over 140). My question is, do you think CrossFit will build slow twitch fibers? I have a (probably irrational) fear of killing my speed and reaction time by building the wrong kind of muscle, as quick hands and explosive legs are my bread and butter. So is CrossFit going to slow me down? Also, would you have any other advice for offseason training?
Essentially the question boils down to this: should lacrosse goalies do CrossFit?
In a position like lacrosse goalie so specific to speed and explosion is CrossFit an effective strength and conditioning program?
Now I’ll admit that I’m no CrossFit expert. As a huge fitness fan of course I’ve engaged in some CrossFitting sessions to appease my CrossFit friends, but again I’m no expert.
So I had to do a fair amount of research on the CrossFit workout before I could confidently declare whether or not CrossFit was appropriate workout to train lacrosse goalies.
In this post we’ll explore whether CrossFitting and lax goalie’ing go together.
Perceptions of CrossFit
One thing is for sure, CrossFit is pretty polarizing. You have a group of people who absolutely love and won’t stop talking about it and another group who discourage any type of athlete from stepping foot into a CrossFit studio.
So before we dig into a debate of whether CrossFit is good for lacrosse goalies, let’s explore exactly what is CrossFit in the first place.
CrossFit isn’t some revolutionary workout idea. It’s a fitness program that combines a wide variety of functional movements into a timed or scored workout.
Movements include pull-ups, squats, push-ups, hand-stand pushups, muscle ups, weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing, and a host of others.
Each CrossFitter gets a Workout of the Day (WOD) where they perform a series of movements under timed conditions and attempt to achieve max reps or minimum time for a fixed number of reps.
Here is a sample WOD:
2 rounds for time of:
50 GHD sit-ups
60 hip extensions
70 single-leg squats
The timed or scored element has come under criticism as athletes sacrifice form for getting more reps. With CrossFit you have to learn new movements. Not many lacrosse goalies know the proper technique for a clean or a hand-stand pushup, that’s something you need to learn.
CrossFit is also all about the coaches and instructors.
If you have someone teach you an incorrect snatch form for example, you can obviously get hurt. The misconception that CrossFit ruins your body derives mostly from poor technique or adding heavy weight too soon, before the movement technique is mastered.
Pros of CrossFit for Goalies
Challenged Based System
Any good coach or trainer understands that introducing challenge or competition pushes the athlete to work harder.
In my goalie training I also try to use challenge and competition in each drill. It’s human nature and if you tell me the record for pushups in 30 seconds is 35, I want to get 36.
If you caught 7 out of 10 cards in the card toss drill, next time go for 8 out of 10.
The way to get the most out of an athlete is to give them a target and put them in competition with their peers.
That’s exactly what CrossFit does with the WOD.
Metabolic training refers to conditioning exercises intended to increase the storage and delivery of energy for any activity.
By layering and structuring exercises together CrossFit provides anaerobic training which can match endurance training for aerobic benefit.
Lacrosse goalies don’t need to have the best endurance of any athlete on the field but endurance is key. Because as soon as you get tired your save ability and your ability to remain mentally tough go right out the window.
Many say CrossFit’s workouts are more effective than steady state cardio (running).
In the CrossFit sessions I’ve done, I’ve gotten good workouts. Going hard for 20-30 minutes without stopping will get the heart rate pounding.
After the workout, you’ll feel drained and beaten, and you’ll truly feel like you’ve put in an extreme amount of work, because you did!
Benefit of Teamwork
Having worked with lacrosse teams for years I can tell you that when you have a tight knit team working together towards a common goal, magical things are possible.
CrossFit has done an amazing job of building a community.
People push each other and generally have a great vibe. Perhaps leading to the somewhat cult like obsession hard core CrossFitters have with the workout program.
Cons of CrossFit for Goalies
Here are some of the cons that I see for CrossFit workouts.
The number one of rule of any training program is to NOT get injured.
Injuries are devastating for any athlete as they move your progress backwards, not forwards.
The majority of the CrossFit exercises are done to fatigue. And many exercises are really advanced movements.
