by Megan Schneider

A late lacrosse bloomer, Florida native Bailey Mathis wasn't highly recruited. She picked up her first lacrosse stick in sixth grade, began strength training in seventh grade and finally joined a travel team as a high school junior.

But ultimately, it was Mathis' pure strength, speed and athleticism that stood out to Loyola assistant Dana Dobbie, who was determined to make Mathis a Greyhound.

As Mathis developed into a stronger lacrosse player and two-time All-Patriot League honoree Mathis took it upon herself to take the next step in her training and earn her strength coach certification, which she will test for in November. She worked with Loyola strength and conditioning coach Maura Rowland at Life Enhancement, learning how to craft programs for different sports at different stages of their seasons.

"I'm studying to be a sports psychologist," Mathis said. "I always wanted to be that person to train your mind mentally and physically, so I want to be that one-stop shop psychology with strength training on the side."

Zercher Squats

Works on: glutes, quads, core, back, biceps
Helps with: lower body strength for running, sprinting, defense and dodging

5-6 reps for 4-5 sets

Position a barbell in the crooks of your elbows with your arms bent and tight to your body.

Keeping a tall posture, lower into a squat, allowing your elbows to track inside your knees.

After lowering to the bottom of the squat, drive back up with the force through the middle of your foot.

Use a load light enough that you maintain good spinal position throughout the whole lift.

Junior Gym Rats: Dumbbell Front Squats

1. Take two dumbbells and place them on the front of your shoulders.
2. Keep a tall posture, drive your knees out and lower into a squat.
3. Drive back up with the force through the middle of your foot.
4. Use a load that will challenge you, but always make sure you are able to maintain good spinal position throughout the whole lift


Prowler Squat with Low Bar Push Back

Works on: glutes, upper back, core, arms
Helps with: explosiveness, power, knee drive

4 sets of 20-yard squat to rows with a 20-yard low bar push; once per week

Grab the handles with your arms fully extended and your body in an athletic position.

Make sure your feet are planted on the ground firmly and pull the sled toward you keeping your elbows tight to your body while aiming for the lower part of your ribs.

Take a big step back to get tension back in the straps, and repeat.

Wrap the handles around the low bar of the sled. Then grab the low bar and push the sled back to the starting position. Squeeze your glutes and keep your hips low as you push.

Cable squat and row:

Attach a double row handle to a cable tower and take a few steps back.

Make sure your feet are planted on the ground firmly and lower down into a good squat position.

Then push through your heels, drive your hips forward and pull the handle bar towards your chest.

Be sure to keep your elbows tight to your body, aiming for the lower part of your ribs.

Plate pushes:

1. Wrap a weight plate in a towel and place it on a wooden floor.
2. Lower down into a plank position and place your hands on the plate.
3. Push the plate across the floor as fast as you can.

Neutral Grip Pull-Ups

Works on: back, core, arms
Helps with: upper body strength for shooting, draw controls and defense

3-4 reps for 8-10 sets; 3+ times per week

Start with your arms fully extended hanging from the neutral grip handles, pulling your shoulders toward your back pockets.

Maintaining a tight torso, dynamically pull your body up to the bar until your upper chest contacts the handles.

After a brief pause, lower back to the start position under control, holding for one second count.

Junior Gym Rats: Neutral or chin-up isometric holds

Pull yourself up until your chest is level with the bar. If you are unable pull yourself up then use a plyo-box or bench to step up on to help you chest up to the bar.

Once you get into this position, pull your shoulders toward your back pockets, maintain a tight core, and hold for as a long as you can.