Weight training becoming a factor in lacrosse

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In the fall, David Glynn was a game-changer at wide receiver for the Lake Forest football team.

The junior averaged over 15 yards per catch, scoring six touchdowns. His ability to catch the ball in tight spaces and separate from defenders was key to his production.

Now in the spring, the 6-foot-1 Glynn has traded padded pants for knee-high shorts. The speed and power that made him an explosive playmaker on the football field have also accelerated his development in lacrosse.

“Kids are getting bigger and faster. There’s more competition,” Glynn said. “It probably makes it more challenging, which is good for the game.”

Glynn is part of a Lake Forest lacrosse team that was a state runner-up in 2012. He, along with senior Andrew Clifford and junior Jack Yale, were members of the Scouts’ Class 6A state semifinalist football team in the fall. Year-round weight training is not a new concept in football, but applying a similar regiment of strength and conditioning to lacrosse has improved the Scouts’ program in recent years.

Now in his fourth season as Lake Forest coach, Dan Maigler has guided the Scouts to three consecutive Illinois High School Lacrosse Association A-Class state tournament appearances. Maigler said when he started coaching 12 years ago, there were maybe one or two players who could dominate a game. Not today.

“The overall athleticism is better,” Maigler said. “We are getting kids where five years ago it was an afterthought. Now they are staying with lacrosse.”

Maigler said that in the past few years, coaches at Lake Forest have encouraged non-football athletes to lift weights with football players. The workouts build physical power and strength, two baseline fundamentals necessary to maximize performance in both sports.

“There’s a tremendous amount of carryover from the weight room in developing explosiveness, quickness and endurance,” Lake Forest strength coach Larry Lilja said.

For almost 30 years, Lilja ran Northwestern University’s strength and conditioning program. He came to Lake Forest in 2011 to work with the football team. He said he has noticed that many young athletes are undersized and can benefit from a weight training program that first develops a base of strength.

For example, lacrosse requires a lot of starting and stopping. When Lilja works with lacrosse players, he focuses on exercises that enhance burst and acceleration.

“They have to go from a dead start to full speed in a shorter amount of time,” Lilja said.

“You’re trying to increase explosiveness, use their fast-twitch fibers.”

That ability is one reason Glynn received a lacrosse scholarship offer from Division I Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., last summer and made a verbal commitment. Three times a week, year-round, Glynn trains with Lilja. For lacrosse, he focuses on his lower body and core muscles. His squat max of 355 pounds — on a 175-pound frame — gives him much-needed leg power to maneuver through tight windows.

“It helps with everything,” said Glynn, who is a midfielder for the Scouts. “If I’m trying to get by guys, it gives me a quicker first step. If I’m in close contact (with defenders) I have to find a way to come in with the ball and release and shoot it.

“You have to be tough and fast and able to do it all.”

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