The Benefit Of Adding “Free Play” Into Lacrosse Practices

As lacrosse coaches we want a high level of structure and consistency to our offensive and defensive schemes.  On the offensive side, we want each player knowing where to be in space as a teammate initiates a dodge, set the appropriate picks at the right spots on the field at the right time, make the appropriate cuts, etc.  On defense, we want good one on one technique with correct help defense ready for 2, 3, and (if we are very fortunate!) 4 slides; as well sticking with cutters.

On the other hand, as we drill down with repetition and verbal reinforcement of these concepts, we run the risk of creating quasi-robots that may end up lacking lacrosse IQ on their own without the structure of a scheme.  This may inhibit players to think for themselves and go off script to take advantage of mismatches and other opportunities; or fail to have success as structured schemes break down as the often inevitably do.

I coached one particular young player named Jared on my high school tournament team for the past 2 years, for example, that by in large stuck to the script of our offense that we call 34 motion.  The 34 motion’s basic structure has us constantly going in and out of 1-4-1 and 1-3-2 sets with dodges and off ball movement.  Jared has an uncanny ability to note when his defender is ball watching or otherwise disengaged with him and at the right time in the game and would back door cut with an open look to the goal.  He generally only does this when the ball is in possession with players he has extensive playing experience and chemistry with that know to watch for him to do this.  Jared also sets picks in situations that the offense generally does not call for under regular circumstances simply because he notices that a defender on one of his teammates it not even remotely looking for it.

I teach my players at all levels that although we have a fundamental structure, it is important to understand that they are not robots and are encouraged within reason to get creative and use their lacrosse IQ.  The concept of incorporating what some coaches refer to as free play facilitates this.  In addition to helping to build lacrosse IQ and encourage free thinking, free play also is a great deal of fun for young players who get bored with structured drills and set offenses and defensive schemes.

A basic free play model of half field has teams of 5 split evenly with an even number of D-poles on each team and the goalie playing for both teams.  D-poles play both offense and defense and the format is basically like half court basketball.  If the defensive team gets the ball back, they have to “check” the ball by clearing it to a point 5 yards north of the restraining box to then be able to go on offense.

While middies are accustomed to playing both offense and defense, most D-poles and attack are not, so free play enhances their game by letting them experience life on the other side to to speak.  Playing an opposing position in this manner enables players better understand and exploit its weaknesses.

During free play, coaches should not intervene and coach up the players at all other than call penalties, fouls, and out of bounds change of possession.  The rest should be up to the players to dodge, move, set picks, and cut all on their own.  The result almost instantly is that the players immediately start communicating with one another offensively and defensively, especially when their teammates are out of their depth playing an unfamiliar position.

Starting each practice with 5-10 minutes of free play invigorates the players with pick up style play, enhances their lacrosse IQ, and lets them cut loose and have some fun before getting down to business.  Beyond enhancing lacrosse IQ, free play also builds bonding as the players perform free of the constraints of coaches critique or judgement, relying solely on one another.

To be sure, coaches providing consistency and structure in a team’s game on both sides of the ball is very important.  Adding the element of free play in a practice offers them an added opportunity to improvise and create on their own while having a great time in the process.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Lacrosse Players Are The Jedi Knights Of Athletics

In the fictitious world of Star Wars, the order of the Jedi has ancient origins as warriors that devote their lives to service, pay it forward by taking on Padawan apprentices and focus on the core tenants of academics, philosophy, charity, and volunteerism.   By the relative technologies available in the Star Wars universe, their weapon of choice is a relatively primitive one, using their exceptional superhuman ability and knowledge of The Force to wield it.  In the words of Obi-Won Kenobi, the light saber is “An elegant weapon…from a more civilized age.”

Like the Jedi, lacrosse has its root in ancient North American history, invented by the Native Americans and played on this continent for nearly 1000 years, long before a European ever set foot on these shores.  Like the Jedi and per my last article, most lacrosse players are not satisfied to simply excel physically, but also yearn to enhance their lives with academic and career achievement, acts of service, and are compelled to pay it forward to share their knowledge of the discipline to future generations.

