Lacrosse is an outdoor sport and sometimes the weather is not as agreeable as one would hope for game day. Some popular sports, like baseball, cancel their games due to heavy rain, whereas other sports, like football, simply play through it. New players often wonder where lacrosse fits onto this playability spectrum.
Lacrosse can be played in the rain, as long as there is no imminent threat of lightning in the area and the field conditions do not present any severe injury risks. Since rain doesn’t nullify any element of lacrosse games, play continues in spite of the weather.
The prospect of playing lacrosse in the rain may not be ideal, but it certainly beats having to forgo the game completely. There are several ways that lacrosse is built to withstand the effects of the rain, all of which will be discussed in greater detail below. Read until the end to learn some effective tips on how to best deal with the rain from a player’s perspective.
Why Lacrosse Can Be Played in the Rain
So what separates lacrosse from sports like baseball and tennis that cannot play in rainy conditions?
The truth is that it doesn’t come down to just one factor. There’s a multitude of components that allows lacrosse games to continue in spite of the rain.
Injury Risk Doesn’t Increase Significantly when Playing in the Rain
The most important thing to consider when analyzing a sport’s playability in harsh weather conditions is the prospect of injury. If there’s a much higher likelihood of injury, it’s probably not a smart idea to continue play.
Fortunately, the presence of rain has little impact on the likelihood of injury. There are no additional high injury risk situations associated with rainy conditions in lacrosse. With other popular sports, this is not the case.
Take baseball for example. The landscape of the infield dirt drastically changes when wet, so much so that players are much more likely to turn their ankle. The infield dirt is very much a high traffic area and players need to have solid footing to be able to run freely and shuffle quickly. Due to the additional injury risk presented by the infield dirt, this is one of the major reasons why baseball games are cancelled in the presence of rain.
For the most part, lacrosse games don’t face this issue. The majority of lacrosse games are conducted on turf football fields. In the presence of rain, players are still able to make sharp cuts and run at full speed with the help of their cleats. Since it isn’t much more likely for players to experience a lower leg injury in the rain, lacrosse games persist.
Lacrosse Equipment is Designed to Stand Up to Weather Abuse
In addition, the playing equipment for lacrosse is made to perform under harsh weather conditions. Players need not worry about their gear failing them just because the rain is pouring down.
Protective Equipment is Weatherproof – For one, all of the protective equipment in lacrosse is still able to do its job in spite of the rain. Moisture does not detract from the equipment’s ability to protect the player from defensive checks and errant shots.
For example, raindrops just bead off of the surface of a lacrosse helmet, having no effect on its impact resistance. Although lacrosse shoulder pads, arm pads, and gloves may absorb some moisture due to its porous foam technology, they’re capable of withstanding heavy impacts.
If a few raindrops rendered lacrosse protective equipment ineffective, I’m sure these equipment manufactures would’ve been out of business by now.
Lacrosse Heads & Shafts are Waterproof – Furthermore, the main parts of the lacrosse stick—the head and the shaft—are waterproof.
Lacrosse heads are primarily made of plastic and lacrosse shafts are primarily made of metal or carbon fiber. Raindrops have no way of weakening the sturdiness of these materials because they have no way of infusing into the material!
The surface of the shaft may feel slicker, but this is a problem that can easily be overcome.
Modern Stringing Materials are Much More Durable – The biggest equipment vulnerability are the strings holding the lacrosse stick netting together in one piece. Obviously, these strings lack the tensile strength of metal or carbon fiber, but they’re still able to hold their own in the rain.
As lacrosse stringing manufacturers have continually evolved and streamlined their methods, these strings have increasingly become more durable. In the early days of lacrosse, replacing strings was a common practice, as threads would fray and snap with regular use. Now, lacrosse pockets have been known to last multiple seasons without breaking, even when faced with the challenge of rain games.
Shooting Accurately in the Rain is Difficult, But Not Impossible
As you probably know, the object of lacrosse is to score more goals than the opposing team. To score goals, players need to be able to shoot with precision and accuracy.
