A Mom's Guide to Lacrosse

What LAX newbies need to know

As far as spring sports go, lacrosse is a local biggie. But to many parents who did not grow up with the game, the rules, etiquette and game play can be a bit of a mystery. Here's MomSpeaker Hillary Chybinski's crash LAX course for parents cheering in the bleachers who may be fuzzy about what they're watchingNote: Hillary discusses only boys' lacrosse, which differs from the girls' game in both necessary equipment and rules regarding contact. 

For years, we have been a Baseball Family. From T-ball to Majors, each spring we headed out to enjoy the Great American Game. Last year, our teenager came home form school and said he wanted to try lacrosse. The middle school was starting up a team, and he wanted to give it a try.

We try to be supportive parents and encourage our kids to try new things (within reason, of course). So of course we said, sure — go for it! And he did. Not only did he join the team, but he fell in love with the game, made some great new friends and developed a new interest. A total win in the parenting book — right?

Here's my dirty little secret . . . I know NOTHING about lacrosse. Not. A. Thing. In my mind (and clearly my imagination) it was a cross between field hockey and tennis. Imagine my surprise at the first game! So I sat in the stands and watched, trying to figure it out. I didn't know many of the other parents — a new sport for your child often means a new crowd of parents for you as well. I wasn't sure when to cheer — or what to say. I was a baseball mom. Luckily some other parents helped me out, and truth be told, when they cheered for my son, I mimicked them until I felt more comfortable.

We now have one season under our belts, and this year he is playing at school and also in a local league. Over the winter, we acquired all of our own equipment in preparation. Again, I didn't know anything about what he needed, so I started learning and asking questions.

I know many of you are more knowledgeable of lacrosse than I, but today I am sharing some FYI stuff for any moms (or dads) new to the sport:

Boys' lacrosse equipment

The equipment for lacrosse is all about safety. Even so, with advances in materials, players are dressing light, with equipment that gives them more flexibility and less bulk.

  • Shoulder pads
  • Helmet with face mask
  • Lacrosse stick
  • Arm guards/elbow pads
  • Gloves
  • Running shoes/cleats
  • Mouthguard

About lacrosse

Lacrosse is a high-scoring, high-action game. It's been referred to as the "fastest game on two feet." No wonder my oldest was drawn to it! To be successful, a player needs to work hard and hustle. Lacrosse is different from other sports in that there is a community-type atmosphere.

Lacrosse positions

Attackmen need good shooting ability because they put the ball in the net. Attackmen often stay in the game the whole time. There are both feeders (set-up scoring players) and finishers (goal scorers), but many attackmen players do both.

Midfielders (middies) need speed, as they play both offense and defense. Middies are crucial to the team's transition offense and defense. Midfielders can come in and out of games and some only play during a specific time, such as during a face-off.

Defensemen need toughnessto stop the opposing team's attackmen from scoring.

The goalie needs quick reflexes, an even temperament and leadership qualities.

And don't forget the creasemen. They hang out by the goalie and take advantage of any opportunity for a fast break (an offensive situation). I am still not 100% where the actual "crease" is, but the coach shouts about it a lot!

History of lacrosse

Field lacrosse got it's start with the Native Americans. It was usually a way to settle disputes between tribes or to celebrate and honor religious rituals. The name lacrosse came to be when French explorers first witnessed the sport, because the French believed the stick looked like the staff of a bishop (la crosse). 

So this lacrosse thing can be confusing and it's really fast-paced. Since the kids are all in full protective gear, it can be even be difficult to tell which kid is yours. Relax, it's all OK. Lacrosse is a big team sport, and you are there to support your child and his team. Sit back, have fun and enjoy the action. When in doubt, shout "Go Blue!" (or whatever your team color is).

Have no fear, I still get to be a baseball mom, as our youngest chose to play baseball again this spring. So I will be spending my spring carting kids to games and practices, and cheering them on.

Are you a lacrosse parent, player or fan? What's your best tip??

Hillary Chybinski is a crafty mom of two boys living the American Dream with her husband in the Philly burbs. This post was adapted from her blog, My Scraps.

Categories: MomSpeak