The weapon of choice of the lacrosse player the lacrosse stick.  Although it has undergone many modern innovations, its basic structure of a shaft, head, and basket to carry and throw the ball remains.  Like the light saber of Star Wars, it is an elegant weapon designed by an ancient and spiritual people uniquely connected to the earth’s energy that played lacrosse to honor the Creator, for their enjoyment, and even to foster peace as an alternative to war to settle disputes.  Like the light saber of the Jedi, it is not the lacrosse stick that matters but instead, the skill and discipline of the warrior who wields it.

Unique in a country that clings to its love of traditional sports, lacrosse players feel a special sisterhood and brotherhood among one another.  I can not even count how many times I have been addressed by a random stranger who is likewise connected to the game to talk lacrosse merely because I was wearing a lacrosse themed t-shirt.

This article may seem silly or corny to some, but I don’t care.  Like most lacrosse players, I have no qualms about daring to be different and celebrating my weirdness.  Most importantly, the idea for this article came from a conversation I recently had with my 9 year old son, who like his Dad is a Star Wars nerd who loves the game of lacrosse.  Also like me, fascinated and inspired by Native American culture, beyond enjoyment of the game itself, the Native American roots of lacrosse are for him a source of attraction to the sport.

In participating in the game, my son and I both embrace the fact that we are carrying on a truly ancient New World tradition and in coaching him, he is my Padawan learner.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

What Makes Lacrosse Unique And Special Among Division I College Sports

Lacrosse is a unique game for many reasons.  Its Native American origins, the fact that is carries its own fashion sense, the fact that so many feel compelled to pay it forward and spread the game…are just a few things that make the sport of lacrosse special.  To me, however, the biggest differentiating factor about lacrosse that stands out from other college sports is that its athletes are generally primarily motivated academically.

I did my own private polling of elite high school athletes with legitimate Division I potential across three sports in my community to find out what primarily drives them in their pursuit of excellence on the field.  9 out of 10 football players stated that they are driven to play for a top Division I program to one day play in the NFL.  8 out of 10 baseball players were looking to play for a top Division I school to get drafted into MLB.  8 out of 10 lacrosse players, on the other hand, while of course they wanted the enjoyment and glory of competing on a top Division I college program, cited academics and a great education as their primary motivation.

This explains why programs like Yale, Cornell, Bucknell, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and Duke so commonly rank in the top 10.  Cornell, Princeton, Hopkins, and Duke all have won national championships.  Yale is currently undefeated and has a real shot at contending for a national championship…you would not see this in any other sport than lacrosse.

To be fair to football and baseball players, achieving the ranks of professional athlete is a potentially hugely profitable career, whereas professional lacrosse players have to get creative to supplement their meager professional lacrosse pay with coaching and training, endorsing products, etc.  Many have other careers altogether and play professional lacrosse on the side.  However, with so few players actually making it to the pros in the other two more traditional sports, the primary motivation of becoming a professional athlete is usually misguided.

Case in point, I have a friend who was a two time NJ state All-American left tackle that got a scholarship to play for a Big 10 football college.  He was successful and was First Team All-Big 10 his junior and senior seasons.  With his sights on playing in the NFL, he had neglected school and never graduated, throwing away the free education that his athletic talent earned him.

He ultimately never got drafted into the NFL and bounced around the practice squads of several teams for 2 1/2 years.  With no college degree or special skills, he now works an unskilled job that is both financially and intellectually underwhelming for a person who earned a free education.

Had my friend taken full advantage at the opportunity of a free education, he could have ended up perhaps working as a highly paid professional.  He certainly had the intelligence to do so but was overconfident in his ability to achieve what is realistically a very rare opportunity to play professional sports and so single minded in his pursuit of that goal, that he never really took his education seriously or even really had a career vision outside of football.

