Can You Start Lacrosse in High School?


With lacrosse slowly creeping into the athletic spotlight, people are flocking to the sport from all over the place. Some high schoolers are of the belief that it is too late for them to pick up a lacrosse stick for the first time.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are many athletes that pick up lacrosse for the first time during high school. Although this sport may seem overly complicated from an outside perspective, high school athletes can develop their lacrosse skills rather quickly if they put in the time and effort.

This may come as a bit of a shock considering that many high school sports are difficult to break into at the high school level. Surprisingly, some of the best lacrosse players of our generation started lacrosse in high school. If you want to find out the exact details about this cinderella story, keep reading further!

Why It’s Not Too Late to Start Lacrosse in High School

A great deal of high school athletes come in with the preconceived notion that lacrosse has an impenetrable barrier to entry. They believe that the learning curve is too steep to be overcome so late in the game. In fact, the truth of the matter is quite the opposite.

There are several reasons as to why this is. The most notable points are investigated in greater detail below.

Many Lacrosse Players Do Not Join Until Middle School

Unlike sports such as baseball or basketball, lacrosse is not a sport where many of its players start from an extremely young age. In fact, many players that feed into high school lacrosse pick up a lacrosse stick for the first time right around middle school.

I actually fit into this demographic myself. The first time I started playing lacrosse formally was the summer going into 8th grade. It is a decision for which I am eternally grateful.

If you start lacrosse in high school, there will a substantial amount of players that will only have a couple years head start on you. With hard work and dedication, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to reach their skill level over the course of the season.

It may seem intimidating initially to step onto the field with the likes of players that have a few years of experience under their belt, but it isn’t nearly as big of an advantage as you think it is. Put simply, this extra head start will only bog you down if you let it.

Only Played During the Spring Season

In addition, high school lacrosse is traditionally played during the spring season. The high school season formally starts around the middle of March, but try-outs can be scheduled as early as February. The season then progresses throughout the month of May depending how far a team makes it into the playoffs.

If you think about it, the high school lacrosse season is rather short. It lasts slightly less than three months on average. This leaves players with an extended offseason to do one of two things: get better or get worse.

The off-season is where lacrosse players can see the biggest jump in their game. This is welcome news to you because it offers you an opportunity to level the playing field. While other high school players are slacking and binging Netflix, you can devote a tremendous amount of time to honing in on the craft and surpassing your peers.

Although this path may not be easy, it certainly is rewarding. So if you’re worried about your lacrosse skills not being up to par during practice or games, put in some work during the offseason! Every repetition counts.

If you live in a place where snow could potentially interrupt your offseason training plans leading up to the lacrosse season, check out my article 10 Tips on How to Get Better at Lacrosse in the Winter. If you are looking for more general advice on how to start off on the right foot as a lacrosse beginner, check out my article 20 Beginner Tips on How to Become a Better Lacrosse Player.

A Variety of Ways to Earn Playing Time During Games

Furthermore, there are a diverse assortment of ways that a high school lacrosse novice can earn a spot on the field.

Lacrosse features an abundance of positions to choose from. With ten players per team out and about on the field at all times, there are bound to be certain positions that lack depth.

By identifying these specific areas where your lacrosse team is lacking depth, you can specialize your skill set to this area and progress up the ladder. In due time, you can earn yourself a sufficient amount of playing time if you play your cards right.

If you haven’t noticed already, lacrosse is a run heavy sport. Because of this, players get real tired, real quick. Some positions more than others. This also opens the door for you to get a taste of live gameplay and feel the rush of adrenaline that inevitably comes with playing lacrosse.

Example of a Professional Lacrosse Player that Started in High School

A shining example of a high school athlete turned lacrosse superstar is Greg Gurenlian.

For those of you that do not know, Gurenlian is the premier face-off man in Major League Lacrosse. He is a 6x MLL All Pro, 5x MLL All Star, and the only face-off specialist ever to win MLL MVP. Needless to say, most people are shocked to find out that Gurenlian only picked up the sport as a high school freshman.

To hear the story from Greg Gurenlian himself, check out the video below!

This just goes to show that it is never too late to start lacrosse. If you doubt in your ability to find success in lacrosse as a high school novice, just think back to the story of Greg Gurenlian. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even end up as a professional lacrosse MVP one day.

My Rebuttals to Common Excuses Against High Schoolers Joining Lacrosse

For whatever reason, a great deal of athletes are reluctant to join lacrosse as a beginner at the high school level. They come up with a laundry list of excuses for why they should not participate.

I am here to tell you that these excuses are negligible in the overall grand scheme of things. Below, I have outlined my rebuttals against some of the most common excuses high school athletes make as to why they shouldn’t join lacrosse.

Argument #1: I Won’t Be Able to Keep Up with the Rest of the Team

This is the number one excuse that high school athletes make for not going out for the lacrosse team. They refuse to join because they feel as though their skills will never reach a point where they are on par with the rest of the team.

There will be growing pains at the beginning if you are brand new to the sport. However, these stumbling blocks will eventually fade with time. As you continue to familiarize yourself with the sport and increase your lacrosse IQ, this feeling of alienation will withdraw into the background.

