Lacrosse has been referenced as the fastest growing sport in America time and time again. The sport seems to be trending in popularity exponentially. The influence of the sport of lacrosse is spreading noticeably throughout the nation as it continues to gain traction in the public eye.
But why is lacrosse becoming so popular? To the casual spectator, this answer may not be so obvious. In this article, I will uncover 21 definitive reasons as to why the sport of lacrosse is steadily gaining more recognition with each passing year.
1.) Combination of a Bunch of Different Sports
One of the main attractions of lacrosse is that it integrates specific elements from a multitude of other popular sports. This provides an easy transition for players with diverse athletic backgrounds. They are able to detect these commonalities and apply their knowledge from other sports to the game of lacrosse.
What other sports does lacrosse resemble exactly?
Many facets of lacrosse are extremely similar to that of hockey, so much so that it has been said to be “hockey on land.” If you take a closer look at both sports, there are certainly some glaring similarities. Both sports place a heavy emphasis on body checks, incorporate face-offs, revolve around a stick, and even share the same overarching goal of shooting an object into a net.
Resemblance to Hockey
Aside from hockey, lacrosse also embodies certain elements in basketball. For instance, advanced offensive strategies are largely based upon pick plays that were made famous in basketball. In addition, off-ball movement is harped on in both sports.
Resemblance to Basketball
These similarities are not just limited to the offensive end of the field, defensive strategy is founded on the principle of an inside-out philosophy. In both lacrosse and basketball, teams would rather give up a lower percentage outside shot as opposed to a shot inside.
Resemblance to Soccer
Moreover, the speed and endurance demanded of lacrosse players parallels the sport of soccer. Players are constantly running up and down the field in both sports. To say players need to have some cardiovascular fitness would be an understatement.
The list could go on and on, but I will spare you the details so we could move on to the other items on this list.
2.) The Allure of Scholarship Opportunity
Another attractive facet of lacrosse is scholarship opportunity.
There are many high school players that are sincerely passionate about their athletic dream of taking their talents to the collegiate level. In most cases, these aspirations lie just out of reach due to heavy competition.
The sport of lacrosse is just beginning to take the world by storm. As a result, new collegiate lacrosse programs are popping up seemingly every year. In fact, lacrosse offers high school athletes the greatest likelihood of playing at the collegiate level relative to every other major high school sport. Don’t believe me? Check out this recent research study conducted by the NCAA below!
The numbers do not lie. The demand for collegiate level lacrosse players is skyrocketing and coaches are willing to grant scholarships to high caliber players that deserve it.
This is extremely promising news to the majority of high school and youth athletes. The realistic opportunity of acquiring an athletic scholarship draws many newcomers to lacrosse, which helps to feed the popularity of the sport.
3.) Shooting a Lacrosse Ball at Full Speed Never Gets Old
The thrill of shooting a lacrosse ball as hard as you can at a net is exhilarating to say the least.
There are not many sports that offer players the opportunity to hurl a hard rubber ball at max velocity, especially with a goalie in the net. This unorthodox lacrosse movement demands both strength and precision. The beauty of shooting a lacrosse ball is that players can always shoot faster and with more accuracy.
Mastering lacrosse shooting technique necessitates hundreds and thousands of reps, but players do not mind whatsoever.
Constantly honing in on the craft of shooting is not only a lively endeavor, it is an unconventional, yet effective, outlet for stress. Shooting a lacrosse ball calls for activation of nearly every muscle in the body. It is no wonder that frequently shooting a lacrosse ball is able to relieve the tension of daily life.
Some players even refer to personal shoot-around sessions as a form of meditation for them. The simplicity and repetition of shooting a lacrosse ball is almost like a type of mental relaxation.
Whether it be in game or in your own backyard, I can say from personal experience that the joy of shooting a lacrosse ball never grows old.
4.) Extremely Fast-Paced Tempo
The next popular attraction of lacrosse is the upbeat tempo of the game itself. In fact, lacrosse has earned the nickname of “the fastest game on two feet” because of how fast players are able to bring the ball down the field.