So many college lacrosse players I know, including several of my former teammates at Montclair State, have gone on to lucrative and interesting careers that enrich their lives.  While we all love lacrosse and cherished every moment we got to play NCAA lacrosse, we also understood that lacrosse was most likely a 4 year endeavor and our education was the real means that would be the engine for how we one day make a living for the rest of our lives.

At the time I was going through the recruiting process, I had opportunities to play at several colleges, but I chose Montclair State for its affordability as a NJ state university, its academic competitiveness, and most importantly, because they offered my intended major of biochemistry (biochemistry was a relatively new branch of science at the time that many colleges did not offer as a stand alone major).

The result was having a blast in college playing lacrosse, but then moving on to use my biochemistry degree to apply for and attend veterinary school.  While lacrosse still flows through my veins and I intend to always remain immersed in the game, I also have a fulfilling career as a small animal veterinarian.  It is the very best of both worlds and I live each day grateful for having had my cake and eaten it to.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Sifting Through The College Lacrosse Recruiting Conundrum

As parents, we are barraged with this issue virtually on a daily basis.  Whether it is an invite to create a profile on Captain U to get your kid’s name in front of college coaches or paying big money for college prospect camps, we are confronted with information overload when it comes to college lacrosse recruitment.

Big money club teams that claim to have the reputation and relationships with college coaches to get your child noticed is another increasing reality of youth and high school lacrosse.  This has become a big money industry that is lining the pockets of many, whiling costing parents a small fortune just to keep up.

The main questions are:

  • Is this all necessary?
  • Are prospect camps and high end club teams worth the money and time commitment?
  • When is the appropriate time to start all of this?

In a recent interview my friend and co-host Steve Jordan and I recently had with Florida Tech Men’s Lacrosse Assistant Coach Mark Penn on our Lacrosse and Sport Podcast, we learned that the answer is not straight forward.  I would encourage anyone interested in the college recruiting process to take a listen in the player above.

Mark was very clear that all college lacrosse programs have access to tournament databases to send personalized e-mails to parents inviting them to camps and clinics billed as “prospect camps.”  While they may be addressed seemingly directly from the head coach of that given program, according to Mark, unless you or your child has had direct correspondence with that coach, it is likely that he does not have any idea who your child is.

That begs the next point, knowing that the head coach does not know your child, is it worth paying the money and travel to go to that school to try to get noticed by that coach?  The answer Mark gave was not likely.  Prior to prospect camps, coaches have already had multiple points of contact (directly or indirectly) with the players attending that they are most interested in and subsequently come into those camps with a heavy bias toward these players.  On the other hand, if there has been legitimate outreach from a coach attending a prospect camp toward your child, knowing you are on his radar, it may well be worth attending.  The main point here is, some level of correspondence being a big key in the worth of a given prospect camp.

How about club teams?  Are they worth it from a college recruiting perspective?  Mark’s answer was maybe.  Per Mark, your average tournament is not typically crawling with college lacrosse scouts looking for their next recruits.  The main benefit in reality in playing club lacrosse in the end is getting better, playing at the highest possible level, and most importantly, having fun.

Mark noted that there are some caveats to this, but generally, especially in emerging lacrosse markets like my home state of Florida, it is realistically only players that play on teams that play out of state from the Mid-Atlantic north that generally get legitimate notice from top tier college teams.

The other caveat would be an in state team whose coach for whatever reasons may be well connected with college coaches and has the chops and reputation to get one of his players noticed.  In the end, a player still needs to perform, as club coaches will not risk damaging their reputation and credibility in recommending players that are not legitimate candidates for a given college lacrosse program.

Coach Mark Penn expanded on the podcast about many other nuances about the college lacrosse recruiting process from eye opening realities, to very helpful tips in fostering direct communication with college lacrosse coaches.  There is much more information on this topic in the podcast that I am able to list here.