Rainy conditions definitely favor the defense more than the offense since shooting with precision is more of a challenge. The additional slickness on the ball due to the excess moisture causes the ball to release from the pocket faster than normal. The added slickness on the pocket only makes this problem worse.
The earlier release of the ball results in players throwing higher than normal. As a result, shooters have a hard time fitting the ball through tight windows left open on the goal. More shots end up sailing out of bounds or flying into the goalie’s stick.
Nonetheless, offensive players still find a way to put the ball in the back of the net. Although the frequency of scoring may go down, lacrosse teams can still achieve their overall objective of scoring more goals than the other team. As long as this objective remains possible, the game may continue as planned.
Rain Complicates Fundamental Lacrosse Maneuvers, But Fails to Render Them Impossible
Along with shooting, all other fundamental lacrosse movements are still possible to do as well. All the essentials, including cradling, passing, catching, dodging, and checking, are still feasible in the midst of the rain.
This is mainly because well strung lacrosse sticks are still perfectly functional when wet. Lacrosse sticks that are already borderline illegal may face some issues, but the majority of sticks are able to withstand the rain.
This is not to say that performing these lacrosse maneuvers will be easy. Rain does complicate matters since it makes everything so slick, but skilled players can overcome this problem with ease. Adapting to the weather is just another part of the game.
Since every necessary lacrosse skill can still be performed in spite of the rain, there’s no reason for officials to stop the game when the rain showers start to drop.
Example of Lacrosse Being Played in the Rain
If for whatever reason you’re still not convinced lacrosse can be played in the rain, I provided a clip of Brown University versus the Boston Cannons in a heavily contested rain matchup. The downpour was so strong that they actually titled the video about it!
As you can see, the game isn’t always pretty, but the most talented players still find a way to get the job done. At the end of the day, the rain is a welcome challenge for these players. I believe I can speak for these players when I say that they would much rather brave the rain than forfeit the match entirely.
How to Decide Whether It’s Safe to Play in the Rain: The Do’s and Don’ts
Safety is of the utmost concern to the lacrosse players, coaches, and officials involved in a game. There are a couple things that teams and referees must take into account before finalizing their decision on whether or not it’s safe to carry on with the game under rainy conditions.
The Threat or Presence of Lightning
If there has been warning of lightning in the area, then this is a scenario where the game must be delayed immediately. Not only are players playing in the middle of a flat field with no other tall objects around, they’re carrying long metal sticks high in the air! Obviously, this is something we want to avoid when lightning is nearby.
Swampy Field Conditions
Swampy field conditions is another situation where a lacrosse game should be delayed.
These conditions typically occur when a lacrosse game is held on a grass field. In heavy rain, the grass field turns into a muddy sludge, making it awfully difficult for players to gain proper footing. Not to mention that it also ruins the netting on lacrosse sticks. Mud and strings do not bode well together.
Turf fields can also turn swampy in particularly heavy rains. If the field is doused in puddles, it may be enough for referees to delay the game or call it off completely. Playing lacrosse in puddles is not fun for anyone, so it makes sense to just wait out the storm and reschedule for another day.
Aside from the presence of lightning or swampy field conditions, it’s up to the officials to announce the ultimate decision. The officials will almost always allow a game to continue in a light drizzle. However, if there’s some other problem that has arisen, such as tornado-like wind conditions that has accompanied the rain, they have final say as to whether or not the game should continue.
How Often are Lacrosse Games Played in the Rain?
The answer to this question really depends on where you’re playing lacrosse. If you play lacrosse somewhere in the Southwest, for example, you’re not going to have many rain games. There simply aren’t that many opportunities for them to happen.
Having played lacrosse for years in the midwest, I can tell you that rain games were a rather common occurrence. During my high school season, I could always count on there being a few rain games scattered throughout the season. Since high school lacrosse is played during the spring season, March and April always brought a couple of rain showers.
Believe it or not, I even had my fair share of snow games! And yes, lacrosse can be played in the snow.