Lacrosse feeds off of the energy of the players. Young lacrosse players revel in the fact that they have the opportunity to freely implement a “run and gun” strategy if they so please. Most other sports cannot match this non-stop, high flying action because there are frequent breaks in the games.
The high octane nature of the game is not only entertaining for players, it is an attractive spectacle to casual viewers. The aggressive back and forth between opposing teams keeps spectators on the edge of their seat. Lacrosse teams score at a rapid rate, so no losing team is ever out for the count.
The best part of all this is that the lacrosse community is striving vigorously to only make the game faster. At the collegiate lacrosse level, an eighty second shot clock has already been instituted to help speed up the game play. Who knows whether or not high school lacrosse will follow suit.
Either way, the pace of play in lacrosse is trending in the right direction. Fans want to see as much lively action as possible. The best way of accomplishing that phenomenon is an emphasis on speed.
The push for an upbeat tempo in lacrosse is one of the central reasons why it has increased so much in popularity.
5.) Can Legally Whack People with a Stick
Lacrosse also allows players to unleash their wild side.
In this sport, you can quite literally whack people with a metal stick. For many people, it is hard to believe at first. The idea of walloping the opposition repeatedly with a solid metal handle is unheard of in the realm of sports. Come to think of it, I cannot name many other sports that offer this kind of eccentric physicality.
Many potential athletes salivate at this rare opportunity to play an entirely different kind of defense. Some athletes are just drawn to contact sports. This sort of physical contact is without equal, which is why there is a constant stream of newcomers that join the sport of lacrosse each year.
Of course, there are regulations in place that protect players from overzealous checks that could potentially endanger the safety of a player. In lacrosse, player safety is of the utmost importance. This is why players are required to wear such a considerable amount of protective equipment.
So although players are legally allowed to whack each other, they must do so in a fashion that will not severely injure the opponent.
6.) Traditional Heritage of the Sport
Although the sport of lacrosse is bursting onto the scene as of late, its historical roots date back long before the modern time.
Lacrosse originated as a tribal stick sport among Native Americans. The rules were not as refined as they are today, however, there was one universal rule that was strictly followed: the ball cannot be touched with the hands.
Many Native American tribes practiced the art of lacrosse all throughout North America. There are many Native Americans today that still carry on the tradition of lacrosse. In fact, the Iroquois Nationals team won bronze in the World Lacrosse Championship Games in 2018.
For Native Americans, lacrosse is not just a sport. It is a means to give thanks and praise to the divinities. Thus, players do not just participate in a simple game when they pick up a lacrosse stick. They embrace a long line of tradition and history that is unmatched by any other athletic endeavor.
This spiritual connection has permeated to the general public, expanding the scope of the entire lacrosse community and helping the game to reach new horizons in terms of recognition.
7.) Can Be Played Indoors and Outdoors
Players also have the luxury of being able to play lacrosse both indoors and outdoors.
When most people think about the sport of lacrosse, they automatically jump to field lacrosse. It is for this reason that most people mistakenly believe that indoor lacrosse is not a possibility.
Most people are completely unaware that box lacrosse is another major form of the sport. The rules of box lacrosse are slightly different from that of field lacrosse. This is because box lacrosse has to be adjusted to the smaller, tight space of indoor fields.
Even with these slight differences, the fundamental nature of the sport remains the same.
Players have the capacity to play lacrosse year around if they so desire. Athletes that partake in other sports cannot indulge in such a luxury. For players who are serious about taking their game up a notch, this is a golden opportunity that almost seems too good to be true.
The adaptability of lacrosse to the changing seasons has drawn in players from all over the place, including both hot climates and cold climates. Needless to say, this has helped to propel lacrosse into stardom.
8.) Ability to Customize Your Own Equipment
Equipment customizability is another unconventional appeal of lacrosse.
There is a certain reverence that lacrosse players give to their personal equipment. It is almost equivalent to the respect with which a gladiator treats his armor prior to battle. It is said that the lacrosse stick should be a continuation of one’s body out on the field, just like the sword should be an extension of a soldier during combat.
