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ATP-PC Focus

This is an excerpt from Complete Conditioning for Lacrosse by Thomas K. Howley.

Lacrosse is a game of speed and speed endurance. Sudden breakaways, fast-paced offensive systems that force the defense to react to split-second movements, and defensive slides or switches to cover offensive attackers are all performed in the ATP-PC zone. The athlete who can accelerate, dodge, slide, and pivot at the highest level of intensity for the longest period of time has the greatest opportunity to be successful. Most activities on game day require the activation of this energy system, thus making it the most important element in the training plan. Speed is properly addressed in a progressive, gradual manner with longer rest intervals between reps. Coming to a state of almost complete recovery is necessary - especially early on - to develop high-quality adaptation. As levels of absolute acceleration and speed are improved, a gradual introduction of speed endurance events will properly transition the athlete to competition mode. Patience, preparation, and thoughtful design are necessary to elicit the desired response: speed!


In the initial stages of training, it may be necessary to work on speed before deterioration of the central nervous system occurs in order to maximize the mind - body connection and develop running technique and muscle memory. As the training phase progresses, speed endurance can be addressed at any time during the workout to improve speed under conditions of stress. Several common training protocols focused on the ATP-PC system are as follows.


Repeat Hill or Stadium Sprints

Another way to intensify the sprint conditioning is to use a hill or stadium steps. Depending on the distance available, the resisted sprints can include short, intermediate or longer distances (or a combination). In a team setting, coaches can split the team into smaller groups and race up the hill or steps (with a walk-down afterward) either among individuals or as a relay.


The athlete should begin at the bottom of the hill or stadium at the start line and wait for the command. Once the command is given, sprint the distance to the finish line and sprint through the finish line. For safety purposes, walk down (don’t run) to the start line and prepare for the next rep.


An example of a hill workout is as follows:

  • 10 yards × 4 reps as fast as possible with a walk-down and a :45 rest between reps.
  • 25 yards × 3 reps as fast as possible with a walk-down and a 1:00 rest between reps.
  • 50 yards × 2 reps as fast as possible with a walk-down and a 1:30 rest between reps.
  • 25 yards × 3 reps as fast as possible with a walk-down and a 1:00 rest between reps.


10 yards × 4 reps as fast as possible with a walk-down and a :45 rest between reps.


Repeat Linear Sprints

Repeat linear sprints without resistance are performed at 100 percent of intensity over a distance of 10 to 50 yards with sufficient recovery given between reps so that the athlete can maintain as close to 100 percent intensity as possible. Early in the training process, the athlete should be given at least 5 seconds of recovery for every second of activity (a 1:5 work to rest ratio). The athlete should select the distance based on the space available. A shorter distance is used for these intervals because the ATP-PC energy system is targeted. The number of reps could be as few as 6 to 8 or as many as 18 to 20. A sample repeat linear sprint workout is as follows.

  • 30 yards × 2 reps (100% of sprint capacity with :25 rest)
  • 20 yards × 4 reps (100% of sprint capacity with :15 rest)
  • 10 yards × 6 reps (100% of sprint capacity with :10 rest)
  • 20 yards × 4 reps (100% of sprint capacity with :15 rest)
  • 30 yards × 2 reps (100% of sprint capacity with :25 rest)


Repeat Linear Sprints With Resistance

For developing speed endurance, resistance sprints can be incorporated into the training progression. Sleds, Prowlers, and other resistance-based equipment can add intensity and require the athlete to be mentally strong to handle the added stress. The sprints are performed at 100 percent of intensity for a distance of 10-50 yards.


The athlete begins behind the designated starting line and, at the command, sprints at 100 percent of intensity through the finish line, turns the sled or Prowler in the opposite direction and waits for the start of the next rep. For these types of sprints, the work to rest ratio is usually between 1:3 and 1:5.


An example of a sled pull workout is as follows:

  • 30 yards × 4 reps (each rep is at 100% of sprint capacity with a 1:5 work:rest ratio)
  • 20 yards × 6 reps (each rep is at 100% of sprint capacity with a 1:4 work:rest ratio)
  • 10 yards × 8 reps (each rep is at 100% of sprint capacity with a 1:3 work:rest ratio)

Learn more about Complete Conditioning for Lacrosse.