As lacrosse club director, I left my conversation with Coach Mark Penn feeling a lot more capable of advising my players and parents.  Still, there is no substitute for hearing it directly from a straight talking gentleman who recruits college players year in and year out for a living.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Spring Lacrosse Preseason – HIIT & Other Ways To Get Ready To Rock 2018

Spring preseason is one of the most exciting times for the lacrosse athlete.  The upcoming season is an open slate, there for the taking for the lacrosse player to write his or her future narrative; a fresh beginning where past disappointments and failures are now irrelevant other than to serve as motivation to make one’s mark this year.

Preparation is everything.  In addition to countless shots on the back yard goal, endless time on the wall and the rebounder, and practicing dodges and cuts; one must also prepare one’s body for the grind of the upcoming season.  Endurance, speed, and power are all essential to a successful lacrosse game, as well as possessing the ability to stay healthy and free of injury.  We cannot accomplish our goals while sitting on the sideline injured.

This is where training and nutrition come in.  As I discussed with my childhood lacrosse bud and now Trainer To The Stars Jordan on a recent episode of our Lacrosse and Sport Podcast, training is so much more than running and lifting weights.  We discussed the arcane ways that we trained as high school lacrosse athletes in the 1990’s and how all to often in this day and age, these arcane methods are still employed by coaches and Dads imparting their past training experiences on their kids.

Steve highlighted, for example, High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short.  HIIT consists of intervals of high intensity movement immediately followed by intervals of low to moderate intensity movement.  According to Steve, this offers the benefit of providing both a strength/power benefit to training in combination with a cardiovascular benefit to training.  Steve also noted that this also offers a more dynamic structure to training that better simulates and prepares the body for the physical taxing of the actual game: think of  a player huffing it down down on a fast break then transitioning to ripping a shot…a combination of speed, endurance, and power.  IN this spirit, Steve created a LAXFIT 6 week training program that incorporates HIIT and other training techniques invaluable for lacrosse season preparation.

From a nutritional standpoint, Steve declined to offer specific or overly detailed dietary regimens, but instead offered these basic guidelines:

  • If you look at the label of any food and there is an ingredient that you cannot pronounce, don’t eat it.
  • If the food did not exist 1000 years ago or was not around when your grandparents were kids, don’t eat it.
  • Don’t drink soda.
  • Don’t eat fast food.

Recovery is also key in preparing for the season.  As we push our bodies to the limit to maximize our potential in gaining speed, strength, and resilience against injury, our bodies need ample sleep and rest to recover and provide us net gains.  Nutrition plays a huge role in recovery, but in addition to ample sleep, it is also important that the training regimen is varied in a manner to prevent over training.  Thus, if is not cost prohibitive, a personal trainer or group training with a certified trainer is ideal to.

Now is the time to start your 2018 spring lacrosse journey.  Remember, how you do one thing is how your do everything!

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Things To Look Forward To In 2018 For Lacrosse

Every year changes are made in the game of lacrosse in an attempt to continually improve the experience and growth of our beloved sport.  Changes come primarily from US Lacrosse and occasionally from other governing bodies like the NCAA.  Most of the time, changes end up being for the better.

For 2018, one of the exciting developments carrying over into youth lacrosse groups from last year is youth leagues across the country taking the plunge to implement small ball for optimal development of young lacrosse athletes.  The small ball approach maintains smaller field sizes and team sizes.  The result is that players get more touches of the ball and remain more consistently engaged in play.  See the link below for the current US Lacrosse youth small ball guidelines:

https://www.uslacrosse.org/blog/us-lacrosse-announces-new-boys-youth-rules

What spurred this initiative was reporting by the Sport and Fitness Industry Association that 2007 – 2014, the number of children aged 6-12 participating in traditional sports (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, track and field) dropped precipitously from 35% to 27%.  During the same time, the same study concluded that hockey participation grew by a stellar 43% (lacrosse during this time lacrosse grew by a more modest 29%).

Looking to emulate the success of USA Hockey in shortening the size of the hockey rinks and goals for young lacrosse players led to the new small ball standard for maximizing development and enjoyment in the the sport of lacrosse.

