Lacrosse Advice for Parents & Players

Lacrosse Advice – Parents, Players, Club Teams, etc.

Here are basic tips & advice for parents of lacrosse players. This advice will help you to enjoy the game and to improve your child’s lacrosse success. It also examines some of the controversies involved in youth & club lacrosse (in order to prepare parents for some of the “headaches” of lacrosse). This page is supposed to act as an unofficial lacrosse guide or lacrosse handbook for parents.

Advice For Lacrosse Parents

  • Enjoy yourself! Lacrosse is a fun & exciting sport. It is a million times better than watching spring baseball where your child stands around for most of the game and only gets a few times at bat.
  • Try to start your child early (i.e. in first grade lacrosse) because this sports requires strong stick skills.
  • Attend your child’s games and practices! This is not a baby sitting service where you can drop off your child while you get your Starbuck’s coffee. You need to watch your child in order to learn the areas where he needs improvement. Moreover, your child will love it when you are cheering for him versus focusing on your next errand.
  • You can’t just rely on the coaches to get your child ready. They are dealing with 100 other kids & their demanding parents. You need to go out and practice lacrosse with your child.
  • Learn the words and terms used in lacrosse. You will gain a better understanding of the game and… be able to decipher what everyone is yelling from the sidelines! Visit our lacrosse terminology page for basic lacrosse terms and words.
  • Work on your child’s agility & endurance as this game involves lots of running. Participating in off-season sports such as track, basketball, soccer and/or football can help build up your son’s footwork, speed, agility & endurance for the spring lacrosse season.
  • If you are not an athletic superstar and/or have never played lacrosse before, consider using a tennis ball (versus a regular lacrosse ball) when practicing with your child or have them roll the lacrosse ball back to you (so you don’t get smashed in the face by a hard lacrosse ball).
  • Also have your kids practice with full gear on so they get comfortable passing/catching while wearing their equipment. The lacrosse gear will also protect them for any errant passes (because even a miss-aimed tennis ball hurts… and a lacrosse ball is far harder than a tennis ball).
  • Have your child join a summer lacrosse camp and/or fall & winter program in order to work on their skills. At a minimum, your child should participate in a local lacrosse school’s final winter session before the regular spring lacrosse season in order to shake off any rust and prep for the upcoming season.
  • Wall ball is the quickest… and cheapest way to improve your son’s stick skills. Your son will get many more “touches” (i.e. chances at practicing his passing & catching) versus regular clinics or games. Visit our lacrosse wall ball page for training ideas.
  • Don’t worry if your kid isn’t an automatic lacrosse star in 1st grade or just started playing lacrosse in 4th grade. Kids mature at different rates. Every year, new lacrosse stars seem to come out of nowhere.
  • Be prepared to deal with the issue of coaches kids… as there are many assistant coaches who volunteer to help run lacrosse program and of course, they are looking out for their own kids.
  • Also be prepared for lacrosse “ball hogs”. While your son is playing the game correctly and looking for the open man, you will see some kids refusing to pass because they just want to score (despite having to go throw a million defenders and thus usually losing the ball). Don’t worry because most coaches deal with this “me first” attitude and these kids don’t last long in lacrosse if they don’t put the team before themselves. However, if this is a major problem during scrimmages, you should consider asking the coaches for a one or two pass rule (where the kids have to make one or two passes before a goal counts) in order to reduce ball hogging.
  • By 5th or 6th grade, you will probably have to decide on your kid’s primary spring sport as coaches will no longer accept “absences” for other sporting events… especially, if you want your child to make your town’s lacrosse travel teams.
  • Don’t carpet bomb coaches with emails (i.e. Why isn’t my kid on the travel team?). Remember most coaches (in the junior levels) are unpaid parent volunteers, have regular jobs and have their own overwhelming family lives. They also have to deal many demanding parents. So please give them a break and think twice before sending off that complaining email.
  • This sport can be expensive due to the equipment (i.e. $200 helmets) and clinics. So shop around for the best price as many lacrosse retail websites run sales and there are occasionally big differences in equipment prices between sites. Also check out our used lacrosse equipment page for lightly used and much cheaper lacrosse gear.
  • Attackmen usually favor lighter sticks and defensemen favor stronger sticks (i.e. titanium shafts). To save money, parents of beginners should consider cheaper aluminum shafts until your children are truly committed to playing lacrosse.
  • Volunteer as the local lacrosse programs always needs help. This will also help you to learn more about lacrosse… and thus you can be an even better lacrosse “coach” for your child.
  • Talk to & bond with the other parents on the sidelines. They can provide you with advice and/or help with car pooling to lacrosse games & practices.
  • Lacrosse games are usually outside and often lack stadium seating. So don’t forget to bring a lightweight “camping” chair, sunscreen, a hat and plenty of water (in order to keep your child hydrated).
  • Watch our free lacrosse instructional videos in order to learn how your child can improve his game. Some of the key elements that beginners need to learn are catching (no one will pass to your son if he can not catch… in order to avoid a costly turnover), cradling, passing, ground balls, shooting, dodging and defending.
  • Beginners in lacrosse do not have to be super tall (unlike basketball) or super muscular (unlike football) in order to be very good at lacrosse. Small and average-sized kids can the best on a lacrosse team if they have superior stick skills (gained through hard work and practice) and plenty of hustle. Lacrosse is a great sport where a kid can be a star by outworking the other kids (versus needing to have a superior natural athletic ability).

