The Lacrosse, Rugby, and Soccer Player Prepares for the Military (a series)

Air Force rugby player Ryan Dombrock is tackled while his teammates prepare to ruck the Army defenders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Greg C. Biondo)

There are a few sports that you can group together and call them “similar” because of the running and cardiovascular endurance mixed with speed and agility that are involved.  For this article, the sports of lacrosse, rugby, and soccer are similar is those respects.  However, you may see the lax and rugby players in the weight room more in the off-season mainly due to the amount of contact that is involved in those sports.  Here are the strengths and weaknesses brought to the table as athletes from these sports prepare to join the military:

Middle Distance Running Sports - Strengths for the Military Recruit (Intangibles)

The three sports of lacrosse, rugby, and soccer are growing in popularity so you will often see more and more recruits with backgrounds in one or more of these sports. The amount of running during games and practices is ideal for military preparation.  Typically, a timed run is not an issue for this type of athlete and picking up any running program for tougher events like 3-5 mile timed runs are picked up quickly without much overuse injury occurring. Often these athletes have already experienced many of these overuse injuries during their years of training and practicing, therefore becoming more resilient to these type of aches and pains due to running.  The reason why is the large amount of acceleration and deceleration puts high forces on their legs. Healthy athletes in these sports do well with military training transition.

Mental Toughness – There is some mental toughness gained from playing sports where mile sprints and 300yd shuttle runs back to back are common place in workouts. Running 100m after 100m sprints is common place for the soccer and lacrosse and rugby player. Consider this extreme interval running training that does push you to be tougher. The solid foundation of muscle stamina, and endurance as well as strength for the rugby and lax players enable these athletes to move quickly into more of the weight bearing and rucking events in the military. Playing with aches and pains however (taped ankles, knees, shoulders etc) is common for these sports.

Competitor / Teammate – These sports are great for building team unity and spirit working together.  Joining the military is a team and having that experience is invaluable for the young recruit every year of your military career.

Strengths for the Military Recruit (Tangibles)

Hybrid Athlete of Skills, Strength and Muscle Stamina – Hand eye coordination (as well as foot-eye coordination) is off the chart for these athletes. Even though they are not lifting as much as the football player or running at much as the cross-country runner, these athletes have a healthy mix of fast running, middle distance running, speed and agility, as well as strength (especially in the legs).  All of these three athletes are easy to make strength training gains (weights / calisthenics). 

Obstacle Courses – Because of the amount of speed and agility accomplished by these athletes, they tend to do well with obstacle courses as long as they have good technique for doing rope climbs and have long lasting grip strength. All of these athletes will need to work on their grip strength and forearm stamina.

Lacrosse, Rugby, and Soccer Weaknesses for the Military Recruit

Specifics – Depending upon the branch of service of the recruits of these sports, you may have to do longer distance running and / or rucking (Army / USMC). You may have to learn how to swim and pass swim tests if in the Navy and Coast Guard and some elements of Special Ops and USMC.  Some of these skills will depend on off season practice or summer jobs as a life guard will help tremendously with transitioning into certain military branches.


Regardless of your athletic background, becoming a tactical athlete requires taking your current strengths and molding them to the service requirements. But you cannot neglect your current weaknesses that could be detrimental to the new recruit.  If you are a current athlete in these sports, keep it up.  When in the off season, get specific to the branch of service that you are considering.  You may need to add in some rucking, swimming, more running, and perhaps lifting so the load bearing events of rucking, boat carries, or logs do not crush you.  But for the most part, the lacrosse, rugby, and soccer player will bring some of the strengths needed to master military training programs. 

Related Video Discussion: Lax, Rugby, or Soccer Player Prepares for Special Ops

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Cross Country Endurance Running Athlete

Swimming Athlete

Powerlifting Football Athlete

CrossFit Athlete

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