The best age to start playing lacrosse

As the director of the Loveland Box Lacrosse Association, Michael Cotsonas has a wealth of knowledge about the sport, including when the best age is to get started.

And while Cotsonas feels any age past kindergarten is sufficient, there are other factors that go into a child taking up lacrosse.

“It depends on what they ultimately want to get out of it,” Cotsonas said. “Are they looking for the experience of playing a high school sport? How competitive is their high school program? Some programs are less competitive and a current high school student can pick up a stick and go out for the team and have a good experience. Unless you are an exceptional athlete, it’s unlikely you will just be able to show up at the first practice and make the team. It’s best they start in a youth program and really, no later than eighth grade.”

At the youth and middle school levels, Cotsonas said the best way for young players to learn the rules is simply to play the game.

“Doing is better than listening, especially for limited attention spans,” said Cotsonas. “Coaches have a tendency to talk and tell when what the players really need is to see and do.”

Youth lacrosse can be an adjustment for the children and also for the parents, who should understand that the game is played rain or shine.

"Parents should be ready for their kids to be tired after games and practices since it’s a running game,” Cotsonas explained. “It’s a bigger area than basketball, there’s no 30-second break between plays like in football and definitely more running than baseball. They should expect them to practice at home some of the fundamental skills like cradling, passing and catching.”

Cotsonas added that parents should also expect a great deal from the coaches.

“They should expect a coach that is open and accessible to them at any time,” said Cotsonas. “Ask questions, seek answers, don’t hesitate to approach them so you are comfortable you and your player received good value for the time and expense put forth. Parents should expect to place your player in a program where there is a culture of learning so they can build their skills and improve. Teaching rock-solid fundamentals at first allows the coaches at the next level to add in higher level skills and focus on execution and understanding of the game.

“Your player should be a better lacrosse player at the end of the season than at the beginning.”

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