t turns out that North America’s oldest sport is also the fastest growing for youth! According to a 2015 participation survey from US Lacrosse, “Youth lacrosse (14 and under) is approaching nearly 450,000 players on teams, the largest segment of play in the sport.” The survey also notes that youth participation in the sport has doubled in the last decade.
Along with its growing popularity, lacrosse also provides kids with social and physical benefits. Those highlighted by laxworld.com are mental acuity, increased fitness, socialization, productive habits, and coordination.
If your kid is interested in giving the sport a try, here are five tips to help them get started.
Find the proper equipment: Before your kid gets into the game, be sure that they are suited up with the right safety gear. In boys’ lacrosse helmets with facemasks are required. Along with this, shoulder and elbow pads are typically required. For girls’ lacrosse, this is not the case due to some of the rules regarding contact. Girls are required to wear eye protection, and according to kidshealth.org, most are made of steel cages, while some girls opt for plastic instead. Cleats and mouth guards are almost always required for both boys and girls.
Learn to cradle: Simplylacrosse.com defines cradling as “a technique for maintaining the lacrosse ball in the pocket of the lacrosse stick” and “where a player twists his wrists and flexes his forearm back & forth as a way to cause the ball to stay in the pocket.” Cradling can be tough for a beginner to learn, but is a skill that comes naturally once the player gets it down. Your kid can practice cradling with each hand, trying to master the motion of twisting the top hand back and forth. For a good visual tutorial on learning to cradle, check out this video link!
Play some wall ball: One of the best drills to help your kid work on their passing and catching, wall ball is a great way to help them develop skills at their own pace. Have them stand about 5-7 yards away from the brick wall, and practice throwing the ball to a spot on the wall where it bounces back for them to catch. This instructional video from HowCast helps demonstrate the technique. Beginners can start by passing and catching using their dominant hand, and then move on to using their other hand once they get comfortable. A great element of this drill is that players can take part without needing a partner or entire team.
Practice scooping: Many times during a lacrosse game, players will want to pick up a loose ball to secure possession for their team. Practicing for these situations can be a great way to keep your kid excited and engaged! At first, it may be helpful to simply place the ball on the grass and have them scoop it to get the hang of the activity. After that, you can challenge them by rolling them ball out for them to run through, and even pass it back to you after. When scooping through a ground ball, players want to bend their knees and run through the ball with their dominant hand near the top of the stick, and their opposite hand at the base. For some “major league” tips and tricks, check out this post from the New York Lizards website!
Join a team: With the sport’s rise in popularity, many more school and club teams are forming. School districts often have their own youth teams or leagues that may be run by local youth organizations. Explore the opportunities in your town by going online or contacting organizers. Joining a team is a great step in learning the sport from a young age while staying active! Not to mention, coaches and teammates can be great resources for developing those skills even more.