Lacrosse 101 – The Basics
If your son shows an interest in lacrosse, ensuring that he has a positive lacrosse experience should be your main goal as a parent. Your support and encouragement will be essential, and to best support your son, you’ll need to learn as much as possible about the game. From the basic rules to the lacrosse gear they’ll needs, this guide will give you the information needed to help your son have an exciting, safe time while engaging in this sport.
History of the Game
Pop Quiz: What is the national game of Canada?
Hockey right? It has to be hockey…Canadian kids are born holding hockey sticks aren’t they? Actually, (as you have probably guessed by now) lacrosse is the national game of Canada, not hockey. Lacrosse is very widely played throughout Canada and has been a very popular sport in the Northeastern U.S. for quite some time now. The last 10-15 years has seen a boom in lacrosse popularity across the U.S, moving South and West across the country. Lacrosse is now played from coast to coast and according to many sources like The Business Insider, has been the fastest growing sport in the U.S. since 2010.
Lacrosse originated with the American Indians, starting as a male team sport. While the rules varied among various tribes, the one rule that was observed by all was that the hands could not touch the ball. The lacrosse stick used varied between southeastern, northeastern and Great Lakes tribes. For example, the Great Lakes tribes, such as the Santee Dakota and Potawatomi, used a stick that was three-feet long, while southeastern tribes used two sticks that were two-and-a-half feet long. Not only did American Indians use the game recreationally, but the games were also surrounded in ceremonialism.
As your son continues to play lacrosse, you’ll undoubtedly learn more about the game. However, for now you need to know the basic rules. Played by two teams, each team has 10 players. Players work to get the ball into the opposing team’s goal, and the team scoring the most goals by the end of the game, wins. Youth games generally last 40 minutes, high-school games last 48 minutes and collegiate games last 60 minutes.
During play, players use crosses to pass, catch, and run with the lacrosse ball. The goalie is the only player allowed to touch the ball with his hands. Body checking and stick checking both are used to try to obtain the ball. However, personal fouls may be called if body checks or stick checks are used inappropriately.
Field positions for a boy’s lacrosse team include a goalie, three defense players, three midfielder’s and three attack players. The goalie must prevent the other team from scoring, protecting the goal at all times. Defense players help defend the goal and the goalie and they typically stay on the defensive ‘3rd’ of the field. Midfielders play defense and offense, playing the entire field, which requires stamina and speed. The attack position involves scoring goals and working with the other attack and midfield players to pass the ball to score goals. Like defensemen, attackmen typically stay on their side of the field.
Essential Lacrosse Equipment
Lacrosse gear must be worn while playing the game. Boys require a lacrosse stick, a helmet, gloves, shoulder pads, cleats, a mouth guard and arm pads. Optional equipment includes protective chest pads, helmet addons and protective rib pads. Goalies will also require goal-tending equipment.
Gear is by far the largest source of stress for new Lacrosse parents. Fear not, big box stores like Academy and Dick’s Sporting goods has a good variety of new brand name gear in most youth sizes. However, while Lacrosse is a fantastic game, it is not for everyone. Before making any significant investments in new gear, used gear can be obtained for much less. You can get used gear from places like:
- Play it Again Sports
- Current players
The one exception here has to do with helmets. While they are not cheap, a new or lightly used helmet would be your best bet. Aside from the safety advances in helmets over the last couple of years, there are also rules for helmet age that are randomly enforced by game referees. Your son’s coach and even other team parents are usually more than happy to help you make the right gear choices for your son.
Lacrosse offers an excellent way for your son to stay fit and enjoy the benefits of playing a team sport. However, without your support, it will be difficult for your son to succeed. Keep the basics in mind and continue learning more about the sport, providing the encouragement your son needs to have an excellent experience