Protection among our athletes is what is most important to both players, parents and coaches. Most individuals play sports to have fun, be competitive and win; one rarely ever hears an athlete say, “I’m going to play today to get hurt. ” In order to protect ourselves and others, proper education on the sport at hand is necessary. In women’s lacrosse, younger athletes are not allowed to check. When girls reach the high school level the league permits legal checking. The issue at hand, is that the players are not educated prior to entering high school therefor the form and technique is never instilled properly.
When an athlete does not know how to properly and safely do something, it can lead to harmful play in general. If coaches teach girls proper checking methods early in their career, the injury from stick to body contact will lower. Additionally, if coaches focus more on body positioning rather then stick use, injury rates can be lowered even further. Many coaches are now having non-stick practices, which helps the player learn to get in front of their opponent and use body positioning to move them or cause a turnover.
The teams that excel the most in todays game, are the teams that work hardest to play smart and safe. Another way to help players prevent injury is through conditioning. Not only does it build strength, but also endurance to help one go the extra mile within their sport. “One of the most important parts of my treatment of female athletes is teaching them how to continue their sport and prevent injuries. Turge them to participate in year-round or off-season conditioning. Year-round conditioning not only decreases the risk of injury but also enhances performance” (qtd. n Biem).
Year round conditioning is said to lower injury rates by about 25%. Implementing this idea not only keeps our athletes safe but also helps them excel within their game and personal achievements. Concussions are impossible to completely prevent, so we want to make sure that even after a concussion is obtained, we protect our athletes. Officials and trainers of lacrosse urge that any player suspected of having a concussion be removed from the game and not permitted to play again until they have been cleared by an appropriately trained professional (Lincoln).
This is something that many people feel is common sense, but the reality is that this does not always happen. Based on U. S. Lacrosse rules, a player should not return within 1-3 weeks after obtaining a concussion (Lincoln). The rules state that a player should sit out longer and longer periods of time after receiving a concussion as the brain has already been previously damaged. Not only should coaches be reminded of these rules, but players as well. A player needs to be cleared by a medical professional first before entering the game.
Many athletes try to push away their injuries in order to return back to the game, though this leads to further damage that can result in permanent absence from playing and even death. Concussions are a large concern, which is why there are many discussions upon the topic. Athletes need to learn to take care of their bodies before, during and after injury in order to help with future development. Another way U. S. Lacrosse wants to cut down on injuries is to have stiffer penalties for aggressive and dangerous plays (Lincoln).
This means that after a check to the head there are automatic vellow cards, and even red some situations. The athletic world can not truly rely on a piece of equipment to solve the problem. This is an issue that needs to be further dealt with by players, parents, coaches, officials and trainers. Many believe that the best protection is no protection at all. “You want someone to beat you because they’re more skilled than you, not because they’re more brutal than you,” said Kelly Buechel (Schwarz). This is completely right.
We should be taking our players back to the basics first before trying to change the game further. Godwin High School head coach Steve Worfolk tries to avoid panicking his players, but still wants them to play as aggressively as possible. “It’s teaching them where they can move their stick, how to check the ball. As they learn fundamentals, that does cut down on getting checked in a spot where they shouldn’t be checked,” Worlfolk said (Casadonte). Players should be taught skill and technique to not only make them better athletes but better lacrosse players.
If a defender can sprint to get in front of her girl rather then taking a risky back check, then that demonstrates a high level of athleticism. In a way, requiring helmets is promoting lazy play. It is allowing a player to take the easy way out, rather then really working to do their job. We can avoid injury by simply prompting our athletes to become better, stronger and fitter. If every women’s lacrosse player works hard to obtain these qualities, not only will the game improve but it will become a safer environment for playing.
With the introduction of helmets, the game of lacrosse could change and become a more physical sport. By promoting smart play, we can improve the game we love by creating better, safer athletes. Teaching girls skills to improve their athleticism alongside their technique within the sport, can thereby improve the game overall. Lacrosse players, parents and coaches can all impact the lacrosse community by taking a stand to protect our athletes further then just requiring head gear to eliminate risk.