US Lacrosse has solicited input from the stakeholders of youth lacrosse regarding the organization’s project to research, develop and implement age-appropriate, national playing rules for youth boys’ lacrosse and youth girls’ lacrosse. Listed below is a sampling of comments about the initiative.
Ann Carpenetti, managing director of game administration, US Lacrosse, Baltimore, Md.:
"Every youth league has some parents coaching kids, but only 30 percent require any kind of training for coaches, so many don’t know how to teach contact. Part of the best practices aspect of this project will include a recommendation that all youth lacrosse coaches participate in one or more levels of the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program."
Jenn Eames, chair, US Lacrosse Women’s Game Committee, umpire, Wareham, Mass.:
"Teams are playing different places and encountering different rules. That makes it less fun for the kids, who may not realize they’re doing something illegal.
"We wanted to take a look at rules and best practices nationally and level the playing field, to make the game safer and more fun. We’re looking at it in a more national way. This is our sport. Let’s do it right for these kids."
Brian Eisenberg, SoCal Lacrosse boys’ youth coach, Orange County, Calif.:
"[National rules] makes sense. You want things to be as consistent as possible. You hope that if there needs to be change, it’s recognized and changed at a national level. Obviously not everybody’s going to agree on everything, but if it’s consistent, it’s easier to have something agreed upon."
Laura Frankenfield, rising junior at Wissahickon (Pa.) High School, youth lacrosse umpire, North Wales, Pa.:
"It would help everyone, especially officials, so much if we were on the same page for rules."
Dr. Richard Ginsburg, co-director of the Paces Institute for Sport Psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital, US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee, former Kenyon College lacrosse player, co-author of "Whose Game Is It, Anyway?" (a guide for parents of young athletes), Boston, Mass.:
"From a psychological perspective, a goal would be to make lacrosse as enjoyable as possible for young kids so they keep playing. There’s been an evolution or revolution in youth sports that has moved away from fun and enjoyment as a priority to more of an emphasis on outcomes and on progressing your skill or honing your craft. While all those things have their proper place in athlete development, I’m seeing that initiative of developing expertise in a game starting too early and too intensely.
"Part of my passion is to help parents, coaches and kids be on the same page for the passion or enjoyment of the game, so that when things get more competitive, it’s not premature. The risk of premature intensity is burnout — kids not enjoying lacrosse anymore — or from a medical standpoint, overuse injuries."
Chase Howse, US Lacrosse men’s game rules subcommittee, Glenside, Pa.:
"By and large, the youth organizations we contacted were US Lacrosse-centric. The most common modification was tinkering with age eligibility guidelines. The age-grade question has always been a big one. That’s obviously not a gameday rule for officials, but there is a lot of variety on that around country. … This focused effort was overdue, but it’s been pretty fruitful."
Dr. Paige Perriello, pediatrician, US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee, former umpire, former NCAA Division I player and assistant coach, Charlottesville, Va.:
"Kids are not just little adults. You can’t take adult philosophies, gear and strategies and apply them to 9-, 11- or 13-year-olds. All groups develop at different paces mentally and physically — you have to take each one specially."
Bob Russell, chair, US Lacrosse Men’s Game Committee, Norwalk, Conn.:
"I’ve gotten some calls and emails from around country. There are some youth tournament directors that want all-out checking for U11 play. That’s insane for an 11-year-old. Playing full NCAA contact is an accident waiting to happen."
Brent Strong, middle school player, Saline, Mich.:
"I’ve been reading up on the new rule changes being discussed. It sounds like US Lacrosse is trying to ban checks that knock someone to the ground. I disagree with this. Eliminating checks to the head I agree with — they’re not safe — but knocking someone the ground I see no problem with."
Rob Randall, head men's coach, Nazareth College, Nazareth, N.Y.:
"I think US Lacrosse’s effort to get all the youth rules consistent throughout the country is awesome. Things have been too inconsistent when it comes to playing in various tournaments in different geographic regions of the country. I support this initiative and look forward to seeing the results."
Lee Stevens, chair, US Lacrosse Board of Directors, Philadelphia, Pa.:
"Ensuring a positive youth lacrosse experience remains at the core of US Lacrosse’s operations, and passage of the youth rules represents an important first step in moving the youth game from good to great."
Tom Spangenberg, president, Mass Bay Youth Lacrosse League, Dover, Mass.:
"Having US Lacrosse unify a set of rules that are geared towards safety, sportsmanship, fair play and fun is a good thing. US Lacrosse is the right place for it to come from."