I do not know that the lacrosse stick is worthy of such comparison, however, I do know that it is an integral part of the lacrosse experience.
For this reason, many players take a particular interest in personalizing their equipment to accentuate their play style and look good while doing it. There are certainly many routes available to players to completely customize the equipment they want to use.
For example, players can select what type of shoulder pads they want to wear, the color way of their helmet, the tape job they want on their stick, and the exact specifications of their lacrosse pocket. Believe it or not, all of these peculiar equipment accessories influence the performance of a lacrosse player, however so slightly.
It is this technical side of lacrosse that makes it all the more alluring to analytical athletes.
9.) Vast Spectrum of Competitive Tiers
Lacrosse offers a wide spectrum of programs suited for virtually every level of competition.
At the beginner level, there are instructional camps that are geared toward teaching newcomers the basic fundamentals of the game. These camps are a gateway for curious athletes to journey on to higher rungs of competition later down the road.
Furthermore, house leagues are available for intermediate players looking to get a taste of live game play. These casual lacrosse leagues are an enjoyable pastime for athletes that simply want to go out and take part in an alternative form of exercise.
For players that are serious about lacrosse, there is a variety of club organizations that are designed to support players on their journey to maximizing their potential. These travel club associations typically venture to out of state tournaments and hold weekly practices to provide players with all the resources necessary to improve their game.
The main takeaway is that no matter what skill level you are at in lacrosse, there is a place for you in the sport. This phenomenon has helped cater to the masses and draw in players that may have not played lacrosse otherwise.
10.) Wide Variety of Player Positions to Choose From
In addition, there is a broad selection of lacrosse positions that potential athletes can choose from. Each specialized position offers its own unique set of advantages to appeal to the individual desires of potential players.
There are four main lacrosse positions that players are able to choose from. Players have the option to be a goalie, defenseman, midfielder or attackman.
Appeal of Being a Goalie
Players that do not want to run very much in lacrosse have the option of becoming a goalie. Not only that, the goalie is the captain of the defense. They man the helm when it comes to coordinating defensive strategy and keeping everyone on the same page.
Appeal of Being a Defenseman
The position of defenseman typically caters to athletes that enjoy the physicality of sports. Defenseman are able to body check and stick check the opposition legally. Not many other sports offer that degree of physical contact.
Appeal of Being a Midfielder
The midfielder touches on practically every aspect of lacrosse. Typically, these are the players that run the most. Players that want to experience everything that the sport has to offer while getting a solid workout in usually go the midfield route.
Appeal of Being an Attackman
A solid attackman requires above average stick skills and a superior knowledge of the offensive side of lacrosse. Athletes that are obsessed with the thrill of scooting past defenders and scoring goals regularly choose the position of attackman.
With all these unique positions, potential athletes usually find a home in one of these lacrosse roles. This has helped tremendously with diversifying the athletic clientele that participate in the sport.
11.) Exceptional Source of Cardio
Lacrosse players run. A lot.
The substantial size of the field fused with the rapid pace of play forces players to log in the miles. With every change of possession, players have to sprint the length of the field to put themselves in optimal position for the next play. Even with quick substitution shifts, a great deal of cardiovascular fitness is required of these players.
Lacrosse is the perfect sport for players that have a strong desire to change their bodies for the better and strengthen their cardiovascular fitness. Even players that transition over from endurance heavy sports such as cross country and wrestling will find that lacrosse is an effective means of maintaining their current level of fitness.
We all know of the extensive benefits of running. Nonetheless, we often have a difficult time motivating ourselves to do it. Lacrosse offers a creative way to mix up the running routine while still striving toward personal fitness aspirations.
This is just another item to add to the list of reasons why lacrosse is becoming so popular.
12.) The Appeal of Big, Explosive Hits
The next appealing aspect of lacrosse is the presence of big, explosive hits. Below, I included a compilation of several dynamic lacrosse collisions to properly illustrate one of the most exciting facets of the sport.
The spectacle that these big hits provide showcase the superlative physicality of lacrosse. It adds another eye-catching element to the sport that keeps the game lively. Fans never know when the next explosive collision will occur.
