The growth of lacrosse has created more opportunities to play the sport year-round, but US Lacrosse strongly advocates that young players continue to pursue playing other sports as well. Research has shown that early specialization can lead to overuse injuries and burnout, and there are many lessons and skills to be learned from other sports.

 

The Path to Excellence

In 2014, the United States Olympic Committee conducted a survey of athletes that competed for the United States in the Olympics from 2000 until 2012. Not only did they participate in multiple sports when they were younger, but they continued playing multiple sports through their teens.

U.S. Olympic Athletes

Age Number of Sports Played
U10 3.11
10-14 2.99
15-18 2.2
19-22 1.27
22 & Older 1.31

Advice from College Coaches

Chris Bates, Princeton
On recruiting multi-sport athletes

"These guys have a high level of athleticism but probably haven’t peaked yet as lacrosse players. Once they get to college, they will specialize and will develop and blossom. They usually have a steep growth curve, whereas some of the kids who have been single-sport athletes tend to burn out quicker. Oftentimes, they don’t have as much left in the tank.”

 

Matt Kerwick, Cornell
Advice to parents

“Don’t think your kid is missing out by not playing lacrosse all year long. As coaches, we’d rather see them competing in multiple sports. There’s a lot more benefit to that than in having a lacrosse stick in your hand year-round. College coaches are more interested in the intangibles.”

 

 

Jeff Tambroni, Penn State
On recruiting multi-sport athletes

“I really believe multi-sport participation increases the athletic I.Q. of players. Players can work individually on developing skills, but being a member of different teams provides opportunities to develop game instincts that produce more athletic players. There are parallels between certain sports, and we’ll look at a player’s athleticism in another sport and project his potential as a lacrosse player.”

 

 

Janine Tucker, Johns Hopkins
On recruiting multi-sport athletes

“We prefer to recruit players who are multi-sport athletes for a variety of reasons, first among them the diversity of skill sets that they develop. It also allows opportunities to be leaders, to stay in good shape, to stretch themselves as athletes, communicators, teammates and leaders. Another benefit, maybe in one sport the kid shines and is a leader. In another sport, they may not be the superstar. So they learn to be humble, to be a good teammate and to support the go-to players. That’s a tremendous benefit.”

 

 

Scott Marr, Albany
On recruiting multi-sport athletes

“What we like is the diversity that these kids experience — different rules, different skill sets, different coaching styles. They’re not doing the same thing all the time, but learning and understanding different strategies and muscle memory. It strengthens the mind to learn different skills. And they may experience different roles on different teams, like being the best player on one team but a supporting player on another team. That can be valuable and gives them great perspective.”