What Is The Best Age To Start Lacrosse?

What Is The Best Age To Start Lacrosse

Outdoor sports are a great way for kids to have fun, exercise, and learn teamwork. As the fastest growing sport in US high schools and colleges, lacrosse is also a competitive landscape whose players start playing and training very young. Listed below are tips about why and when to start your child playing lacrosse.


Defining Goals

Before deciding anything, the first thing to do is make sure you have clear goals defined for your child. The goal for starting your child in lacrosse may be simply having fun during the summer months or to get some exercise all year round. The goal could also be to prepare them for a potential career at the collegiate and/or professional level. The key here is to define concrete and realistic goals so your child gets the most out of their lacrosse experience, whether for fun or something serious.

Ages 3-6

Ages 3-6 is a great range to prepare your child for the rigors of lacrosse without fully playing the contact sport. Lacrosse requires a certain amount of physical ability, coordination, and comprehension of rules that may not be possible until an older age. While they are very young, you can focus on increasing the basic strength and agility of your child while also allowing safe and fun activities in which they can enhance their mental and physical coordination. Until these basic skills are acquired, playing actual lacrosse remains farther down the line, and children will not be allowed to participate in larger competitions.

Ages 7-14

Experts agree that the optimal age at which to first start playing lacrosse is around age 7. This is because this age is the typical time at which children are physically able to handle lacrosse equipment while also understanding and following the rules of lacrosse as a sport. As with almost any sport, starting lacrosse early is one of the best ways to take best advantage of a child’s potential, and they can spend these early years honing the fundamentals of the sport while learning what it means to function as one unit of a cohesive team.

Ages 15 and Up

American high schools typically divide their sports into junior varsity and varsity teams, while the USA Lacrosse league divides its competitions into age brackets by year. The final age bracket designation is 19U-15U, a range for high schoolers aged 15-19 who play games run by the NFHS (National Federation of High School Associations). The level of competition during this period reaches extremely high levels, as individual bodies reach physical peaks while gameplay success determines who is picked up for collegiate teams as well as who is offered performance-based scholarships. Lacrosse players at this level have usually played already for almost a decade, but here is where they make marks that could change their life trajectory.

College Lacrosse

Collegiate lacrosse in America is divided into four distinct divisions. First is the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), which divides itself into three divisions. Division 1 schools have around the top 5% of men’s and women’s lacrosse players in the country, often with full-ride scholarships attached. Division 2 and Division 3 of the NCAA are notably less competitive and will only grant academic scholarships, not athletic scholarships. The final division is the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and they represent smaller universities and colleges around America. The players that make it to any of these four divisions likely started playing early and are highly skilled student-athletes.

Professional Lacrosse

As with any sport, becoming a professional player is the highest competitive level and often the most desirable dream to which young lacrosse players aspire. Like with the college recruitment process, the key to being picked for a professional team is winning games and making a name for yourself as a key part of that process. Once professional scouts take interest and attend specific games, players can then show off their skills and potentially be picked for a position on a professional team. Players who make it to play lacrosse professionally most likely started competing at a young age and make it to this final stage because, after many years of conditioning, they are the best of the best. 

Safety Concerns

Lacrosse is an incredibly physical sport with high risk of injury, so proper safety is important regardless of age level. The first safety measure in lacrosse is to make sure your child is wearing all proper safety gear, including helmets, cleats, mouthguards, gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, and a fitting cup. There is also proper safety gear specifically for goalies, which include a neck protector, a chest protector, shin guards, a goalie stick, and goalie gloves. In addition to these pieces of equipment, all lacrosse players should make sure to stay hydrated and pay attention to anything else that might go wrong with their bodies during heightened physical activity.

FAQ

How do I get my kid started with lacrosse?

The best way to start your kid in lacrosse is to get them physically active at a young age. Playing lacrosse requires a certain level of agility and coordination in order to have fun or engage in competitive play. Once your child has those fundamental skills down, they can join a junior league or play on a team at their school as long as they are at least six years of age.

How old should my child be to play lacrosse?

The best age to start your child playing lacrosse is around the age of 7. During this time period, kids are able to physically handle the appropriate equipment and gear while also understanding and remembering the rules of lacrosse. Starting too early can lead to injury since lacrosse is such a physical sport but starting too late can have some kids learning the basics while others are much farther ahead skill-wise.

Can I teach my child lacrosse?

If you played lacrosse when you were younger or were a professional player of some kind, you can absolutely teach your child the basics of the game. However, lacrosse is ultimately a team sport, so a child will need to join a junior league or school team to work on team building aspects of the sport. This will help them learn how to play as both an individual and as part of a unit.

How do I pick a lacrosse coach for my child?

Picking a lacrosse coach for your child is completely dependent on what goals you have defined for your child. For example, if you want your kid to just have a great time, physically exercise, and foster a sense of community, you should choose a coach that emphasizes fun. On the other hand, if you are trying to set your kid up for long-term competitive success, it is best to set them up with a coach that is experienced and meets their specific needs.