The information on this page is a collection of articles from the site designed to help parents new to the game to become familiar with the sport. We hope this helps to answer some of the questions you may have about the game and what it takes to get your child involved.
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Youth Boys - How teams are divided
Every year we have questions about how teams are divided at all age groups so I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss the ideals behind why and how it is done.
Lacrosse is a relatively young sport. Our club is in its 12th season and we are one of the founding clubs in the state of Wisconsin. For many seasons we did not face the problems that having multiple teams at a level brings. But as the sport has grown, so has the number of participants. What that means today is that our club and many others had to develop a philosophy for creating teams.
Being one of the first to have this problem we decided early on to split teams evenly, distributing talent and not using a graduated system. This is not a new model, it is one used by local youth football and football parents involved in the club thought it would fit lacrosse as well. As other clubs started having similar issues many different league models have been discussed. In 2009 MALA (Madison Area Lacrosse Association) researched the issue and decided upon a model developed in Massachusetts for league play which also supports mixed talent teams. It is believed that over time players develop at different rates and to grow the game all should be challenged and have the same opportunity to play.
As local lacrosse programs grow this philosophy will continue to be debated but for now it is the direction that club lacrosse will continue to take. Players with advanced skills are mixed with new or developing players. This can be frustrating for some, either teammates can't catch passes or the players don't always get engaged at a competitive level. But, all players do improve and through learning from, emulating and playing with more advanced players, most improve more rapidly by being challenged and being put in an environment that allows them to learn. Advanced players benefit through the mastery of skills required to play and through the opportunity to be a role model to teammates.
Our club strives to make up even teams every season. Coaches are asked to evaluate kids and the selection process is collaborative. We don't always get it perfectly right, but we try. There are factors that we consider and try to accommodate such as ride sharing and siblings being placed on the same team wherever practical. We realize that this process does not produce the highest quality teams but a High School state championship last year tells us that we are preparing athletes for the next level well.
Lastly, we subscribe to the Positive Coaching Alliance program and each youth coach is required to complete the Double Goal Coaching program to become certified. Competition is a key component of the PCA course materials as a reason why you play games and as a measure of how well you play the game. PCA also believes that winning should always be your goal when competing but is not required as an outcome. So as a club and coaching philosophy we believe that getting kids to a competitive level is our best path to winning and we have the advantage of having players who can help us with those that are not at that level yet.
If your ideal is to become an elite lacrosse player you will benefit from our program through skill development, practices and games. There are ample opportunities to use the skills developed at the club level to play beyond the club season on travel and select teams. If you are new to the game or somewhere in between, we offer a challenging program and good competition along with the ability to rapidly enhance your skills
Enjoy your season, get to know the kids on your team, and relax and enjoy this game. Everybody plays and everybody wins!
Having 3 boys that play the game, I have watched a large number of kids get involved in lacrosse for the first time. Regardless of sex and age I have some universal observations about learning to play the game. I thought I would share a few of my thoughts to help those that are concidering playing the game.
The first thing I like to tell kids and parents is that lacrosse is a sport unlike any other. It takes a unique set of skills to be able to play the game. Generally the more athletic an individual is the faster they will become effective with these unique skills. Almost universally it takes a player about a month of regular practice to grasp the basic skills of picking up, throwing and catching the ball. During that time it is frustrating but it always ends. The reality is that no matter how good you get, you will never master the skills of the game.
It is never too late to start playing. Like I said above, it takes about 30 days to learn to play. By the end of one season most new kids are close to or at the level of their teammates.
The game is exciting to play and fun to watch. Everybody on the team must play. Having your kid play the game is not like watching your kid get stuck in the outfield or bat 3 times per game. Your child will be engaged most of the game, regardless of the position played and they will be challenged from the first time they touch the ball until their career ends many years later. Kids who play the game fall in love with the fast action and the team play.
The gear does not make the player, the player makes the gear. Lacrosse is the only sport I know of where how the gear feels when you use it is more important than what it looks like. My advise to parents is get good gear that you can afford and then let your kids learn to play with it. When they can tell you what they want and why, then you can talk about upgrades.
