The Low-Down on Lacrosse: Its Benefits, Gameplay, and Roots

Lacrosse is a team sport that has its roots in Native American traditions. The game originally went by several names among the Native American tribes in the part of the North American continent that is now Canada, and it had both practical and spiritual applications. When European settlers arrived, they adopted the game as their own and turned it into the sport we know today.

How Lacrosse is Played

Lacrosse is a goal-based game, where players use baskets mounted on sticks to pass a ball across a field and score goals. The game is similar to hockey, soccer, and basketball in that it is goal-based, players remain in constant motion as they pass the ball around, and the team with the most goals at the end of the game wins. In addition to the goals, lacrosse has other rules of gameplay that are similar to other sports. Because of the highly-active nature of the game, lacrosse has several health benefits.

Getting Started

If you are interested in playing lacrosse, you should look into beginner leagues in your area. Some of these leagues might provide equipment, but it’s never a bad idea to invest in your own to ensure that the equipment is in good condition and that it fits well. The standard lacrosse equipment includes:

• Lacrosse sticks – the shaft and head assembly;
• Lacrosse cleats;
• A helmet with face guard;
• Pads; and
• An athletic supporter and cup.
Goalies will also need to wear:
• A chest protector;
• Shin guards;
• Knee pads; and,
• Will use a goalie stick instead of the usual lacrosse stick.

If you buy your own equipment, you will also need a lacrosse equipment bag to carry all of your stuff.

The Health Benefits of Lacrosse

Lacrosse offers health benefits in two major areas: cardiopulmonary and muscular.

Cardiopulmonary Health

The term “cardiopulmonary” refers primarily to your cardiovascular system (the heart and blood vessels), and the pulmonary system (the lungs). Your lungs provide oxygen to your blood, and your cardiovascular system pumps that oxygenated blood, plus nutrients, throughout your body.

When you’re not exercising, your heart rate should be 60 to 100 beats per minute, and your breathing rate should be 12 to 16 breaths per minute. When you do cardiovascular exercise, such as running back and forth across the lacrosse field, your body needs more oxygen and nutrients and both your breathing and heart rate increase to meet the demand.

Over time, your heart, blood vessels, and lungs become stronger and more efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. For people who do regular intensive cardiovascular exercise, like playing lacrosse, the heart and lungs can become so efficient that their resting heart rates can drop as low as 40 beats per minute.

Muscular Strength and Endurance

Muscular strength is the amount of force or power a muscle can produce, such as the force required to manipulate the lacrosse stick and pass or catch the ball or the force needed to run at high speeds on the lacrosse field. Muscular endurance is the length of time a muscle can maintain an activity, such as running continuously for several minutes.

Lacrosse not only builds muscle strength and endurance during game play, it also contributes to overall muscle health during practice sessions, and the training exercise you use to prepare for the games.

As you can see, lacrosse isn’t just a fun and fast-paced game; it can also help you get in shape for better muscular and cardiovascular health. Improving your muscular and cardiovascular health will not only help you play the game better, it will also reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, or suffering some of the loss of mobility and muscle strength that some people experience when they age.


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