How Does A Child Become A Lacrosse Player?

US Lacrosse through vigorous research has developed the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model (LADM) by identifying which factors are most responsible for the development of a young athlete.  Through this research, US Lacrosse has enabled coaches to set appropriate expectations based on age and best practices to maximize their development and enjoyment of the game.  In US Lacrosse Magazine’s February edition, LADM is explained as follows.

Genetics

50% of an athlete’s ability originates from genetics inherited from his/her parents.  There is a reason that two out of three of Archie Manning’s sons are Superbowl Champions and MVP’s.

Environment

30% of an athlete’s potential is derived from environmental influence.  This includes nutrition, proper sleep, stress in the home (or lack thereof), and health.

The Intangibles

15% of an athlete’s potential is controlled by the athlete him/her-self.  These factors include determination, work ethic, attitude, processing of adversity, etc.

Equilibrium

A child’s proprioception, or ability to orient oneself in space or respond to shifts in positioning continues to to develop through age 13.  While this may come faster to some than others, coaches should not get read into his/her U11 team having difficultly throwing and catching on the run.

Visual Acuity

Vision and peripheral perception continue to develop until the age of 12, yet many lacrosse players have had to look through helmet bars or protective goggles well before 12.  While the debate rages on at what age it is appropriate to have our athletes playing a type of lacrosse that necessitates these protective items (as opposed to soft lacrosse with no protective gear at all), perhaps coaches and parents understanding this can be a bit more patient when junior may not see a wide open player on the crease as he is running down the sideline and having his stick checked.

Balance

The vestibular system of the body that spans the inner ear apparatus and and brain stem continues to develop until the age of 16.

Breathing and Lung Capacity

In children under the age of 13, each breath takes in 1/3 of the oxygen  of an adult breath, resulting in a 50% faster breathing rate.  Does it make sense to have kids this age under these limiting circumstances running the same length and width field as high school and college athletes?

Leg Strength

Leg strength and squat jump height typically corrects (weakens) between age 11- 12 due to the amount of energy expenditure necessary to simply grow during this typically rapidly growing period.  This causes an inevitable dip in athletic performance that peaks again later in the athlete’s teenage years.

What Is The Point Of All This Information?

The National Alliance for Youth Sports reports that 70% of kids are dropping out of organized sports by age 13.  Through LADM, US Lacrosse is determined to stem this tide in our sport by offering players the right kind of lacrosse at the right time so that they love it more and play longer.  This is leading to sweeping change in age appropriate lacrosse formats and training and I applaud US Lacrosse for being proactive in ensuring that lacrosse properly develops and retains its athletes.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of tpics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

 

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