If you’re in an area where there’s snow aplenty, click over to my article Can You Play Lacrosse in the Snow? to learn some helpful tips on how to play at peak performance during snow games.
Should You Practice Lacrosse in the Rain?
Since lacrosse games do occasionally carry on in the rain, some players wonder whether it’s worth practicing in the rain as well. Personally, I hold the belief that you should prepare for whatever happens in the game, including the weather.
In my case, the rain was a crucial factor playing in the midwest. I was well aware that there would be a few games every season that would take place in the rain, so I made sure to suit up and prepare for these conditions on my own time.
Like it or not, the rain does have a strong significant impact on your passing and shooting accuracy. These skills are imperative to player performance, especially if you’re an offensive player. If you’re unable to perform these basic skills in the rain, you’ll be rendered completely ineffective on the field.
You might think it’s crazy, but I highly recommend that you take the time to hone in your stick skills under rainy conditions. This way, it won’t be a total shock when the downpour hits in the middle of a game. Not many players are willing to go to these extreme lengths, so you’ll be that much better for having put in the time.
As a side note, practice with a backup stick if you do choose to do this. Although lacrosse pockets can get wet, overexposure to water can slowly deform your pocket over time, so be wary of this.
Tips on How to Play Lacrosse in the Rain
Ultimately, practice makes perfect when dealing with the rain. However, there are a couple of neat tricks that you can use to help you perform at your best.
Stow Your Lacrosse Stick Away from the Rain Before the Game
Since you’re used to playing with a dry lacrosse stick more than anything else, it’s best to keep it stowed away during pre-game warm ups. Instead of warming up with your gamer, play with your backup stick at first. Once your stick gets wet, it’ll be awhile before it gets dry again.
The reason for doing this is that the downpour may subside by the time the game time rolls around. Everyone around you will have pockets that are soaked with water, while you’ll be the only one to come out of the affair unscathed.
Aim Slightly Lower than Your Intended Target
As mentioned earlier, lacrosse sticks have a natural tendency to throw higher in rainier conditions due to the slickness on the ball and the pocket.
To counteract this effect, you need to aim slightly lower than you normally do to throw the ball right where you want it to go. This may take a bit of an adjustment period, so it’s in your best interest to get a solid warm-up in prior to the game to resolve these issues.
Other times, the ball may be throwing a tad lower than normal due to the pocket bagging out to a lower depth. In this situation, you’re going to want to aim a touch higher than you normally would to throw the ball right.
If your stick is throwing wildly inaccurate, you may even have to adjust the length of the bottom string to fix these throwing issues. Remember that tightening the bottom string makes the stick throw higher, whereas loosening the bottom string makes the stick throw lower.
Close the Distance Between Passes Whenever Possible
Since the rain will likely make your throws slightly less consistent, it’s good to get in the habit of shortening up the passes while you’re in game.
The longer the pass is, the harder it will be to deliver it there. Instead of attempting to throw a pass across the length of the field, try to use your legs to move closer to your teammate before you actually throw the pass. This way, throwing an accurate pass won’t be that daunting of a task.
It may seem like a petty thing to do, but trust me, it has saved me from a lot of potential turnovers in game. The less unforced turnovers that you commit, the better.
Best Lacrosse Mesh for Playing in the Rain
To close off, my final tip for you is to consider investing in a high performance mesh to string into your pocket.
Although standard mesh is a viable option, it doesn’t quite have that consistency when faced with adverse weather conditions. Originally, I was hesitant to jump onto the high performance mesh bandwagon because I thought it was just a ploy to sell mesh at a higher price. After personally experimenting with high performance mesh, however, I found that these mesh products are worth every penny.
I’ve tried out the high performance mesh from both StringKing and East Coast Dyes. Each are a noticeable step up from standard mesh, but I personally prefer the East Coast Dyes Hero Mesh above all the others. After playing with this mesh in the rain or snow, my throws remained very consistent. I didn’t even have to adjust my throwing motion all that much, if at all.
So if you haven’t already, give high performance mesh a try. It’ll up your rain game without you having to put any extra work on your end.