Lacrosse

01 Overview

Lacrosse is one of the oldest team sports in North America. Governed locally by the BC Lacrosse Association, lacrosse is a fast-paced game that incorporates components of soccer, basketball, and ice hockey and can involve contact with other players. Gameplay occurs on a field, or indoors, with a goal at each end, and the ball is maneuvered with a lacrosse stick. Injuries to the shoulder, hand, wrist, knee, and head are common.

(see Section 04 - Prevention)
Athlete silhouette
View Common Injuries by clicking the blue dots on the silhouette

Concussions occur frequently in lacrosse. Due to differences in equipment and rules, head and neck injuries are more common in women’s lacrosse. Specifically, nasal fractures, eye contusions, and head lacerations have been reported, with the majority caused by contact with the stick.

Shoulders are the most frequently injured body part during games in men’s collegiate lacrosse.

Hand injuries are common among lacrosse players. The primary mechanism of hand and finger injury is offensive stick hits.

Wrist injuries are common among lacrosse players.

Knee injuries are common among lacrosse players, representing 10 to 15% of all injuries.

Ankle sprains are common injuries, and result in the highest number of days lost from gameplay.

02 Injury Statistics

Youth
Most lacrosse injuries among youth are game-related and are mostly contusions or sprains and strains to the lower extremities. The most common mechanisms of injury in youth lacrosse are from player contact, stick contact, and ball contact. The most commonly reported injuries among high school lacrosse players are sprains and strains, contusions, and concussions. Injuries in males are mostly caused by contact with another player followed by non-contact mechanisms, while injuries among females are mostly caused by non-contact mechanisms and contact with a playing apparatus or equipment.

College/University
Primary reasons for injury among college/university players include player contact, contact with the playing equipment or ground, and mechanisms reported as non-contact. Female lacrosse players report more non-contact and overuse injuries than males. Head and neck injuries are common in women’s lacrosse, accounting for approximately 22% of game and 12% of practice injuries. Other injuries include nasal fractures, eye contusions, and head lacerations, with the majority caused by contact with the stick.

Lacrosse players are twice as likely to sustain a concussion from player-to-player contact than being struck in the head by a stick or ball. Shoulder injuries are the most frequently injured body part among men’s college/university lacrosse. Although players are required to wear shoulder pads, there is a concern that shoulder pads do not adequately protect the chest and ribs from rib contusions and fractures. Abrasions and contusions to the legs are common, as no equipment is worn on the lower extremities during play. Ankle sprains are common, and cause the greatest number of days lost from sporting activity.

Curious about the research on injuries?

It is estimated that...

View Summary of Incidence Rates

03 Risk Factors

Sustaining an injury in lacrosse can be influenced by playing environment, sex, hand grip, and whether one is playing on natural grass or artificial turf.

  • Sex

    Males are at higher risk for injury than female players at both the high school and college/university levels, specifically to the shoulder, arm, and upper leg. Males are at three to five times higher risk of sustaining a fracture than females, although females are at higher risk of sustaining a facial or hand fracture. Males are at a lower risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries as compared to females.

  • Artificial Turf

    Turf burn and inflammation around the knee (prepatellar bursitis) are more common when playing on artificial turf than natural grass, and evidence suggests that it may be more common among players who take face-offs.

  • Playing Environment

    Players are more likely to be injured during games as compared to practices.

04 How can I prevent injury?

Some muscle soreness or joint pain is expected when increasing your level of physical activity. It is important to listen to your body for persistent or worsening pain, and to know when to rest. Learn more about how to prevent injuries in lacrosse.

  • Participant & Parent

    Talk to your coach or organization about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Equipment

    The risk of injury can be reduced by the use of properly fitted personal protective devices, such as mouthguards, eyewear, and helmets. Check equipment regularly for cracks or other signs of damage.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder and back injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for participants and parents to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Sport-related Physicals
    Lacrosse is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. A sport-related physical evaluation at the beginning of each season ensuring fitness to play can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Coach & Teacher

    Talk to your organization or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder and back injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Equipment

    The risk of injury can be reduced by the use of properly fitted personal protective devices, such as mouthguards, eyewear, and helmets. Ensure players check equipment regularly for cracks or other signs of damage.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not the most common injury in lacrosse, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for coaches and teachers to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing lacrosse in elementary schools.

    Learn more about implementing field lacrosse or inter (soft) lacrosse in elementary schools.

    Lacrosse Resources
    US Lacrosse provides information on:

    Sport-related Physicals
    Lacrosse is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. A sport-related physical evaluation at the beginning of each season ensuring fitness to play can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Official & Administrator

    Talk to your coaches, teachers, organization, or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder and back injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Equipment

    The risk of injury can be reduced by the use of properly fitted personal protective devices, such as mouthguards, eyewear, and helmets. Ensure players check equipment regularly for cracks or other signs of damage.

    Managing Concussion

    While concussions are not the most common injury in lacrosse, it is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Education
    Support the use of warm-up and exercise programs specifically designed to decrease the risk of lower extremity injury. Facilitating a regular pre-season coaches’ workshop can improve understanding and confidence in using these programs. Supporting coaches in identifying and overcoming specific barriers (such as time constraints) can increase the likelihood of widespread adoption.

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing lacrosse in elementary schools.

    Learn more about implementing field lacrosse or inter (soft) lacrosse in elementary schools

    Lacrosse Resources
    US Lacrosse provides information on:

    Sport-related Physicals
    Lacrosse is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. A sport-related physical evaluation at the beginning of each season ensuring fitness to play can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Health Professional

    The role of health professionals in preventing lacrosse injuries has two main components:

    1. Providing ongoing education to players, parents, and coaches on effective injury prevention programs such as balance and resistance training.
    2. Ensuring that injured players are completely healed and fit-to-perform before returning to lacrosse to prevent re-injury or chronic injury.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of ankle and knee injuries.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training

    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder and back injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Equipment

    The risk of injury can be reduced by the use of properly fitted personal protective devices, such as mouthguards, eyewear, and helmets. Ensure players check equipment regularly for cracks or other signs of damage.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to diagnose and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to assess a potential concussion, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Sport-related Physicals
    Lacrosse is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. A sport-related physical evaluation at the beginning of each season ensuring fitness to play can help to reduce risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides information about preparticipation physical evaluation.

    Learn more about Pre-participation Physical Evaluation.

    Lacrosse Resources