Lacrosse emboddies the right set of ideals. To that end the season is considered short by many who have been involved in other sports. We play the game in the spring only, from the time the snow melts until when school gets out. We play hard and then we are done, freeing up the summer to be a kid and enjoy other activities. Lacrosse is a great compliment to other sports and we believe that playing other sports will make you a better lacrosse player.
A phrase commonly used around lacrosse circles is "respect the game". From US Lacrosse on down to clubs like ours in Verona, the game is about respecting yourself, your teammates and the rules of the game. We get it here, and we are looking for more like us who want to learn to play.
My last bit of advise comes from watching my kids. Lacrosse is the only sport I know that has invaded my kitchen and living room. One mom commented recently that her son drivers her nuts, always fiddling with his stick, night and day, in front of the tv, all day every day. Bouncing balls off the wall, sticks on the table when the kids stop to eat, this is what the game is and anything that catches my kids attention like that deserves mine.
Do you want to play lacrosse? What does my player need to participate? My child plays hockey and wants to try lacrosse, can we use hockey gear? I never played and am not sure were to start?
Lacrosse is a simple game but having the right tools always helps. The Verona Lacrosse Club wants your child to learn to play the game so to get you started we will start with a description of the gear required. Since lacrosse is a physical sport it is important that you have the right gear on, sized and fitted properly to allow the player to play the game without being hampered by the gear. Here's what you need to get started.
Lacrosse Helmet - This is the most important piece of protective wear and probably the most expensive item to get started. The Verona Lacrosse Club only allows for the use of NOCSE approved Lacrosse helmets. These helmets are reinforced, have larger and sturdier cages, and typically a visor for play in the sun. If your new player is a hockey player we allow them to use their hockey helmet during the first two weeks of practice indoors, giving you time to get the right helmet. If you are in the market for a helmet, please buy a black helmet if you have a choice. You can add orange trim kits or visit Middleton Cycle and ask for the Verona colors and they can get you setup.
Mouthguard - players must have a fitted, colored mouthguard to play. Clear plastic mouthguards are not allowed as they must be visible to the referee during play.
Crosse (lacrosse stick) - You can spend alot or a little on this item, I suggest you save the big bucks for later when your player can tell you what he wants and why. Sticks are available at many local sporting goods stores and you should be 40-42 inches in length for grades 5 and up. In the 3/4 league a player can select a smaller crosse between 37-40 inches in total length as an option to the regulation length.
Protective Wear: The sport involves contact and your player should be equipt with shoulder pads that extend to chest and ribs. Moving down the arm from the shoulder pad, players need to have elbow pades and gloves. It is recommended that players wear a cup or pelvic protection during all activites. Game attire consists of a uniform over th top of the shoulder pads with shorts, helmet and cleats. Football cleats are probably the best footwear choice as the fields are typically grass and with spring rains cleats add extra traction.
Many hockey players start out using hockey pads and gloves. These pads are typically heavier and more restrictive than lacrosse pads but are acceptable for use while you learn the game.
I have purchased lacrosse equipment locally at a number of retailers. Many of them offer starter kits to get your player outfitted to start play. You can find gear at MC Sports, Dicks Sporting Goods, or specialty retailers like Middleton Cycle. There are also many online retailers that can help you like lacrossemonkey.com or lax.com.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions. If you need any additional help use the feedback form on the site and we will get your questions answered.
Verona LAX Parents,
As the season gets underway we would like to share the information below with you. It is critical to the ongoing growth of our sport that our parents and players abide by common sense rules that help keep the game in perspective.
The Role of Parents
You, the parent, are equally as important to your child's positive lacrosse experience as the coach of the team. In order for your child to get the most out of playing lacrosse, it is important that you do the following:
One: Be supportive of your child by giving encouragement and showing an interest in his or her team. Positive reinforcement encourages learning and fun. Research has shown that a ratio of five positive statements (compliments, positive recognition) for each negative statement (criticisms, corrections) is ideal for helping young athletes do their best. Try to maintain a 5:1 ratio in your comments to your child.
Two: Attend games whenever possible. If you cannot attend, ask about your child’s experience, not whether the team won or lost. Some questions that you might ask before asking about the final score include: "Did you try as hard as you could? Did you have fun? Did you learn anything today that might make you a better player in the future?"
