Straight Shooters answers your youth lacrosse questions with the help of US Lacrosse experts. This week's "Straight Shooter," Lindsey Biles, of Annapolis, was an All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist during her college career at Princeton, and was a member of the 2006-07 U.S. Women's National Team. Biles also works as a sideline analyst for ESPNU.
Q: I know how important speed is at the college level, and I don't know how to control my speed, making me faster when I need it. Basically, how can you get faster - faster with your speed and being quick while you're trying to dodge a defender or an attacker? - Lucy, 14
A: Speed is important, and some players are naturally faster than others, but you can improve your speed through conditioning and strength training.
For conditioning, set a goal of running 1-2 miles three times a week, ideally throughout the year but most definitely three months prior to the start of your season. If you haven't been running frequently, I wouldn't try to make a time in this range the first time out, but it is a good milestone to gradually work toward.
Sprinting drills are extremely important for developing quickness, agility and fast feet. Set two cones or pick two landmarks 10 yards apart, and sprint back and forth between them as many times as you can in 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds and repeat.
Lateral drills, such as pushing side-to-side off one foot to another while running forward, will help develop muscles needed to execute a good dodge or maintain good positioning as a defender.
To strengthen your legs, deep-lunge walk for 15 yards.
As for dodging defenders, practice split or face dodges using a trashcan as an imaginary defender.
Straight Shooters runs every Sunday in The Sun and at baltimoresun.com. E-mail your youth lacrosse questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include a phone number for e-mail verification. The series can also be found on Lacrosse Magazine online at www.laxmagazine.com. US Lacrosse, headquartered in Baltimore, is the national governing body of men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more about playing, coaching and officiating lacrosse at www.uslacrosse.org.