Given that lacrosse is a contact sport, there’s a great deal of protective equipment that goes along with participating. One particular piece of protective equipment that lacrosse players often wonder whether or not they’re required to wear is a protective cup.
Players are advised to always wear a protective cup, regardless of whether it’s a game or practice. Players that refuse to wear a cup are at a much higher risk for severe injury. Although not explicitly stated in lacrosse rulebooks, it’s an unwritten rule that virtually all lacrosse players observe.
Every lacrosse player knows that they should be wearing a cup during live gameplay, yet some players still forego this practice in favor of comfort. Throughout this article, we will run through some convincing reasons as to why you should wear a cup. If these reasons aren’t persuasive enough, we will then hear some stories that will all but scare you into wearing a cup!
Reasons Why It’s Strongly Recommended that Lacrosse Players Wear a Cup
Although a great deal of players joke about the prospect of wearing a protective cup, it’s largely considered a must in the sport of lacrosse. There are several colossal benefits to wearing a cup. The most notable of which are investigated further below.
Protects Against Catastrophic Injury
The cup is arguably the most crucial piece of protective equipment, particularly in lacrosse. It absorbs the force of what would otherwise be a disastrous injury that could have lasting effects down the road.
There are numerous instances where you could experience a groin injury. A defensemen can throw a defensive stick check that goes off kilter and delivers a blow right in the fragile parts. You can be caught in the crosshairs of a wild shot, your only fault being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s even possible for players to be strewn about on the ground after trying to make a play on the ball and to get accidentally cleated in the groin.
With all of these different scenarios, the potential harm done could be tragic in the absence of a protective cup. The damage done could even be permanent in some circumstances.
Although it may feel uncomfortable to wear a protective cup on the field, it’s well worth it. The risk versus reward for refusing to wear a protective cup is not ideal. All it takes is one bad play for your boys to be mangled for the rest of your life.
Greater Confidence on the Field
Aside from the obvious benefit of protection, another reason that’s commonly overlooked by lacrosse players is the superior confidence that you will have during gameplay.
Admittedly, I did go through a phase myself where I didn’t wear a cup. Fortunately, I wasn’t a goalkeeper, I was a midfielder. Nonetheless, I still consider myself crazy looking back on it. Even then, there were times where I would shy away from certain plays because of a rational fear of getting hit in the genitals.
For example, any time that an opponent would rear up for a shot when I was on defense, I was immensely afraid to contest their shot. I didn’t want to put my groin in such a vulnerable position. Consequently, there were times where I could’ve done more on the defensive end, but I abstained because of my worry over injury.
If you’re a defenseman, this could be a serious hindrance. After all, the primary responsibility of a defenseman is to put pressure on ball carriers, especially when they’re preparing to shoot. It sounds cruel, but high IQ offensive players will get wise to the fact that you flinch every time they prepare to shoot. Eventually, they will mix in a couple of shot fakes every once in a while to exploit this weakness and put themselves into a better position to score.
The added confidence that comes with wearing a protective cup is not only reserved for wild shots. It carries over to every facet of lacrosse.
As soon as I transitioned into wearing a protective cup, I found myself putting my body on the line a lot more. I was a lot less afraid of venturing into the thick of ground ball scrums, attacking the teeth of the defense, and performing crease dives. Honestly, I was surprised at how my confidence shot through the roof once I finally decided to make a habit of wearing a cup.
Lacrosse Stories That Will Make You Wear a Protective Cup
If those reasons weren’t enough to push you over the edge, I’m sure that these stories will do the trick. Sometimes, fear is a much better tool than reason when it comes to the art of persuasion.
My Personal Story
Fortunately, I didn’t have any serious run-ins with groin injuries during my phase of not wearing a cup. Unfortunately, although I’ve not received a lacrosse-related groin injury, I’ve delivered a lacrosse-related groin injury. It’s story time.
It actually happened during one of my men’s league games. My team was currently on offense at the time and there were only a couple of seconds left in the half. One of my teammates rocketed the ball out of bounds toward the end line with about ten seconds remaining. Another one of my teammates backed up his shot and retrieved the ball from behind the goal.
Time was ticking down quick and I knew we had to get a shot off quick, so I positioned myself about twelve yards away from the goal. My teammate quickly passed me the ball and I had a relatively uncontested shot. As I was rearing back for an underhanded shot, I saw a player from the other team emerging out of my peripheral vision to contest my shot. With time expiring and already having committed entirely to the shot motion, I let the underhanded shot loose… and it hit the opposing defender directly in the sweet spot.
