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Going All-in on Attack with Alyssa Murray

It’s all about putting in the work and trusting the process. 

Nobody knows that better than Philadelphia Force attacker Alyssa Murray who helped lead her team to an undefeated 2018 season, capped by a UWLX championship win.

So, what’s the secret to her success? The Syracuse alum has always been about keeping things fresh and finding unique ways to increase her flexibility to stay on top of her game. Whether it’s spin classes, HIIT (high intensity interval training), boxing, or an unconventional round of #wallball, you can bet Alyssa is going for it and using it to improve her performance on the field. 

We recently sat down with Alyssa to dig into her training routine and she shared a few of her top tips and favorite drills for growing as an attacker. Prepare to take notes...

1. Sharpen your stick skills 

As a lacrosse player, you hear it all the time — stick skills are everything. In our sport, it’s all about making the stick an extension of your body and, as a player, that’s part of what makes the game so challenging and interesting. 

When it comes to honing my stickwork, I always go back to the wall! My go-to drills are bad pass and quick hands:

Bad Pass Wall Ball: It’s easy to work with a good pass. Bad pass wall ball takes your stickwork to another level by feeding you passes that don’t land perfectly on your stick. The ball bounces off the wall at a slightly awkward angle, but you still have to find a way to catch it! I like to do this closer to the end of my wall ball workout once I’ve gotten into a rhythm with my stick. 

Quick Hands Wall Ball: This is another drill I typically do later in my wall ball session. Two goals I’ve set for myself are (1) Having a lighter, softer touch and (2) Having a quicker release time after catching the ball. With the quick hands drill, you throw the ball to the side of the wall opposite your stick and then switch hands so that when the ball comes back, it’s still on your stick side. 

Alyssa’s weapon of choice? The Crux 600 head and handle — click here for all the specs!

2. Treat yo self (and your muscles)

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how important it is to be proactive about treating and caring for my body to avoid burn-out. My new obsession is cryotherapy, which involves freezing parts of the body to loosen and relax the muscles. I’ve found it especially helpful when I’m experiencing pain or physical stress from training — it helps me to recover and gives me an energy boost for the rest of the day. Usually, I do cryo for a quick (cold!) three minutes, followed by 20 minutes of NormaTec, which is a form of compression therapy that helps to reduce swelling and get the blood circulating to speed up recovery. 

Alyssa catches up with fellow Syracuse alum and Long Island Sound defender Becca Block for some quality NormaTec (and dog) time.

3. Fine-tune that footwork

As an offensive player, I’m at my best when my feet feel really light and quick, so I always put in a little extra time on box drills to work on turns and quick changes of direction.  There are so many variations you can do to get a good sweat in while also “waking up” your feet to stay on your defenders’ heels.

4. Shoot to score

This is true of any sport, but in lacrosse it’s especially important — it’s not about the number of shots you take. The net is small and the goalie occupies most of the space. It’s all about the number of shots you make. As an attacker, it’s easy to get hyped on the thrill of taking a shot. As a competitor, it’s easy to get carried away with wanting to take the most shots. And in lacrosse, it’s easy to let the pace of the game overtake the need to be strategic. But when you focus on making your shots instead of taking them, you’ll be more focused on the form and process of each rep and actually put more points up on the scoreboard. 

5. Dominate the dodge

When working on a new dodge, I like to break it down into three parts — approach, change of direction, and the seal-off. I break each part out on its own and go over it slowly, gradually building up speed. Once I’ve gone over each part several times, then I put it all together. As soon as I feel like my feet have a handle on the steps, I go through the dodge several times at full speed. 

Even though it’s a little tedious, I’ve found that this process works for me because it’s super technical and specific on form. It helps to build my personal confidence in the move, which means I’m more likely to try it in a game. 

To put the ball in the back of the net, you need a sweet set-up and string job to match your skill set. Check out these tips from elite stringer Charlier Shearer on achieving the perfect pocket for your playing style. 

Play like a UWLX champion: Get Alyssa’s full gear set-up (head, pocket, wand & goggles) here.