Finding the Right Fit for Youth Lacrosse


Young players give lacrosse a test drive during a US Lacrosse TryLax event in Atlanta earlier this year.

This may come as a surprise, given my profession, but I had reservations about registering my 5-year-old son for lacrosse. Here in Baltimore, it’s just so darn intense.

When League A required that we pad him up, put a helmet on his head and undergo skill evaluations — when all we’ve ever done is toss a tennis ball around the yard — it turned me off.

Why would I spend $350 — even a starter kit costs $175, plus a registration fee in the same ballpark — just to see him become discouraged when he can’t see the ball through his oversized helmet or move well enough to catch it in his marshmallow-man pads? I resigned myself to the idea that he’d just have to pick up the sport in an interscholastic setting, like I did, because this scene seemed a little loopy to me.

But then I found League B, which offers a non-contact program that focuses on basic skills and fun. Just sticks — provided by the league as part of the $90 registration fee — and gloves.

That’s more like it. After seeing the confidence my kid obtained in baseball by hitting off a tee and fielding soft grounders with a low-compression ball, and in basketball swishing set shots on a 7-foot net, I couldn’t imagine just throwing him into the deep end like that in a sport as complex as lacrosse.

Call me a company man, but the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model has shaped my entire approach to the youth sports parenting landscape. I’m drawn to organizations that are fun and kid-centered, commit to training coaches and design their programs for development.

Even the tone of a website can say a lot about a league’s priorities. In the case of League B, the emphasis was on history and culture and that there’s a place for everyone to play.

Sign me up. In fact, put me down as a volunteer to coach. This seems like a good fit.

Matt DaSilva is the editor-in-chief of US Lacrosse Magazine.

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