Have you watched a professional lacrosse game before? If you have, then chances are you’re wary about letting your child play the sport. It looks a bit violent with all the movement and the full body collisions, doesn’t it? Well, not necessarily.
Most parents think lacrosse is a full-contact sport but it doesn’t always have to be the case. The rules of lacrosse varies depending on the kind of game being played as well as the players. Here’s what you need to know about this sport:
What’s the Objective in Lacrosse?
Lacrosse is a game where two opposing teams fight for the lacrosse ball. They use sticks and the sticks have nets on them to hold, pass, and shoot the ball to their goals. It’s a lot like basketball except for the fact that players are using sticks to handle a ball that’s about the same size as your average tennis ball.
Now, there are offensive and defensive players as well as a goalie who tries to block the opponent’s ball to prevent them from scoring. While moving across the field with that ball, other players can do their best to steal the lacrosse ball and prevent the enemy from scoring. How do they do this? Well, it depends on whether the lacrosse allows full contact or not.
Full Contact versus No Contact Sports
Full contact sports are those organized games that require or allow physical contact between the players. There’s American and Australian football where tackling another player is part of the game so contact is always a given.
Now, the term “contact” can cover a lot of things. For example, in hockey merely hitting the stick of one player using your own stick can already be considered a form of “contact”. Let’s say that you’re trying to prevent the other person from taking the ball so you’re blocking and touching them with your back – that’s also contact. What about those that aren’t intentional? Like stealing a ball from an opponent during basketball and accidentally smacking their hand? That’s also contact.
The technical term here is “check”. Players who enforce physical contact, or stick contact, while playing the game are trying to “body check” or “stick check” their opponent.
Non-contact sports are the exact opposite where physical touching is impossible or not allowed. A good example would be sprinting or swimming. One good indicator of whether the sports is contact or non-contact would be the presence of protective gear. If the players are covered by gear from head to foot, that’s because contact is likely and they need to protect themselves from serious injury. Of course, that isn’t an absolute indicator because all sports carry the chance of injury.
What About Limited and Semi Contact Sports?
There’s a chance that you’d also encounter the words “semi-contact” and “limited-contact” when it comes to sports. These are additional classifications for certain sports.
A good example for semi-contact sport would be karate or other martial arts. This is where the “contact” is limited to striking or predetermined movements that are scored by the judged. You can find it in combat sports where the contact itself would be the basis of the scoring.
Limited contact sports are those where the rules themselves don’t allow contact, but they happen anyway. A good example is basketball where the rules really don’t let you physically come after the opponent. In the course of the game however, you can’t help but bump into someone and while there’s contact, the referee lets that slide unless it affects the game or is obviously intentional.
Types of Lacrosse and the Contact Rules
The question now is: where does lacrosse fall? It is a contact or a non-contact sport? The answer is – both. You have to understand that there are different types of lacrosse. There’s men, there’s women, and there’s intercross lacrosse. The first two are obvious, right? But what about the third one? Intercross lacrosse means both genders are participating in either or both teams.
With men’s lacrosse, the game is often full-contact. With women however, the rules of lacrosse take in a no-contact vibe. What about intercross? In intercross, the game rules prefer a safer option and requires a “no contact” way of playing the game. Some would argue that women and intercross lacrosse can also be classified as a “Limited Contact” game which is fine.
What about lacrosse for little kids? Again, the rules here prefer a no-contact way of playing the game. So if you’re worried about your child participating in lacrosse – don’t be. For the younger ones, especially when the team is intercross, the rules of the game demand that there is no body check or stick check.
So Why Still Wear Protective Gear?
Understand though that all activities requiring physical strain have the possibility of causing injury. So yes – even no-contact lacrosse players are required to wear protective gear. Their gear however isn’t as extensive as a full-contact type.
To illustrate, a no-contact lacrosse means that the player would be wearing a helmet, gloves, mouthpiece, and eyewear. Full contact lacrosse players however would have addition gear of arm pads, athletic cup, rib pads, and shoulder pads.
To wrap it up – is lacrosse a safe game for a person to play? Lacrosse is safer than most organized sports today. Compared to other team sports, lacrosse comes with fewer injuries for its players. We’re not discounting the fact that there will be some aches and pains. Lacrosse is, after all, a very demanding game. However, most of the injuries that come with lacrosse are minor and are often part and parcel of any game.
Compared to the benefits you get from playing the game, the physical impact is really small and will soon fade away with practice as players learn how to properly execute passes and shots for the most efficient results. Don’t let the fear of collision stop you, or your child, from enjoying a sport.