Three: Be a positive role model by displaying good sportsmanship at all times to coaches, officials,opponents and your child’s teammates. "Honoring the Game" is an important part of what US Lacrosse represents. Help us by honoring the game in your behavior as a spectator.
Four: Let your child set his own goals and play the game for himself, herself. Be your child’s "home court advantage" by giving him or her your unconditional support regardless of how well he or she performs.
Five: Let the coach coach. Refrain from giving your child advice when he or she is playing. Use positive reinforcement with your child’s coach. Let the coach know when he or she is doing a good job.
Six: Respect the decisions of the referee or umpire. This is an important part of honoring the game. Your child will pay more attention to how you act than to what you say.
Seven: Read the rulebook. A full understanding of the rules will help you enjoy the game and educate others.
Eight: Get to know who is in charge. Meet with the leadership of the program, whether it’s school sponsored or recreational, to discuss topics such as cost, practice and game scheduling, insurance coverage, emergency procedures, etc.
Nine: Get involved! A great way to support your child's lacrosse experience is by becoming a volunteer for the program. Some of the ways you can get involved: keep the scorebook, run the clock, line the fields, manage equipment, chaperon trips, raise funds, organize clinics and team social events, update the team web site, photograph players and organize carpooling.
UPDATE (6/4/2009) - The article link below appeared in the Capital Times and really summarizes well the amazing growth of the sport of lacrosse in the Madison area. You can find the article here http://www.madison.com/tct/sports/453414. The sport is played by roughly 1000 kids in the Madison area ranging from third grade through HS. The Verona Lacrosse Club represents approximately 20% of that group.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal details how the sport of lacrosse is growing in popularity across the country. The growth of the sport is being seen in both mens and womens lacrosse programs. Acccording to the article, "These days the sport is showing serious growth. Participation in high school lacrosse has about doubled this decade, to a total of 143,946 boys and girls playing on high school lacrosse teams in the 2007-08 school year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, which tracks participation by sport. In 2000-01, there were 74,225 high school lacrosse players. And the fervor goes beyond high schools. A 2007 survey by the National Sporting Goods Association found an estimated 1.2 million Americans over age 7 had played lacrosse within the previous year -- an increase of 40% since 1999."
What does it mean to "Honor the game"?
The lacrosse community has always used the term "Honor the Game" for as long as I have been involved with the sport. My initial interpretation of the phrase was that this is an ancient game and the roots and traditions of the game needed to be preserved. As I spent more time with the game I came to realize that the meaning to the phrase actually encompasses so much more. That meaning, and actively working to preserve it, is the root of the sports success now and into the future.
I talk to my teams about what a good competitor means to them. It brings them many attributes that cannot be seen or measured. First, it elevates their individual play to a higher level. It also elevates the play of the team. It provides self esteem in victory or defeat because your best effort was required to complete and your opponents best effort was required to match your own. Honor the game means you compete with class and respect all of the players, the coaches, officials and spectators.
Honoring the game is also all about playing by the rules. You are honored by your opponent and their effort is appreciated but playing by the rules levels the playing field for all participants. You play the game for the enjoyment of the game, the competition and to test your skills. Not playing fairly takes away from any accomplishment.
This also pertains to the safety of the game for all. What could be a potentially dangerous sport is controlled by the honor of the participants. Learning to use the tools of the game by perfecting proper technique and the stamina required to perform them is the tradition of the game. By maintaining control and poise you honor the game, elevate the level of play, increase competitiveness and maintain a safe environment for all involved.
What this means to the Verona Lacrosse Club and anyone who participates with or against a Verona team is that you will be participating at the highest level you can in the sport. Regardless of the outcome, the games and activities will be fair and the participants will exhibit good sportsmanship on and off the field. The club will be based on educating all involved on the proper way to play, watch, coach and officiate games, the rules of the game, and those attributes will always be supported. The game will always be played under control to provide a safe environment and to maintain the integrity of the sport.
To make this a reality takes the entire community of participants. Players, parents and coaches are asked to compete with class and honor. That is what it means to "Honor the Game".