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Safety Tips: Lacrosse

There's a reason lacrosse has been called the fastest-growing sport in America. It's fast-moving and fun to play and watch. But when everyone's moving so fast and using sticks to sling a solid rubber ball around, injuries are bound to happen occasionally.

To keep things as safe as possible while playing lacrosse, follow these tips.

Why Is Lacrosse Safety Important?

The rules of boys' lacrosse allow for a lot more contact than in girls' lacrosse. But even in girls' lacrosse, players collide, and people accidentally get hit with sticks and balls. Strains and sprains are the most common injuries. Concussions are also common. Other injuries include bruises, ligament tears, and overuse injuries (RSIs) like tendonitis and stress fractures.

Getting hit with a stick or a ball can break or sprain fingers, hands, or wrists. And if a stick or the ball hits someone in the face, it can break teeth or injure the eyes.

Gearing Up

The right protective gear is important for any sport, especially a contact sport like boys' lacrosse. All gear should be approved for lacrosse and fit correctly.

Here are some other things to think about when it comes to safety gear:

Goalie Gear

Some players can shoot a 5-ounce lacrosse ball over 100 mph. Goalies need courage and the following special gear:

Before You Play

Getting yourself in good shape before lacrosse season starts will help make you a better player and go a long way toward preventing injuries. Start working out and eating right a few months before the season begins. Better yet, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet year-round, and then you won't need to worry about getting in shape for the season.

Here are some other things to keep in mind before you start practicing or playing:

While You Play

Obey the rules. Unsafe play, especially related to stick use, is a major cause of injuries. In addition, violating rules could mean you can't play. For example, in boys' lacrosse, a personal foul sends you off the field for 1 to 3 minutes, and five fouls gets you ejected from the game

Keep your head up and be aware of your teammates and opposing players at all times. Collisions are more likely if you charge blindly down the field without paying attention to other players.

Use proper techniques, particularly when it comes to stick-handling, shooting, and — in boys' lacrosse — body and stick checking. Illegal use of the stick and illegal body checks are common causes of injuries.

If you get a cramp or feel pain while playing, ask to come off the field and don't start playing again until the pain goes away. Playing through pain might seem brave, but it can make an injury worse and possibly keep you on the sidelines for longer stretches of time.

A Few Other Reminders

Native Americans have been enjoying lacrosse since before Columbus landed in the New World. But injuries can happen if people don't pay attention to what's going on around them or don't play safely. Following the rules, taking basic precautions, and being aware of other players will help you to avoid most injuries.

Date reviewed: October 2014

Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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