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How to start a Youth Lacrosse Program

Updated on December 31, 2013

So you got lacrosse on your mind. Most folks that I know start a program because his/her son or daughter wants to play lacrosse and there are either no teams nearby or they are not satisfied with the current club. Having coached high school boys lacrosse for 8 years and having a son on a youth team for the last two has brought me to appreciate those that can get a youth program off the ground.

As Washington State is in a lacrosse explosion, with over 50 H.S. teams and youth teams sprouting out every year, it is an ideal time to get one going in your neck of the woods. Below is information to help you get a success program off the ground.


Some of the difficulties of getting a program off the ground

Unlike High School where more than half of the players have already played lacrosse, the youth teams, especially new programs have almost all new players. New players means programs must recruit from a pool of boys, girls and their parents that know nothing about lacrosse. That's 10 to 15 families that you must convince that lacrosse is a sport their son or daughter should play.

Last season my son was on a boys lacrosse team where they barely scraped up 10 players. Another difficulty of starting a lacrosse program is finding coaches. Like my son's program it was a dad that never even seen lacrosse until that season. Nothing against this dad, as a matter of fact it was very noble of him to step into the line of fire to make this team happen. Rarely can a youth program afford to pay their coaches and if they do it is usually a small stipend just to cover some expenses. Keep in mind I'm talking about areas that lacrosse is new. I'm sure some team areas are very well supported and well funded.

So say you convinced enough players to join your newly formed boys or girls lacrosse team. Now you have to find a field to practice and play home games on. Nice fields in high demand such as turf with lights cost lots of money. Around here it is about $40 dollars an hour (WA). Not to mention the fields need lacrosse lines. If lacrosse is new in the area it would be a hard bet to find a field with lacrosse lines. This means the coach and or director needs to go out there before practice and especially before games to paint lines.

Most of the youth teams I know try to make and maintain a good relationship with different organizations such as churches and private schools that have fields. Using these fields when the church or school are not using them is a huge advantage to a boys or girls youth lacrosse team. Just make sure to take care of the field as if it was your own, that way you get invited back the next season.

The last and probably most difficult thing about getting a program off the ground is funding. As lacrosse is a very expensive sport and in many areas are not sponsored by schools it is usually up to the program itself to find funds. Depending on the economics of your area and how much you charge for player fees this may be brick wall for many programs. I paid $275 for my son's fees to play lacrosse last season. That included his protective gear such as helmet, gloves, elbow and shoulder pads. I had to purchase separately his stick, cup, mouth guard and shoes. So for my son to play lacrosse it cost me a total of about $500 when all said and done.

Free new program start up kit

U.S. Lacrosse offers free startup kits. U.S. Lacrosse uses money donated by the Lacrosse community to introduce lacrosse and grow lacrosse throughout the nation. They are especially focused on areas that lacrosse is not all that popular yet. Everything from tools to help you inform your community about lacrosse to grants that you don't have to pay back.

The New Start Program provides guidance and resources to help new teams get off to the right start. Nearly 2,000 new teams have received start-up assistance through this US Lacrosse program. Applicants who complete the online application (linked below) are eligible to receive the New Start Manual.

Apply online today

The program offers a package of information including:

• The New Start Manual - a comprehensive guide on what it takes to get a lacrosse program started from information about recruiting coaches and officials to fundraising tips and more.
• A CD of helpful documents such as a lacrosse Power Point presentation to show your school or community administrator.
• The 10-minute promotional video "This is Lacrosse"
• An official men's or women's lacrosse rulebook
• A sample copy of the Parents' Guide to the Sport of Lacrosse
• Sample issues of Lacrosse Magazine
• A one-time discount on equipment through participating manufacturers (manufacturers contact information is listed in the New Start Manual.)

Please note that this program is a benefit of US Lacrosse membership. The teamcontact person must be a member.
Click here for membership forms and information

The New Start Program is free to any member, but a given team can only take advantage of the program once.

If you have any problems with the online application or have further questions please contact the US Lacrosse Sport Development Department.


There are quite a few programs that I personally know that have received these grants.

2010 Equipment Grant Timeline/Dates

April 16 • 2010 Equipment Grant application available
June 16 • Postmark deadline for submitting completed application
August 2010 • Notification letters sent to all grant applicants
January 2011 • Equipment shipped to awarded programs

Please contact the Sport Development Department if further questions.

2010 Equipment Grant Recipients Announced
One hundred lacrosse organizations in 31 states will receive US Lacrosse Equipment Grants this year. Through its first 12 years, the USL Equipment Grant program has made awards to over 400 programs nationwide with a retail value totalling more than $1.8 million dollars.