Lacrosse Advice for Beginners

  • Practice, practice… PRACTICE!!!! If you only pick up a lacrosse stick in the Spring, you will fall behind your peers. The best players practice year round even if it is only wall ball. Therefore if you want to excel at lacrosse, you need to join a off-season lacrosse camp, practice with a friend or brother, play wall ball, find an empty lacrosse net at your local school, buy a lacrosse rebounder/bounce back, etc.
  • Practice using both hands (i.e. catching lefty and righty). You need to be proficient with both hands in order to excel in lacrosse. If you are only good with your dominant hand, opponents will find it easier to defend you. Wall ball is a simple & easy way to become more ambidextrous (i.e. practice shooting & catching with your non-dominant hand).
  • Build up your endurance as there is lots of running in lacrosse. The best players are able to out hustle their opponents when everyone else is tired. Playing off-season sports such as football, soccer, basketball and track will also help to build your overall endurance.
  • Lacrosse is a team sport. If you score a goal, don’t go off hot dogging and celebrating your “awesomeness”. You should go and congratulate the person who feed you with the assist… especially if you want them to pass it to you again!!
  • Watch ALL of our free lacrosse instructional videos because you will learn new lacrosse skills & techniques and discover what your opponent may use to stop you.
  • Some of the key elements to learn as a beginner are catching (no one will pass to you if you can not catch in order to avoid a costly turnover), cradling, passing, ground balls, shooting, dodging and defending.
  • Speaking of catching, beginners need to make sure their top hand is next to the head of the lacrosse stick (so the head is almost like a baseball glove – an extension of your hand). Too often, you see beginners with their top hand halfway down the stick and thus they have a difficult time catching a lacrosse ball (as they have a hard time judging the appropriate distance between the “further away” head and ball).
  • Ground balls win games… because a ground ball “victory” gives your team possession of the ball and a chance to score. If you hustle and fight for every ground ball, your coaches will love you! Tip – Practice using your feet during a battle for a loose ground ball (as you can kick it out of the scrum and into position for an easy pickup). Also learn how to use your hips/butt to “box out” (screen out) an opponent in order to win loose ground balls.
  • For accuracy, lacrosse beginners should focus on shooting overhand (versus sidearm or underhand).
  • Most beginners should aim low when shooting on the goal. It takes beginner goalies more time to move their stick down from the ready position (up near their head) and thus they are less likely to block a good low shot (i.e. aimed at the bottom right or left of the goal). Also a low shot can ricochet off the ground and into the goal (often at a strange angle which makes it even tougher for a beginner goalie). In contrast, a high shot will sail over the goal and thus there is no chance for a ricochet goal. Visit our lacrosse shooting page for more shooting tips & advice.
  • Learn the penalties in lacrosse because you will cost your team if you make repeated mistakes. For beginners, slashing to the head seems to be the biggest problem (as they try to dislodge a ball from an opponent’s stick with a mighty swing but miss and hit their opponent’s helmet). Beginners should be encouraged to use poke checks versus a “tomahawk” chop with their lacrosse stick.
  • Beginners in lacrosse do not have to be super tall (unlike basketball) or super muscular (unlike football) in order to be very good at lacrosse. Small and average-sized kids can the best on a lacrosse team if they have superior stick skills (gained through hard work and practice) and plenty of hustle. Lacrosse is a great sport where a kid can be a star by outworking the other kids (versus needing to have a superior natural athletic ability).

