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Lacrosse | Healthy Sport Index | Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program

9th

out of 10

Lacrosse

Girls

Lacrosse is a sport that involves contact and fundamental motor skills in a fast-moving game, and it requires hand-eye coordination, endurance, balance, speed, flexibility and agility. Recommended complementary/alternate sports for lacrosse players include track and field and tennis.

Rankings in orange circles compare this sport with nine other sports offered for this gender before customization – meaning each of the three health categories is given an equal one-third weighting. The ranking is comprised of data collected or developed from various sources (75% of score) and expert opinion (25% of score). The healthiest sports in each of the three categories – physical activity, safety and psychosocial benefits – and in each data measurement are ranked No. 1. Note: Some sports did not have significant differences between each other in the data. Learn more about our methodology.

5th

out of 10

Physical Activity

Expert Opinion Rank: 6th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Lacrosse physical activity at practices ranks fifth among the 10 girls sports studied by North Carolina State University. Lacrosse has 37.6 percent vigorous activity; the 10 girls sports average 39.6 percent. Thirty-nine percent of lacrosse practice time focuses on skills compared to 18 percent on fitness.

1 North Carolina State University research observing high school athletes in North Carolina, 2017-18.

8th

out of 10

Safety

16.3

Injury Rate2

(8th out of 10)

8.3%

Injury Time/Loss3

(4th out of 10)

0.08

Catastrophic Rate4

(8th out of 10)

7.9%

Injuries Requiring Surgery5

(9th out of 10)

4.2

Concussion Rate6

(T-8th out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: 8th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Lacrosse has the third-highest injury and concussion rates among girls sports, according to the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study. Injuries to the head/face, knee and ankle are the most common. Lacrosse players have a high rate of injuries requiring surgery in relation to the other evaluated girls sports.

2 Injury rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
3 Percentage of all injuries resulting in greater than three weeks of time loss from the sport, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
4 Non-fatal catastrophic injury/illness rate per 100,000 exposures, National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 1982-2016.
5 Percentage of all injuries requiring surgery, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.
6 Concussion rate per 10,000 exposures, National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study, 2016-17.

7th

out of 10

Psychosocial

Aspen Psychosocial Survey7

3.5

Personal Social Skills

(8th out of 10)

2.681

Cognitive Skills

(6th out of 10)

3.708

Goal-Setting

(3rd out of 10)

3.847

Initiative

(2nd out of 10)

3.796

Health

(2nd out of 10)

1.698

Negative Experiences

(9th out of 10)

Substance Abuse

Cigarette Use8
17.4%

(10th out of 10)

Binge Drinking9
31.8%

(10th out of 10)

Marijuana Use10
22.1%

(10th out of 10)

Academic Achievement

Cut Class11
33.9%

(10th out of 10)

A/A- Student12
50.1%

(3rd out of 10)

Graduate From College13
85%

(2nd out of 10)

Psychological health14

4.19

Self-Esteem

(T-1st out of 10)

2.06

Fatalism

(2nd out of 10)

3.89

Self-Efficacy

(4th out of 10)

2.63

Loneliness

(1st out of 10)

1.89

Self-Derogation

(1st out of 10)

4.43

Social Support

(1st out of 10)

Expert Opinion Rank: T-7th Out of 10

Key Characteristics: Lacrosse rates sixth among the 10 girls sports in the Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial survey, though the gap isn’t large compared to No. 1 softball. Developing Initiative and health skills are strengths for lacrosse. The sport has excessively high rates of cigarette use, marijuana use, binge drinking and cutting class, according to Women’s Sports Foundation data.

7 Aspen Institute/University of Texas psychosocial benefits survey of high school athletes nationally, 2018. Scoring ranges from 1-4, with 4 being the best except for the Negative Experiences category.

8 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

9 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport binge drinking alcohol in the past two weeks. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

10 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport using marijuana in the past 30 days. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

11 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who cut class for a full day in the past month. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

12 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who have an average grade of an A or A-. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

13 Percentage of high school seniors in the sport who expect to graduate from a four-year college. Data from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.

14 Average scores of high school seniors in the sport in psychological health report card. Data for these six categories came from Monitoring the Future Study (2010-15) and analyzed by Women’s Sports Foundation in Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters. Scoring ranges from 1-5, with 5 being the best for self-esteem, self-efficacy and social support.

Compare Tool

Select Other Girls Sports to Compare and Scroll Down

Lacrosse (Girls)
Basketball (Girls)
Cheerleading (Girls)
Cross Country (Girls)
Soccer (Girls)
Softball (Girls)
Swimming (Girls)
Tennis (Girls)
Track and Field (Girls)
Volleyball (Girls)

Complementary Sports

Healthy Sport Index recognizes the benefits of youth engaging in more than one sport during the year, through organized or casual play. Some youth also may want or need to find alternate sports, due to interest or roster-size limitations. There are two types of benefits to sport sampling: athletic/skill development in their primary sport, and overall health. First, let’s take a look at sports that can help develop athletic/skill development.

Athletic/Skill Development

For youth whose primary sport is lacrosse, US Lacrosse recommends the following complementary sports.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Skills

Field Hockey, Handball, Ice Hockey, Water Polo

Rationale: Invasion sports – where one team invades the territory of the other team – are good complementary sports for lacrosse. The similar styles of play in basketball and soccer, where passing and moving are vital, are beneficial for lacrosse skills. Team play dynamics and physical conditioning are other factors to consider.

Not chasing an athletic scholarship or elite performance? Let’s now explore complementary sports that are less tailored to develop skills in this particular sport but can help build a well-rounded athlete for life.

Overall Health

For youth focused on this sport, the following are activities worth considering to build overall health and fitness. They are recommended by the Healthy Sport Index Advisory Group in consultation with the American College of Sports Medicine. Considerations include whether the primary sport is a team or individual sport, the amount of time the primary sport spends at practice on fitness, and options for sports that carry low-injury risks.

Other Recommended Sports/Activities for Health

Cycling, Golf, Jump Rope, Martial Arts, Paddleboard, Pilates, Rock Climbing, Rowing, Skiing, Yoga

Rationale: Lacrosse is a team sport that would benefit from a companion individual sport. It is a contact, running-based sport with a high anaerobic demand. Injury rates are high, making non-contact sports a good complementary option.

Best Practices

Tips on how to make lacrosse active and safer

  1. Practice appropriately. At the high school level, technical skill training should take up about 40 percent of a player’s time compared to 60 percent for competition preparation. The recommended ratio for players to coach is 18:1.
  2. Play in moderation. The length of high school-age practices should be a maximum of two hours and four days a week during an 8- to 14-week season. Develop physical literacy and sport skills every day by cross-training and playing other sports. Lacrosse is a sport inundated with two-sport athletes.
  3. Have a certified athletic trainer at every practice and game. Trained medical officials are a must in any sport, but particularly in one with high injury rates such as lacrosse.
  4. Coaches should speak openly about concussions and symptoms to improve the culture, as recommended by the Concussion Legacy Foundation and US Lacrosse. The core message: A good teammate looks out for concussions in their teammates, and they have an expectation and responsibility to speak up to a coach or athletic trainer if they suspect their teammate has a concussion.
  5. Be smart off the field and look out for each other. Lacrosse has the highest rate of substance abuse among girls sports. Recognize the risks associated with cigarette use, binge drinking and marijuana.

Learn More About Best Practices
Lacrosse Athlete Development Model (US Lacrosse)

60 Ways to Play Lacrosse (US Lacrosse)

Stages of Development Guide (US Lacrosse)

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)