These hits are not just enjoyed by spectators. Lacrosse defensemen live for the excitement of putting their body on the line and protecting their goal at all costs. Defensemen seek out any opportunity to squash the opposition and discourage any offensive player from venturing too far into enemy territory.
This physicality has attracted the curiosity of American football players everywhere. American football is predominantly a fall sport. Lacrosse offers these athletes a way to convert that same physicality needed in American football over to an entirely different athletic endeavor.
13.) Multidimensional Sport
Moreover, there are multiple underlying dimensions to the game of lacrosse.
There is a vast amount of different variables that feed into the end result of lacrosse games. For example, the amount of shots on goal, goalie saves, successful clears, team ground balls, and turnovers impact the final score of lacrosse games. These factors add to the unpredictable outcomes of games, which makes the sport far more entertaining to watch.
In certain other sports, there are much fewer variables to account for. In bowling for example, the same stroke motion is repeated each time players hit the lanes. Swimmers employ the same exact movements in competitive races. Cross country runners jog at a lightning speed in one fixed direction.
These sports emphasize repetition over anything else. With lacrosse, the narrative of any game is never really set in stone. It is challenging to predict who the victor will be since there are so many components to take into consideration.
It is for this reason that lacrosse is beginning to separate itself from the pack in terms of popular sports entertainment.
14.) Always Something to Work On in Your Game
The fact that lacrosse is a multidimensional sport provides players with a number of areas to consistently improve upon.
No lacrosse player is perfect. Even the best of the best have to practice. What makes practicing for lacrosse bearable is the sheer amount of things that you can work on.
For instance, one day a player may dedicate themselves solely to improving their shot velocity and accuracy. The following day, a player can commit themselves to a completely different area of lacrosse, such as perfecting the art of ground balls. The day after that, a player can focus their efforts on the appropriate footwork needed to dodge past defenders.
You get the point. Lacrosse practice is rarely ever monotonous. As soon as a lacrosse player grows bored with one particular area of the game, they can simply jump to another area of interest.
This keeps the sport fresh, which ultimately leads to a marked improvement in player retention. The diversity of lacrosse training encourages newcomers to keep coming back for more.
15.) Unrestricted Movement on the Open Field
Another popular attraction of lacrosse is the freedom of movement out on the open field.
Lacrosse players have the benefit of being unrestricted even when they have the ball in their stick. In most other sports, possessing the ball and sprinting at maximal speed is a troublesome task to master. This is mainly due to the confined boundaries of the sport as well as the challenging means of possessing the ball.
In basketball for example, it can be difficult for a player to reach maximal speed when in possession of the ball if their dribbling is not up to par. The restrained court boundaries also make it difficult for players to showcase their speed in half-court sets.
In lacrosse, all players have to do to possess the ball is rotate their wrist back and forth. This motion does not impede their ability to move freely about the field and pick the spots they want to go to.
Furthermore, lacrosse fields are slightly larger than American football fields. This provides players with adequate room to create space for themselves and move about as they please.
This is particularly intriguing news to speedy athletes that are searching for a fun sport to showcase their quickness.
16.) Welcoming Community
The lacrosse community is one of the more welcoming communities in sports.
Lacrosse coaches and players share a common desire to see lacrosse become one the premier sports in the world. Although this ambition may seem far-fetched, it is much more attainable than many people think. This central bond has driven the entire lacrosse community to help feed the fire and contribute however they can to the explosive growth of the sport.
Even professional lacrosse athletes are buying into the communal atmosphere. For instance, these professional players have made a laborious effort to spark the growth of lacrosse in the midwest. They have shared their knowledge at instructional camps and held professional lacrosse events to fuel the momentum in areas where lacrosse is rather unknown.
I know this because I was a beneficiary of these instructional camps during my early playing years. I still remember big time names like Kyle Harrison and Sam Bradman coming to my town and helping to teach me the fundamentals of the game.
This is how the so called “lacrosse hot beds” develop. These seemingly small acts of giving back to the game have helped to inspire others in the lacrosse community to do the same. The popularity of lacrosse has jumped in recent years as a result.
