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Physicality in Lacrosse. 1st in a series: Boys' Youth.

Learning how to be appropriately physical is a complex topic in boys' lacrosse. Some of the rules for physicality change as players age, making it a challenge to follow from the sidelines.

US Lacrosse shares the following general perspective on collisions in their 2016 youth points of emphasis:

Violent Collisions - some body contact is permitted at all levels of boys' youth lacrosse, with progressively more age-appropriate contact permitted as players become more physically mature and learn proper checking techniques. However, sports medicine research indicates that the severity of certain injuries may be reduced if a player can anticipate and prepare himself for an oncoming hit and other sports medicine research indicates that peripheral vision may not be fully developed in many boys before approximately age fifteen.

What's universally true about the youth boy's through men's game is the inevitable balance between force and finesse. The game's origins play into this careful balance.

History of the physicality

While data is spotty before the late 1800's the game's current manifestations indisputably came from a combination of several American Indian influences. Where the Iroquoian equipment most closely resembles current sticks, the rules appear to most closely match those set out by William George Beers, from Montreal, who adopted the Mohawk game for club play and exhibitions to Europe. Thomas Vennum Jr, author of American Indian Lacrosse: Little Brother of War, wrote for US Lacrosse:

Apart from its recreational function, lacrosse traditionally played a more serious role in Indian culture...In the past, lacrosse also served to vent aggression, and territorial disputes between tribes were sometimes settled with a game, although not always amicably...Still, while the majority of the games ended peaceably, much of the ceremonialism surrounding their preparations and the rituals required of the players were identical to those practiced before departing on the warpath.

Given how the sport's history emanates from territorial conflict, teaching the nature of when and when not to apply force is fundamental to the evolution of the modern recreational game.  

US Lacrosse shared this video from the Positive Coaches Alliance.  It offers a general perspective on physicality in the game and how to guide kids as they evolve with the game:

Video credit: Sean Carscadden, former San Jose State lacrosse player and current youth coach.

Clearly a careful blend of understanding the rules, playing consistent with your coaches guidelines and abiding by the guidance of the referees is the ideal approach for youth athletes.

The rules by age are available in the US Lacrosse guidebook and we've summarized some of the categories below. A printable PDF version is available here (link).

 summary of checks from US Lacrosse rule book

All the information in the summary above is from pages 58-63 of the US Lacrosse Guide Book.  For more information and associated penalties please see the guide.

The physical nature of playing lacrosse is a balancing act for all involved.  The more we know the better lacrosse fans we can be and the stronger support network we can provide to our growing players.

YML2 is looking to connect the dots and share resources to both new fans and those who live and breathe the game - bringing perspectives on the game from the GLE to the sidelines and vice versa.

 More on this topic to follow in future posts. 

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