Every year changes are made in the game of lacrosse in an attempt to continually improve the experience and growth of our beloved sport. Changes come primarily from US Lacrosse and occasionally from other governing bodies like the NCAA. Most of the time, changes end up being for the better.
For 2018, one of the exciting developments carrying over into youth lacrosse groups from last year is youth leagues across the country taking the plunge to implement small ball for optimal development of young lacrosse athletes. The small ball approach maintains smaller field sizes and team sizes. The result is that players get more touches of the ball and remain more consistently engaged in play. See the link below for the current US Lacrosse youth small ball guidelines:
What spurred this initiative was reporting by the Sport and Fitness Industry Association that 2007 – 2014, the number of children aged 6-12 participating in traditional sports (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, track and field) dropped precipitously from 35% to 27%. During the same time, the same study concluded that hockey participation grew by a stellar 43% (lacrosse during this time lacrosse grew by a more modest 29%).
Looking to emulate the success of USA Hockey in shortening the size of the hockey rinks and goals for young lacrosse players led to the new small ball standard for maximizing development and enjoyment in the the sport of lacrosse.
From the college recruiting side of lacrosse, we can look forward to a new era where young lacrosse players can enjoy the sport without the pressure of the college recruiting process. In a vote that went down last year, college coaches are now prohibited from making contact with players before September of their junior year of high school. In a college recruiting process that had players signing commitment letters as ridiculously early as 7th grade, this is a huge development.
As already mentioned, this restriction facilitates unbridled enjoyment of the sport without the pressure of the college recruiting process that can be overwhelming to young athletes. It also evens the playing field for young athletes that are late bloomers that may have otherwise gotten passed over in the recruiting process simply because they needed more time to hit puberty.
In girls and women’s lacrosse news for 2018, they will now be allowed to use lacrosse sticks with pockets strung with mesh. This will offer girls and women more variation in their preference for different pocket types that the boys and men’s game has enjoyed since the 1980’s. Lax.com has already begin selling girls and women’s lacrosse heads strung with custom mesh pockets for 2018.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics 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.