Lacrosse is a popular sport among high school athletes—and no wonder, considering its fast pace and exciting gameplay. However, like any other sport, lacrosse comes with a risk of injuries.
And to the high-impact nature of the game, lacrosse has an especially high risk of injury.
Common injuries in lacrosse include concussions, collarbone fractures, and sprained ankles.
So how can young athletes stay safe on the lacrosse field?
Here are a few tips:
1. Be aware of your surroundings.
Lacrosse is a fast-paced sport, and players need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. This means paying attention to the game and not getting distracted by other things going on around you.
Proprioception, or the awareness of your body in space, is important to help you avoid collisions with other players and prevent serious injuries. It can be helpful to do drills that focus on proprioception. Speed training can also help you develop the quick reflexes you need to avoid collisions.
2. Know your body’s limits.
Young lacrosse players, especially high school athletes and collegiate athletes, may feel pressure to push themselves beyond their limits in order to improve their game. However, this can easily lead to injuries. It’s important for young athletes to know their own limits and play within them, no matter what their teammates or lacrosse coach might say.
Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that young lacrosse players are generally going to be far less familiar with their own limits than older lacrosse players—which is why it’s especially important for coaches and parents to emphasize this point.
3. Warm up before playing.
Warming up before playing lacrosse helps prepare your body for the physical activity and can help prevent injuries. A good warm-up should include some light cardio and stretching, as well as some sport-specific drills. For example, you might start with a light jog around the field, followed by some dynamic stretches like lunges and leg swings. Then you can move on to some lacrosse-specific drills, such as passing and catching.
4. Wear the proper equipment while playing.
Lacrosse players need to wear a helmet, mouthguard, and shoulder pads at all times while playing. This will help protect them from the most common injuries—concussions, collarbone fractures, and sprained ankles. It’s also important to make sure that the equipment fits properly and is in good condition.
Young lacrosse players may feel pressured to play without all of the proper equipment, especially if their teammates are doing it. But it’s important to resist this pressure and make sure you’re always wearing the proper safety gear.
5. Cool down after playing.
Just as it’s important to warm up before playing, it’s also important to cool down afterwards. This helps your body recover from the physical activity and can prevent injuries. A good cool-down should include some light cardio and stretching.
6. Don’t play through pain.
If you do end up getting injured, it’s important to take some time off from playing. Trying to play through the pain will only make the injury worse and could lead to even more serious injuries.
So if you’re feeling any pain, no matter how minor it might seem to you, it’s important to rest and get proper medical attention before getting back on the lacrosse field.
Even with the best preparation, even if you do everything right, accidents still happen. If you do end up getting injured while playing lacrosse, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. It can take some time before an athlete can return to play following an injury—and returning too soon can result in re-injury. So it’s important to follow the guidance of a professional and not use guesswork or try to “self-medicate” following a lacrosse injury.
No athlete is completely injury-proof. With these tips in mind, young lacrosse players can help prevent injuries and enjoy a safe and fun experience on the lacrosse field.
If you want to develop your proprioception, you can focus on drills that improve your balance, coordination, and single-leg stability. These types of exercises help “re-wire” the nervous system and improve the communication between the muscles and the brain.
Speed and agility training is another great way to reduce your risk of injury. This type of training helps improve your reaction time and coordination, both of which are important on the lacrosse field. Plyometric training is a great way to improve your speed and agility.
Finally, don’t forget the importance of strength training. While it’s often thought of as “just” a way to improve performance, strength training can also help reduce your risk of injuries. Stronger muscles can help support the joints and help prevent joint injuries.
You know the saying: The best offense is a good defense. The same goes for injury prevention—by becoming a better overall athlete, you’ll be less likely to suffer from a serious lacrosse injury.