With fatigue, you lose technique.
That’s true with weightlifting and the same goes for making saves. When you get tired, you lose technique.
Even if you can do a perfect deadlift, when you have to do as many deadlifts as you can in a short time, you start losing technique.
Even if you can do a perfect deadlift, if you just sprinted 400 yards or did 50 burpees, your body is tired and you lose technique.
When you lose technique in an advanced lift, your risk for injury goes up!
The goal of training programs for goalies is to get them performing the best on the field. Not get them injured.
Not Sport Specific
Every athlete – including us lacrosse goalies – have specific needs based on the sport and position.
Any training that is done in a group setting loses the ability to specialize for a specific individual.
Talk to any strength coach and they’ll tell you the best training programs are customized to an athlete’s sport.
And also their position. An ideal training program for a defenseman is not exactly the same as a goalie.
The fact that CrossFit is done in a group setting limits the possibility of individualized programming.
Low Barrier of Entry for Coaches
As I mentioned above, CrossFit uses a lot of Olympic lifts and complex exercises like the kipping pullup.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, injury a big risk.
And that leads me to my final con of CrossFit – there are a lot of bad CrossFit coaches.
All you need is a weekend of your time, $1000, a passing score on a super simple test, and you get to call yourself a “CrossFit Trainer.” With its rise in popularity there are bad coaches out there that have horrible programming that hurt people.
Don’t get me wrong there are also a lot of great ones but the barrier to entry is pretty low.
Thus you could be a CrossFit instructor trying to push you hard but not analyzing or teaching form and thus putting all the students at risk.
So if you do CrossFit be on the lookout for inept trainers with poor attitudes, encouraging speed and weight with no concern for proper body mechanics.
Should Lacrosse Goalies Do CrossFit?
Now down to the big question, should lacrosse goalies do crossfit?
I wouldn’t rely on CrossFit as the only form of training but if you want to add CrossFit workouts into your regiment this summer – sure, why not?
The workouts mostly consistent of explosive movements so it won’t slow you down. It will make you more explosive.
Keep in mind the point about good technique and make sure every workout you do emphasizes solid technique to minimize your chance of injury.
As long as proper technique and safety are demanded I’m absolutely fine with a goalie bringing CrossFit into their training.
But you also need goalie specific workouts and other training specific to our position. CrossFit by itself is not enough to train our body to be an elite goalie.
Things like wall ball, jump rope, juggling, agility exercises, hip strengthening and flexibility.
For most goalies coming a season full of practices I wouldn’t envision this being the case – however – be very careful if you haven’t been very physically active.
Crossfit isn’t something to just hop into and go as hard as you can without learning the building blocks, just as with anything.
In my podcast episode with Niko Amato he talked about doing everything he could in his training – boxing, swimming, racketball, yoga, etc. And I agree with him that varying the training keeps things fresh and interesting and makes us a better athlete.
Video of Pros and Cons of CrossFit
Here’s a couple videos breaking down more pro’s and con’s of CrossFit:
Some lacrosse goalies out there are definitely wondering if the CrossFit workouts are good for our particular position.
While there are definitely pro’s and con’s to the CrossFit workout, at the end of the day if you’re doing the workouts with the proper form and always listening to your body, I think CrossFit is a great workout.
But it shouldn’t be your only training this summer. Do some goalie specific movements and exercises too.
You also need to be very sure that you’re working with a qualified CrossFit coach. The low barrier of entry means there are some bad coaches mixed in with the good. Working with a bad coach can be dangerous as bad form and too heavy weights could injure a goalie quickly.
Until next time! Coach Damon
Any other lacrosse goalies out there doing CrossFit? Would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave me a comment down below.
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About Coach Damon
About Coach Damon
Lacrosse is my passion! The game has given me so much and this blog is my way of giving back to the lax community. Specifically the most bad a$$ part of that community - the goalies! After learning to play goalie from scratch, I wanted to create a site where I could share what I learned with others so they too can become champions in the crease and in life. Learn more about Coach Damon.