17.) Room to Goof Around with Teammates
Lacrosse is not all seriousness. Players have time to horse around with teammates and develop a bond with one another that goes beyond the lacrosse field.
It is easy to find a net, toss the ball around, and practice some casual one on ones with with teammates at tournaments. Trying to impress teammates with stick tricks is always a favorite activity in the down time between games.
This phenomenon is especially prevalent with teams that travel together. There is something special about ensuring everyone is mentally prepared for the upcoming game on the bus ride over. Celebrating a victory on the bus ride home is where some of the best sports memories are made.
Travel club organizations often keep the team together in the same hotel during out of state tournaments. Once the tournament games are all wrapped up for the day, it is nice to relax with teammates and just order some hotel room service pizza.
These little moments may not seem like much at first glance, but they are what have steadily driven lacrosse into the spotlight.
18.) The Rapid Success of Club Organizations
The speedy success that club organizations are seeing has inspired others to invest into the business of lacrosse.
There is a growing demand for lacrosse programs across the country and few club lacrosse organizations to act as the supply. As more and more club lacrosse associations have sprung up, many of these organizations are reaching success and raising awareness for the game.
These associations are providing lacrosse players everywhere with the tools necessary to start their lacrosse journey. Lacrosse clubs are even beginning to spread to areas that are relatively unfamiliar with the sport of lacrosse and recruit new participants to the game.
New club organizations will continue to proliferate as long as athletes continue to sign up for these programs.
It is evident that the hasty establishment of these newer club organizations has helped to bolster the sport.
19.) The Compelling Art of Stringing
Another element that has fed into the popularity of lacrosse is the compelling art of stringing. Relative to the other items on this list, how this aspect relates to the popularity of lacrosse may not be so obvious at first glance.
For those of you that do not know, stringing refers to how the nylon strands of the lacrosse stick is tied. The craft of stringing is one of the most unique technical aspects in sports. It is unique in that the lacrosse stick is such a large determinant of player performance and their capacity to reach their potential.
A player that has a poorly strung lacrosse stick will have a much more strenuous time developing as a player compared to a player that has a well strung lacrosse stick. Consequently, the art of stringing can grant lacrosse players a distinct advantage on the field.
Many who embark on the stringing journey also stumble upon a secret passion that they never knew they had. Lacrosse may be an outlet for stress, but stringing is no slouch at relieving tension either!
This rare prospect has piqued the interest of potential athletes all over the map. It is practically the perfect dream for a sports gear head.
20.) All the Benefits that Go Along with a Team Sport
The sport of lacrosse is a team oriented sport without a doubt.
In lacrosse, the saying that you are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain holds true. Everyone has to buy in to the system for a lacrosse team to reach success.
By embracing the lacrosse team atmosphere, players get more than just the benefit of a workout when they go to practice. They develop their social skills, learn how to cooperate with others, and form friendships that will last a lifetime.
When an athlete decides to participate on the lacrosse team, they join a close-knit group of twenty other personalities on the squad. At higher level competition, this team is the home away from home for lacrosse players. Playing together day in and day out brings individuals together in a way that school or work never could.
To sum up, the benefits of joining the lacrosse team are priceless. Athletes are starting to realize this, which is why there has been a spike in lacrosse participation in the past few years.
21.) Greater Ease of Accessibility
The final item on this last that has skyrocketed the popularity of lacrosse in the last decade is the greater ease of accessibility.
As aforementioned, additional club organizations are beginning to pop up everywhere, regardless of whether lacrosse is a pillar in the area or not.
These are not the only lacrosse programs that are taking form. Even local recreation centers are following the trend and integrating the sport of lacrosse into their intramural list. This has opened up the sport to a broader audience, helping to break down the perception that you need to start lacrosse from an early age to contend with the best of them.
Local parks are also beginning to install lacrosse nets as a means to accommodate the growing population of lacrosse players in the area.
As a greater amount of lacrosse resources are made available to the general public, athletes will only continue to venture out of their personal bubble and attempt to play lacrosse.