Interested in starting a lacrosse program but unable to fund it? The US Lacrosse Equipment Grant may be just the answer you’re looking for. Grants can include a full team’s worth of equipment (sticks and protective gear) and are awarded to programs within their first year of operation. Applicant programs must demonstrate a financial need and priority is given to those residing in a state or region where lacrosse opportunities are currently limited or absent.

Equipment grant purchases are funded by US Lacrosse, thanks to the support of members and donors, as well as the contributions from participating Lacrosse Industry Council members. Additional funding comes from the Lance Holden Memorial Fund, established by Lance's business partner Jim Darcangelo of Lax World to perpetuate Lance's lifelong contribution to lacrosse. These grants minimize the expense of launching new girls’ and boys’ programs, and help to establish a legacy of lacrosse opportunity that will benefit countless youngsters for years to come. US Lacrosse has awarded hundreds of equipment grants in dozens of states throughout the country.

Equipment Grants are awarded on an annual basis.

You can also check your local lacrosse chapter or organization for grants. For example the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association provides grants for new H.S. start ups.

Fast Break Initiative
Fast Break Initiative | Source

Programs to help educate your community about lacrosse

Fast Break, an initiative that started in 2005, is designed to infuse a fledgling lacrosse area with resources to launch the sport from the roots up through educating coaches, officials, players and administrators. 

Fast Break targets an area which has a limited amount of lacrosse being played, but displays strong enthusiasm for the sport and a willingness to learn and work with US Lacrosse to grow the game responsibly. A Fast Break area should be ready to embrace US Lacrosse, membership within our organization and the resources which are associated with recognition as a US Lacrosse Chapter.

Local interest in becoming a US Lacrosse Chapter led the Fast Break Initiative committee to identify the first target area as the state of Louisiana. Events in New Orleans and Shreveport introduced lacrosse to nearly 400 adults and youths through demonstration games, player and coach clinic sessions, a vendor village and prize drawings.

The growth of the game in western states made Nevada a logical choice in 2006 and 2007. Subsequent events have been held in many other regions of the country, ranging from the Southeast to the Midwest to the West Coast.

Interested in being considered for the next Fast Break site? Please contact the Sport Development Department at or 410-235-6882 x164.

History of Fast Break Awards
2005 - Louisiana
2006 - Nevada
2007 - Nevada
2008 - Alabama
2009 - Roanoke, Va.
2009 - Chicago
2010 – Kansas City
2010 – San Diego
2010 – Phoenix

Coaching lacrosse books

Training qualified coaches

Bless the hearts of those dads or moms that know nothing about lacrosse but put themselves in the line of fire just so they can help get a team off the ground. U.S. Lacrosse also provides a coaching program for new programs.

The US Lacrosse Sportsmanship Grant, in conjunction with the Positive Coaching Alliance, is designed to help organizations educate their coaches, officials, athletes and fans on honoring the game. The Double-Goal Coach "Coaching for Winning and Life Lessons" workshop is one requirement for the Level 1 Coaching certification, which is part of the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program.

The workshop introduces PCA's Double-Goal Coach model and provides an in-depth review of the three principles around which it is built.
• Honor the Game • Fill Emotional Tanks • Redefine "Winner" •
Supporting research is presented from experts in coaching education and sports psychology. Every participant gains access to dozens of practical, proven tools to increase success during their next practice or competition.

2011 Positive Coaching Alliance Timelines
October 1, 2010 • Grant application available
November 1, 2010 • Postmark deadline for submitting completed application
November, 2010 • Notification letters sent to all grant applicants
March 15, 2011 • All PCA grant programs/online workshops must take place by this date

See the List of Grant Recipients
US Lacrosse awarded grants to 46 organizations in 20 states in 2010.

If further questions, please contact Meghan Mulford in the USL Sport Development Department.

US Lacrosse proudly celebrates seven years of collaboration with Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), based out of the Stanford University Athletic Department (California). US Lacrosse and PCA have partnered in a nationwide endeavor to make lacrosse a positive, character-building experience for every athlete and to make the experience a more successful one for coaches, parents, fans and officials.

US Lacrosse and PCA share the following vision: To equip all coaches with the training and tools needed to become "Double-Goal Coaches"™, where goal #1 is striving to win; and goal #2, the more important one, is teaching life lessons via lacrosse.

We are working in partnership to make the de facto youth sports culture one in which every member of our lacrosse community ‘Honors the Game’.

The US Lacrosse-PCA Partnership helps us create the quality lacrosse programs we all desire, and provides every one of our athletes with a positive learning experience, while also giving leaders, coaches and parent the tools and training needed to play an active role in "Honoring the Game".

Please visit the PCA web site,, for more information, or emailRich Pruszynski or call 414.212.8125.


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    • lightningwear profile image

      Billy Packard 

      4 years ago from Maryland USA

      Great post. This is the right way to grow the game.


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