Plus, many novices overlook the fact that there are so many ways that you can individually improve your game in and out of practice. These opportunities can help accelerate your development tenfold if you put your mind to it.

My advice to you is to just immerse yourself entirely into the game of lacrosse. Cradle around the house, watch lacrosse videos online, play wall ball, and read through lacrosse websites like you’re doing right now!

This website has an abundance of articles that touch on practically every lacrosse topic you can think of. You don’t have to just limit yourself to this website, but just soak up as much lacrosse knowledge as you can during these beginning phases.

Every lacrosse player has been the new kid on a new team at some point. The learning process is not pretty for anyone, but this should not stop you from attempting to uncover a new athletic passion. Just push past the beginning stages. It will be well worth it in the end.

Argument #2: It’s Not Worth It to Only Play For a Couple Seasons

The next excuse that high school athletes make is that it is just not worth it to go out for the lacrosse team if they are only able to play for a few seasons. They argue that they just do not get the value out of the time commitment and monetary investment they are putting forth.

In my personal experience, I have found this argument not to be the case. I had a few teammates that went out for the lacrosse team during high school and I never heard a word of regret ever come from their mouths.

This is because lacrosse is a lot more than how many hours you spend out on the field. There are so many facets to high school lacrosse that many people just don’t even take into account.

Some of my best memories from lacrosse were the rowdy bus rides over to games, the nonchalant pregame shoot arounds, and the all you can eat team dinners. This had nothing to do with the actual live game play, but these moments were memorable nonetheless.

Sharing these priceless moments for a couple of seasons is better than nothing at all.

Argument #3: I Don’t Want to Be a Benchwarmer

Playing time is another common excuse for high school athletes to forgo their lacrosse aspirations.

As aforementioned, there is a ton of opportunity for playing time in lacrosse. With players constantly running up and down the field, there will need to be substitutions on a relatively consistent basis. Not only that, but there are certain skill sets that novices can acquire right off the bat to get on the field immediately.

For example, there is a thing called a ground ball in lacrosse. A ground ball is a loose ball that is essentially a way for teams to fight tooth and nail for extra possessions, similar to rebounds in basketball.

Lacrosse coaches are on a constant search for players that are willing to scrap as hard as they can for a ground ball, no matter the circumstances.

This is a perfect opportunity for new high school lacrosse players to earn playing time because it requires little to no experience at all. All they have to do is outwork the competition and consistently come out of scrums with possession of the loose ball.

This is just one means to get out on the field during games, but there are plenty of other ways. Although this does not guarantee that you will earn playing time, it is certainly comforting to know that there are opportunities out there.

Potential Benefits of Playing Lacrosse During High School

Now that you know the reasons why you can start lacrosse in high school, you likely want to know the reasons why you should start lacrosse in high school.

Without further ado, here are some of the top benefits to picking up lacrosse at the high school level.

Introduces You to a Core Group of Friends

The bonds forged through athletics are unlike the friendships made in the classroom or at work. There is something particularly special about a young group of high schoolers binding together to work towards a common goal.

Whether you feel like it or not, you will see the same faces day in and day out over the lacrosse team. It is inevitable that you will get to know the guys around you as the season progresses.

I always thought it was fascinating how the team dynamic would steadily establish itself over the course of the season. For me, it was almost like a cast of characters in a movie or a TV show. You had the wild cards, the goof balls, the rebels, and the leaders that bound everyone together. Whether it was pure talent or lighthearted humor, everyone had something to bring to the table.

Surely there will be highs and lows, but each experience will build upon the last. With every encounter, you will begin to realize that you will have unintentionally built some lasting connections along the way.

Teaches You the Principles of Discipline and Hard Work

In addition, high school lacrosse emphasizes the importance of discipline and hard work.

As previously discussed, lacrosse is not all sunshine and rainbows. There will be trials where you will be battle tested. It will be hard. But in the words of Tyler Durden from Fight Club…

You wanna make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs.

In other words, if you want to reap the benefits of lacrosse, you have to be willing to push past your breaking point. These virtues of discipline and work ethic do not strictly apply to lacrosse, they carry over to every other facet of life as well.

Philosophical rant aside, lacrosse offers players the chance to get stronger physically and mentally.

Pushes You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Finally, participating in lacrosse for the first time during high school forces you to venture into unfamiliar territory.

For the majority of high schoolers, this would seem like a negative rather than a positive. But often times, the best memories begin with a step into the unknown.

Too many times are we conditioned to remain in our personal bubble without ever attempting to pursue the things we like. If you like lacrosse, you should do it! Plain and simple.

Although it is easy to say, I understand it is a lot harder to do. But you should not refrain from trying something new just because you are uncomfortable. If you take that leap of faith, your future self will thank you for it. Not to mention that this may help you to pursue other passions that may have seemed intimidating initially.

That was what happened to me. I was weary of trying lacrosse at first, but I pushed my comfort zone and went for it anyway. After that, I continued to push my limits by joining a club lacrosse team, making my high school varsity team, and creating this lacrosse website years later.

It’s a domino effect. So if you are on the fence on whether you should pick up lacrosse as a high schooler, just do it!

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of Lacrosse Pack. I enjoy hitting the local lacrosse fields and honing in on the craft in my free time.

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