From the college recruiting side of lacrosse, we can look forward to a new era where young lacrosse players can enjoy the sport without the pressure of the college recruiting process.  In a vote that went down last year, college coaches are now prohibited from making contact with players before September of their junior year of high school.  In a college recruiting process that had players signing commitment letters as ridiculously early as 7th grade, this is a huge development.

As already mentioned, this restriction facilitates unbridled enjoyment of the sport without the pressure of the college recruiting process that can be overwhelming to young athletes. It also evens the playing field for young athletes that are late bloomers that may have otherwise gotten passed over in the recruiting process simply because they needed more time to hit puberty.

In girls and women’s lacrosse news for 2018, they will now be allowed to use lacrosse sticks with pockets strung with mesh.  This will offer girls and women more variation in their preference for different pocket types that the boys and men’s game has enjoyed since the 1980’s.  Lax.com has already begin selling girls and women’s lacrosse heads strung with custom mesh pockets for 2018.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

US Lacrosse New Age Guidelines Present Challenges For Emerging Lacrosse Markets

Having been associated with US Lacrosse for many years and having been appreciative of their guidance as they advocate for the growth of the sport of lacrosse, I understand how much time and research they put into their decisions.  Thus, from the outset of this article, I want to be clear that I admire and respect US Lacrosse and appreciate their efforts and guidance.  Many decisions are made for the greater good and will inevitably render some unwanted consequences.  The US Lacrosse age segmentation policy effective 9/1/2017 is a clear example.

US Lacrosse this year transitioned away this year for the under age categorization to an age and under categorization.  For example, the old U15 age bracket which would have represented players that were under the age of 15 as of the US Lacrosse cut off date of 8/31/2017 is now 14U with the new cut off date of 9/1/2017.  Under the U15 categorization, 15 year old athletes could play youth ball provided that they turned 15 after the cut off date.  In the 14U classification, 15 year old players are now eliminated from youth lacrosse eligibility.

I understand the intent here, which is to establish age categories that correspond more closely with the grade most kids fall into in a given age bracket, and in the case of the 14U division, this generally prohibits any high school freshmen from participating in youth lacrosse, making 8th grade the final year that a player may participate in youth lacrosse.

For long established lacrosse markets like my childhood state of New Jersey and other areas like New York, Maryland, etc., this does not generally present any challenges since most of these areas have thriving middle school, JV, and Varsity programs.  However, in my adopted home state of Florida and particularly the Florida Space Coast where the sport is still very much in emerging market phase, we are facing difficulties at the 14U division and its enforcement.

One of the most pressing concerns is that we have several counties that do not have middle school athletic teams and high school programs that do not have enough players to field JV teams.  This translates to still prepubescent and/or still developmental freshmen either being promoted to varsity or not playing at all.  Such a move puts such a player in physical danger often pitting a young player who is essentially a boy or girl against young men or women.  It also stifles lacrosse skill development for players who struggle just to physically keep up with far more developed athletes that they should have no business going up against.

Another issue is players that have been held back a year for academic reasons.  Although a player may be in 8th grade, he/she will likely be ineligible to play youth lacrosse, yet he/she cannot play JV because he/she is not a member of the high school.  On the flip side, there are academically gifted players that have skipped a grade which would make such a player a high school freshmen, still youth age eligible, but deemed ineligible for youth lacrosse due to school year.

These are all of the issues we are facing in our lacrosse county rec league here in the Florida Space Coast, the Brevard Lacrosse Alliance.  I know that we are not alone in the state of Florida, hearing the issue raised among colleagues all over the state.  I am certain that other states that are still emerging lacrosse markets are in similar predicaments.

Thankfully, US Lacrosse at this time provides these guidelines as exactly that: guidelines.  At this time, I have been assured by US Lacrosse, that tweaking the guidelines for the unique needs of the individual programs will not at this time affect our liability concerns as it pertains to program insurance obtained via US Lacrosse.  Also, this really is only an issue at the 14U level and seems to work just fine for all younger divisions.

