By Steve Guglielmo | 7/11/12 2:40 PM
On Saturday, June 30, Kyle Hartzell made history. At halftime of the MLL All-Star game, Hartzell won his second consecutive “Fastest Shot” competition and tied a world record in the process. With a shot of 111 miles per hour, Hartzell tied Paul Rabil for fastest lacrosse shot ever.
After taking home the title last year with a shot of 102 miles per hour, Hartzell redoubled his efforts this offseason. “I worked on my shooting a lot more during the offseason,” said the Ohio Machine Defenseman. “I spent a lot of time shooting with Paul (Rabil). Working on my shooting every day and putting in work with my shot paid off. The more you shoot, the easier it is when it comes time to step into a shot and let it rip.”
A lacrosse shot is an incredibly complex process. It requires precise movements, coordination and balance. “You have to get your whole body into the shot,” Hartzell says. “Getting your shoulders turned around and getting your core snapping through is so important. I tell kids to put their whole body into it. Of course, it’s different when you get a 20-yard sprint at it and you can plant and snap through as fast as you can. But even in a game, shooting is a whole-body motion. You use your legs, feet, arms, shoulders, back and core.”
To perfect that process requires hours of practice. “The kids that have their stick in their hands all the time and are constantly hitting the wall are the ones who will improve,” says Hartzell. “The kids who just sit around and play video games won’t get any better. I’m 26 years old and I hit the wall four times per day. I still use the same wall ball routine that I used in high school and college. You can’t improve without putting the work in.”
Of course, a huge part of why Hartzell and Rabil are able to shoot 111 miles per hour is because they are both fitness animals. “I keep a pretty strict lifting regiment with Coach Jay Dyer,” Hartzell says. “He is one of the main reasons that I still play today. We work on explosiveness, agility and power movements. Everything we do is a lacrosse-specific workout.” Combining that strength with perfect fundamentals is the reason why MLL superstars consistently shoot more than 100 miles per hour.
Another advantage that Hartzell has in generating speed and scoring goals is his long pole. “With that much extra stick it’s harder to get the stick around but you can shoot harder because you have that much more torque generated with the extra steel,” he says. The physics backs that assertion up. According to the “Sports Science” video below, “The further an object is from its axis of rotation, the faster its linear speed.” The extra length in the pole allows Hartzell to generate even more speed by moving the ball further from his core and hips where his rotation is generated.
“The technique is the same as shooting with a short stick, but the length allows you to shoot harder,” says Hartzell.
While Hartzell has earned his reputation as a sharpshooter, his focus isn’t on speed and power. “When I shoot, I’m not concentrating on power. I’m concentrating on accuracy. The power comes naturally from working out and repetition.”
Hartzell, who co-owns and operates Rogue Lacrosse with John Porcell, who strings Hartzell’s sticks including the one that he set the record with, and Terry Kimener, preaches the overhand shot during camps and clinics. “Every goal that I have scored on this season has been overhand. I try to put my shots on the pipes, so all of my shots finish just inside the pipes, which is the hardest shot for a goalie to stop,” he says. “Shooting fast is great but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t put the ball where you want it. My main message for kids is to continuously work on your game. The speed will come.”
As for defending his crown for a third time? “I’ll definitely shoot again next year,” he says. “And I can almost guarantee you that Paul will enter next year too. He’s so competitive that he’s going to want to show up next year and win it.” That will be a treat for all MLL fans.
MLL will host its 2012 Championship Weekend presented by Warrior on August 25 and 26 at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Mass. It will be a battle of the top four teams and will include two semi-final games on Saturday followed by the championship game on Sunday. Tickets are available now via Ticketmaster.com. To learn more about the 2012 MLL Championship Weekend presented by Warrior click here. The games will be televised live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.