Lacrosse-the Hybrid Sport
Lacrosse combines elements from several sports to provide for a unique playing experience.
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Lacrosse, LAX, fastest sport on two feet, whatever one calls it, is one of the fastest growing sports in America. The hits, the goals, the momentum swings, and the fast pace make lacrosse unique. The unique skills involved are hard to master and use at the same level of some of the professionals and top college players. However, that fact has not deterred new players from trying lacrosse. With seemingly hundreds of new high school teams and varsity level club teams being added yearly, the growth of lacrosse is well documented. Although few colleges rarely draw sell-out crowds at individual games throughout the season, the “Final Four” of college lacrosse draws more people annually than the Men’s Basketball Final Four. This tremendous growth is documented, but one needs to ask why it is growing at such an astounding pace.
First off, the basic physical skills of football, basketball, and soccer are still applicable in lacrosse. The strength of some football players is often seen in defensemen and occasionally midfielders. In the defensemen’s case, he needs that strength to be able to funnel, harass, and push attackmen to prevent scores. Also, the precision footwork of soccer players and post-players in basketball is needed by defensemen to keep up with shifty and elusive attackmen. The awareness of a top basketball defender must also be mimicked in order to properly rotate and slide to opposing offensive players to prevent them from shooting, the way a basketball defense does. Defensive players must be able to communicate the way a football defense does pre-snap, only with lacrosse it is necessary to communicate at all times to be successful.
For midfielders and attack, a more refined athlete may be necessary. Straight-line speed for midfielders and quickness for atackmen are vital to success. Although there are instances where players who are not top-flight athletes are successful as midfielders and attackmen, athleticism is often a common denominator among the great ones. Speed kills; that statement holds true for all sports. However, speed can break open a close lacrosse game. With fast break fundamentals comparable to that of basketball, fast breaks should produce a score most of the time. If a team is able to dominate defensively and open up for fast breaks, the results can be like those of hockey or basketball, in other words it produces easier points. This pacing of the game draws top athletes to the sport and allows for them to use their speed in a unique manner. It is common to hear commentators talk about a top college players successes on a football field or basketball court as well as their lacrosse prowess.
So how does all of this appeal to a young athlete? That burning question needs to be refined. The question should not limit it to one aspect of appeal. As a lacrosse player myself, the appeal was the physical play of the game. For teammates it was the speed of the game. For others it was the goal scoring. The question needs to be-What part of lacrosse appeals to the individual athlete? The game itself is to diverse and unique to try and find one common factor to link to the growth and appeal of the game. Hopefully, the sport will continue to grow and perhaps develop its’ own appeal in the future. However, as the sport grows, its appeal is still based on that of the unique blend of athleticism and blend of skills fostered by that of other sports.