He fell down to the ground like a sack of potatoes, audibly moaning. Needless to say, he wasn’t wearing a cup. It wasn’t a pleasant sight to see. Fortunately for him, no permanent damage was done and he didn’t need to go to the hospital, but he didn’t return to the game. Had he worn a cup, the force of the blow wouldn’t have been nearly as excruciating as it was.
This just goes to show that instances like these are possible in lacrosse, no matter what sort of precautions you take.
A Cautionary Tale of Why Refusing to Wear a Cup is a Bad Idea
If my story wasn’t enough of a scare to you, here’s another story for you. This story comes from Lacrosse All Stars. They received a story from a lacrosse parent that harped on the importance of protective cups to lacrosse. The parent has chosen to remain anonymous with this story, but that is beside the point. What matters is the message that is sent here: all lacrosse players should wear a cup no matter the circumstances!
This lacrosse parent was conversing with a nurse stationed at the local hospital. She took care of a youth lacrosse player that experienced a serious injury to the groin area as a result of not wearing a cup. I felt that simply paraphrasing the story wouldn’t do it justice, so I’ve included the exact words from the lacrosse parent below (source).
Dear Lacrosse Family:
I was at the gym this morning, and a customer of the gym was working out talking about her weekend. Deborah X is a nurse, and she had an adolescent lacrosse-playing boy as a patient this weekend. He is having one of his testicles removed because he did not wear a cup during practice. The ball hit him so fast and hard that he was knocked out and sent to the hospital. Apparently, his testicle expanded to larger than the size of a grapefruit and he now has to have it surgically removed.
I just hope we can all pass this along to our sons and sons’ friends, so that no one else gets injured like this, and that they try their best to protect themselves.
After reading through that account, that has solidified my resolve to always wear a protective cup no matter what. I have settled into a ritualistic habit to the point where I feel naked on the field when I’m not wearing one. So bite the bullet, and wear a cup!
Does the Average Lacrosse Player Wear a Protective Cup?
With all of this talk about wearing a protective cup, you are probably curious as to how many lacrosse players actually heed this advice.
There was a survey done on Inside Lacrosse that actually addressed this very topic. Participants were asked a very simple, but very important question “Do you wear a cup?” The survey results are outlined below.
As you can see, the outright winner of this survey was “Yes” by a mile, gathering 66.8% of the total votes. If you’re curious as to the exact breakdown of the votes, refer to the image below.
I always get a kick at seeing the 26 voters that were girls, yet still participated in the survey. Nonetheless, the data that I was most surprised about was the fact that there is still a considerable percentage of lacrosse players out there that choose not to wear a protective cup. Just over 30% of survey participants admitted not to wearing a cup! That’s an absurd number!
In the future, hopefully lacrosse players will start to realize that the safety of their sensitive area should always be prioritized above discomfort. Personally, I like my body the way it is and I intend to do everything within my power to keep it that way.
Do Protective Cups Make That Much of a Difference?
Players that refuse to wear protective cups often make the argument that they don’t help that much anyway. They say that protective cups available today crumble under the pressure of real, forceful blows.
I was curious as to the truth of this, since I had never before questioned how protective cups really were. I sort of just assumed that they did the job without diving too much into the research and testimonials behind it.
After scouring the web, I came across a video that really caught my eye. The host of Sport Science, John Brenkus, brought on a manufacturer of protective cups that claimed his product, NuttyBuddy, was best on the market. What separated this product from the rest was that the creator of NuttyBuddy was willing to put his money where his mouth is.
He volunteered to wear the Nutty Buddy protective cup and take a 90 mph fastball directly to the groin! If you don’t believe me, click on the video below to see this madness for yourself.
After witnessing this insanity, I’ve been a large proponent of the NuttyBuddy. I’m not advertising that you go and voluntarily take 90 mph fastballs to the jewels, but rest assured you can play on the lacrosse field without worrying about the safety of your groin. To get the NuttyBuddy for yourself, check out the latest price on Amazon here.
Although the design of the NuttyBuddy protective cup is groundbreaking, there isn’t anything special about the compression shorts. The NuttyBuddy compression shorts are not equipped with a pouch, so any pair of compression shorts can act as a viable substitute.
In short, a protective cup can make a world of a difference if you get the right kind of cup. If you’re worried about the protection of your boys, invest into a NuttyBuddy protective cup for optimal protection and comfort.
The Bottom Line
Every player should wear a cup when playing lacrosse. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. The danger is far too extreme to step onto a lacrosse field without taking the necessary safety precautions. So if you haven’t gone out and purchased a protective cup, do it now! Trust me, Murphy’s law will get you when you least expect it.