Advice about Lacrosse Club Teams

  • Club teams are for families who want to play more lacrosse than that provided by their spring town teams. Club team players often play lacrosse year round. Be prepared for potential conflicts with “off-season” sports such as football and basketball.
  • There are strong club teams in most regions of the USA and Canada. Some of the elite lacrosse club teams include the Annapolis Hawks (MD), Baltimore Crabs (MD), Denver Elite (CO), Dukes Lacrosse (PA). Edge (Canada), FCA Maryland (MD), Laxachusetts (MA), Long Island Express Lacrosse (NY), MadLax (MD), New Hampshire Tomahawks (NH), SweetLax (NY), Team 91 (NY), West Coast Starz (CA), etc.
  • These elite club teams generally hold competitive tryouts in July/Aug/Sept for teams that will play in the fall, winter and following summer. Therefore, athletes should do extra work in order to prepare for these tryouts. Occasionally, these teams will hold additional tryouts during the winter in order to fill in any holes on their teams.
  • Many college coaches bypass watching high school games in order to watch elite players on club teams. They feel that there is a greater concentration of strong players at these tournaments and thus easier to find potential recruits. For more information, please visit our section on Lacrosse College Recruiting.
  • Top teams can provide better college recruiting opportunities & off-season training but they also can be very cut throat with significant player turnover. Lower level teams often provide more playing time for borderline elite players (as many elite teams focus mainly on their starters and secondary players can get less playing time). Lower level teams may have better team camaraderie (as they are usually less cut throat). However, these teams are less likely to be watched by college coaches and team basics might suffer due to some less skilled players.
  • Elite lacrosse club teams often have more power to help their players get an invite to the best lacrosse showcases (i,e. Maverik Showtime).
  • If your son does not make a top team, parents need to decide whether it is better to play on a less competitive club’s A team or the B team of a top club team. Unfortunately, sometimes B teams get less attention from the parent organization.
  • Given that everyone wants to play for an “A” team, B teams are now sometimes called A teams and A teams are called AA teams. If told that your son has been selected for the A team after tryouts, parents should ask if it is the top or second team for that grade.
  • Check the cost of each program as they can vary greatly given the number of practices, tournament fees, mandatory equipment (i.e. team helmets), etc. Parents should be prepared to pay large fees for these elite programs. In addition, parents will need to cover hotel and travel costs because often these elite teams play out of state.
  • Families should also be prepared for a large time commitment due to frequent practices and out of state tournaments. Many top teams practice almost year round.
  • Be prepared to deal with the issue of some very competitive parents holding back or reclassifying their children purely for sports reasons in order to gain a competitive “age” advantage for their child. Some elite club teams have multiple players who have been held back or reclassified.
  • Make sure you know who will be coaching your child. Are you getting an established coach or some college kid on his summer break?
  • Talk to other parents on prospective club teams in order to get an idea of the training provided, coaching style, playing time (starters versus non-starters), etc.

Lacrosse Controversies & Issues

Lacrosse is a great sport. However, like all sports, lacrosse faces a number of controversies. This page does not judge whether these controversies are right or wrong. Rather, we are listing issues that lacrosse athletes and parents need to be aware of. Some of these issues are major controversies and others are relatively minor. If you are troubled by any of these issues, please contact your town lacrosse officials, club team directors & US Lacrosse to make them aware of your concerns.

  • Should club teams be based on a child’s birth year or school graduation year?
  • An increasing number of children have been held back a grade (or two) for a number of reasons (i.e. medical, developmental or even for lacrosse). This has resulted in some lacrosse teams being much older than same grade teams with children who have not been held back.
  • Are hold backs a danger to younger and less developed opponents?
  • In youth lacrosse, kids who have been held back tend to be older and larger than other kids in their grade.
  • Should the contact rules in lacrosse be modified?
  • Lacrosse is a contact sport and there is an increasing number of concussions suffered in lacrosse.
  • In 2014, US Lacrosse revised the rules for youth lacrosse so that a player can only check within 3 yards of the ball (versus the previous 5 yard rule) in order to reduce violent collisions.
  • Crazy lacrosse parents
  • As in many sports, some parents can be very intense on the sidelines and will yell at or belittle players, coaches, other parents & refs.
  • Do coaches kids get an unfair advantage when their father is the coach of the team?
  • Some youth and club teams have dads as coaches. This may or may not lead to conflicts of interest (i.e. extra playing time for the coach’s son). Parents need to be aware of this issue and speak to existing parents on the team to see if this is a problem. ​
  • Overly intense youth & club lacrosse coaches
  • Lacrosse is rapidly growing and many organizations are trying to make money from this growth. This has led some coaches to try and win at all costs​ where they only play starters, bring in guest players, actively seek out hold backs for their team, etc.
  • Does lacrosse suffer due to the lack of minority lacrosse players?
  • The high cost of lacrosse equipment & training has limited the availability of lacrosse in some poorer communities.
  • Since a professional lacrosse player is not highly compensated, many athletes in poorer communities skip lacrosse for potentially higher-paying sports such as basketball, football, baseball, etc.
  • Has college recruiting for lacrosse become too intense?
  • Given the competition for top lacrosse players, college coaches were even recruiting 8th graders. However, to combat this intensity (or insanity), rules were changed in 2017 so D1 lacrosse college coaches could not contact players until the beginning of their junior year.
  • Some lacrosse parents were holding their children back in school (i.e. repeating 8th grade) in order to look better for college coaches when the coaches were allowed to recruit 8th & 9th graders. The rule change may slow or reverse this trend because there will be less of a physical advantage for older players in their junior year. ​
  • Is lacrosse a dead-end sport for a potential professional athlete?
  • Some parents with children who are top athletes wonder if they should even consider lacrosse because the salaries of professional lacrosse players are extremely low versus the NBA, NFL, etc.
  • Should athletes concentrate on lacrosse year-round or should they be multi-sport athletes?​​
  • Has lacrosse become too commercial with year-round tournaments, hold backs, private training, etc.?​​

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