Our ultimate policy in being a club that feels strongly about following US Lacrosse guidelines as closely as we possibly can, is that we intend to follow US Lacrosse guidelines for every division with the exception of our oldest youth division.  Our policy is to enforce the 14U age bracket with exceptions for the allowance of 15U age eligible freshmen that are not concurrently on a JV or varsity roster.

Enforcement may prove challenging as our league grows, but by the time that becomes an issue, we are hopeful that with the growth of our numbers and more high school programs having thriving JV programs, the 14U age classification will no longer be as much of an issue.

We remain grateful for US Lacrosse and their national leadership in the sport of lacrosse.  We are also grateful for the flexibility in transitioning to strive to meet their guidelines.  A lot of smart people with countless years of experience in the sport of lacrosse and sports science that work for US Lacrosse constantly debate these issues which gives us tremendous respect for their adopted policies.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Beware – Female Athletes Significantly More Prone To ACL Tears Of The Knee!

The anterior cruciate ligament is the major stabilizing ligament of the knee joint.  It is one of the most common sports related injuries that leads to athletes losing significant time on the field and can be career altering.  One in 3000 athletes will experience an ACL tear in general according to the Orthopedic Specialists of North Carolina.

There are two types of ACL tears that occur in athletes, contact and non-contact injuries.  Contact injuries lead to tear as the result of collision or impact, while non-contact ACL tears are the result of simple plant and pivot.  It is the latter, the non-contact ACL tear, that female athletes experience at a rate 5 times greater than males.

I am fortunate to have a great resource on this topic, friend, childhood lacrosse buddy, lacrosse podcast co-host, and trainer to the stars Steve Jordan (SteveJordanFitness.com).  According to Steve, there are key reasons why females are structurally at greater risk for ACL injury:

  1. Females’ knees are more  “turned in” (toward the midline of the body).
  2. Females’ knees are less bent when jumping and landing.
  3. Females jump and run with the soles of the feet in a more rigid position and directed away from the body’s center of gravity.

Much of these differences, according to Steve, is the result of unique anatomical difference in the pelvic cradle of females that is designed to facilitate child bearing.

In light of these findings, we not only have a better understanding of the answer to the question of why female athletes are so much more predisposed to ACL tears, but also have the ability to prescribe a solution. Even more exciting, the solution is not some new, outlandish, complicated, surgical procedure requiring months of recovery, but a comprehensive preventative rehabilitation program that can be performed by any athlete.

In the lacrosse club that I preside over in my community, we are fortunate to have a girls coach that is a physical therapist by trade, whose main role is to warm our girls up and coordinate conditioning sessions designed to prevent ACL tears and other injuries.  I believe it is in the best interests of any female athletic organization to have similar expertise in the management of injury prevention programs.  Whether it be a physical therapist or a highly educated and experienced athletic trainer like Steve Jordan to integrate into an organization for this purpose, it is a worthy and justified investment that will prove priceless in keeping the girls safe.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Managing Pain In Athletes Without Medications And Their Side Effects

My Lacrosse and Sport Podcast co-host and life long friend Steve Jordan and I recently had an informative interview with our mutual long life long friend, Dr. Brian Paris (episode in player above).  Brian is a chiropractor that has expanded his knowledge and technical expertise throughout his impressive career, recruited the very best talent representing a vast diversity of medicine, and combined them in his integrative Pain and Arthritis Relief Center in Rockville, Maryland.

I would encourage my readers to give the episode a listen, especially those who either themselves suffer from chronic pain or have child athletes that may have chronic injuries or conditions that cause pain and interfere with their quality of life and enjoyment of sports.  Even the healthiest of young athletes will experience at least minor injuries on occasion.  Even the mere act of simply growing can cause pain in young athletes that leads to down time, as seen in cases of Sever’s Disease and Osgood-Schlatter Disease.

