Take it from two of the most iconic Canadians in their sports, Wayne Gretzky and Steve Nash: if you’re serious about developing as an athlete, you should play lacrosse.
“I could hardly wait to get my lacrosse stick out and start throwing the ball against the walls and working on our moves as we played the lacrosse equivalent to road hockey,” recalls The Great One, who’s now an owner of Las Vegas’s pro lacrosse team.
“All the good hockey players seemed to play lacrosse in those days and every one of them learned something from the game to carry over to the other – things athletes can only learn by mixing up the games they play when they are young,” adds Gretzky.
From Bobby Orr to Steven Stamkos, and Gordie Howe to John Tavares, the list of NHLers who recommend playing lacrosse in the summer to improve hockey skills goes on and on.
Right in our own backyard, there’s Edmonton Oilers defenceman Cody Ceci, who was a Gloucester Griffin growing up. And there’s also past Lady Griffin Tristan Thompson, who plays for Nepean both in lacrosse and in the Ontario junior women’s U22 elite hockey league. The future Northeastern University NCAA player won the first female lacrosse gold medal in Canada Games history with Team Ontario last summer.
But it’s not just the ice warriors who benefit from playing lacrosse. Basketball, soccer, football and ringette players will also find that many of their skills are transferable to lacrosse, and that lacrosse will allow them to enhance their abilities in those sports.
Athletic skills developed through lacrosse include:
- Stick handling creativity
- Creativity in tight areas
- Reading the play offensively
- Strong, dynamic defensive tactics
- Strength and endurance
- An appreciation for a new, fast-paced sport
- The use of both hands
- Better hand-eye coordination
- Heads-up play – teaches players to play with their head up and to be more aware of their surroundings
- Quickness and agility around the net
- Self esteem, respect, integrity and fairness
- Leadership skills
- Both offensive and defensive positions and the ability to make a quick transition from defense to offence and vice versa
- Scoring skills are honed by shooting at smaller targets and picking corners
- Creativity of fakes, back passes and shots
And if you are a hockey player and you want to make it on the highlight reel, this is your chance to become an expert at scoring the “lacrosse goal” that’s become so famous.
Whether you’re looking for a little break from another sport while still improving your athletic skills, or you’re in search of a new sports path, lacrosse offers great developmental pathways from recreational play through to the top competitive levels.
Scholarship and professional opportunities abound for both male and female players in lacrosse, and you’ll be joining a community with a rich tradition, dating all the way back to the sport’s initial Indigenous roots.
Visit the Gloucester Lacrosse Association’s website at Gloucester-Lacrosse.com to learn more about how to get started and the programs coming up just around the corner. Or come on out to one of the GLA’s free Try Lacrosse sessions to get a first-hand taste of the fastest game on two feet.