A victim of a gastrointestinal ulcer from taking anti-inflammatory medication as a child athlete, Brian and practitioners like him seek treatment modalities that relieve pain and heal without negative side effects as some medications can cause.  In my conversations with Brian and upon review of his center’s website, two key approaches in particular stuck out to me with regard to the scope and readership of this blog.

The first was pioneered by Brian’s colleague Andrew Bloch, a physical therapist and acupuncturist who developed a trade marked therapeutic combination of Eastern and Western disciplines called Reflexive Pattern Therapy.  Straight from the Pain and Arthritis Relief Center’s website:

RPT™ focuses on particular patterns within the autonomous nervous system that, when located and corrected, relieve chronic pain. The technique uses reflexes as a tool to fix these patterns, but instead of using a reflex hammer, Andrew uses his hands to deliver fast, pressurized contact movements to patients’ problem areas. These movements evoke a reflex from the patient, causing the body to react with equal momentum, resulting in immediate pain relief.  Once the pain is alleviated with RPT™, Andrew turns his focus to the somatic nervous system and equips his patients with stretches to strengthen their core for long-term relief. No pills or surgery are involved. The biggest benefit of RPT™? Patients feel better instantaneously. In Andrew’s own words, “You will feel better immediately. Not a day or two days later, but right away.”

The second therapeutic approach is for specific sports injuries like tendonitis, bursitis, muscle and ligament strains/sprains, etc. Brian’s practice applies an approach they call RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) while also correcting postural deficiencies in the athlete that may be predisposing the body to these injuries.

Brian and his team’s approach to pain and arthritis relief reminds me a great deal of a similar branch of my field of veterinary medicine called “veterinary rehabilitation.”  As an integrative veterinarian, while I always seek minimally invasive and side effect free courses of therapy, we also understand that there are some cases that require surgery.  A CCL tear (the veterinary equivalent of an ACL tear) will not never heal without surgical intervention.  Thus, one of the most important tenants of veterinary rehabilitation is “if it is unstable, send it to the table.”  As a result, in the same day, I may surgically reduce a fracture, repair a CCL tear, use my Class IV therapy laser, and perform acupuncture.

With the exception of ACL tears, compound or displaced fractures and other injuries that necessarily require surgery at least in the first phase of treatment, I would encourage anyone who lives with chronic pain of musculo-skeletal or neurological origin to seek out facilities like the Pain and Arthritis Relief Center in Rockville, Maryland.  While it benefits people of all ages to minimize dependence on medications, it is especially important for children try avoiding drugs with internal organs are still developing.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

LaxFIT – Lacrosse Specific Strength, Conditioning, and Agility Training

In my article immediately preceding this one, I wrote of the dynamite summer Pro Camp that a team of professional lacrosse players, college assistants, and my long time friend, celebrity trainer (and former NJ All-State Midfielder) Steve Jordan put on for our Space Coast lacrosse community.  The main objective Steve brings to the camp is the strength, speed, and agility portion.

This year, Steve came with two very novel concepts.  The first was a 6 weeks pre-season lacrosse specific training program he calls LaxFIT. Even more uniquely, it is attainable (for an incredibly reasonable price) via online video training modules that the user logs into and completes the program on their own schedule on their own time.

Steve and I recently had an indepth discussion about this in our latest “Lacrosse and Sport” podcast (player is above) and I would encourage to anyone reading to take a listen to it to hear about the LaxFIT program straight from Steve.  While there is so much more to his LaxFIT concept, the main points that I took from our talk was that:

1.) The program is all high intensity interval training that does not require special equipment purchase.

2.) The movements and program are designed specifically for the physical needs unique to a male or female lacrosse player.

3.) It is a day by day 6 week recipe for lacrosse players of all ages to ready themselves for their upcoming lacrosse season.

You can learn more about Steve’s program by listening to our LaxFIT episode above or by visiting this link below:

https://www.stevejordanfitness.com/lax-fit

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.