The Origin and History of Lacrosse

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Words: 1043 |

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Published: Oct 25, 2021

Words: 1043|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Oct 25, 2021

The Sport of lacrosse has been around since before the 1700’s. Lacrosse is a team sport that is played worldwide and is the only international sport to recognize the First Nations and Native American tribes as sovereign nations. Lacrosse is the oldest game to ever be played by humans, but also the different types of changes they have made over the years have brought people from all over the world to keep playing this game today. Lacrosse was traditionally just a tribal game played by natives in their free time, this sport has evolved a lot since that time and is played by many kids and adults.

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Firstly, before settlers arrived in North America, the game of lacrosse related closely to Indigenous teachings and practices. The Native Americans created their own version of lacrosse which was an athletic contest of great skill, pride, and spiritual significance. Originally, lacrosse was believed to be a god given sport for the purpose of fun but it was also used for settling disputes between the natives (Pg. 67) . The Natives took pride in their pre-game rituals. Some of the things these people did back then are very similar to what athletes do now in sporting events. Natives would paint their faces and bodies to get into the spirit of the game. They would also paint their sticks and whatever else they used during the game. Similar to nowadays, athletes would have a very strict diet of what they could and couldn’t eat before they played. They had someone called the medicine man. This was someone who would perform rituals on the players the night before the game. The day of the game the players had even more rituals to perform as they walked onto the field, these could last a very long time. Also, pre-game bets were to be made by each player. This is where they would bet almost anything on who would be the winner of that game. They took this so seriously that they actually used this game as a tool against the british. The Native Americans played without any padding to protect their own bodies. Originally, a wooden ball was used to play lacrosse, later on the ball was upgraded using deer skin, then rubber. The wooden ball resulted in many dangerous injuries that couldn’t be treated right like if you had to go to the hospital or get treatment it would be nothing like the care we get today. The fields they played on were around five-hundred yards to a mile long, whereas today they are only about one-hundred yards in length, shorter fields made the game more interesting and they did this because the games when on for long periods of time that it almost lasted around six hours some games. Aswell, they played in bare foot which is much more dangerous compared to the lacrosse cleats athletes wear today which provides them with stability and side-to-side movement. Instead of a team of ten players playing a game that lasted for one hour, originally there was actually no set number of players. There were games where up to one thousand players from many different villages would participate over a period of many days. Lacrosse games were huge events back then.

Secondly, in many aspects, the game changed significantly once it moved beyond Native American culture. This sport has grown rapidly over the years all across the world as advertisement is allowing more people to find out about the game. Since lacrosse moved beyond the Native American Culture it has mainly seen an increase in participation because it is growing so much in the youth sports. Youth lacrosse is most likely the fastest growing because of summer camps and club leagues. Once the Native Americans were finished playing their own way, the sport has improved and became more safe. Nowadays, metal sticks are used along with rubber balls. Players started to wear padding to ensure safety and protection. Originally, lacrosse was played without pads but as the sport spread to be more popular it was added in. The first type of pads used were gloves the players fingers would get hit. Next were helmets, these were so their heads wouldn’t get hit or cause any brain damage. Next was chest pads. This was to protect the players lungs, ribs, and heart from getting damaged. Lastly, arm pads that came out. Arm pads protected players from getting any broken bones while playing. Instead of playing this sport barefoot, players began wearing shoes which then lead to cleats to prevent injury. Lacrosse is one of the most popular sports played and viewed within North America. As the years went on, the game of Lacrosse became more known and has progressed to a whole new game from the equipment used such as balls, sticks, shoes, padding and nets, rules, and the size of the field the athletes play on.

Lastly, the nets they used where like uprights in football which is significantly different than the nets used today, the nets used today are designed in two different ways filed lacrosse are big nets 7 feet tall by 5 feet wide and box lacrosse nets are 5 feet tall and 4 ½ wide. These to different lacrosse nets are meant for a reason field lacrosse nets are bigger because the field is way bigger than box lacrosse which means less shots are taken on the goalie, so when players get the opportunity to have a shot most likely they will score. Therefore Box lacrosse is much smaller space on the floor it’s the opposite of field lacrosse, you have on average thirty shots a game and the nets are smaller which makes it very hard and challenging for the opponent to score on a big goalie.

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In conclusion, lacrosse is a fun sport that has been played for many generations and will most likely continue to do so. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Originally just being a sport played with sticks found from the woods, now it is a professionally played sport with intricately made sticks. Although lacrosse began with simple focuses it has been changed for the better by many different people, the traditional meanings and values will never be lost.  

Works Cited

  1. Ambler, E. (2019). The History of Lacrosse: The Oldest Sport in North America. The Sport Journal, 22(1).
  2. Barth, J. M. (2002). Contemporary Native American games, sport, and recreation. Human Kinetics.
  3. Beaudry, R. (2019). Native Americans and lacrosse. Salem Press Encyclopedia of American History.
  4. Cavin, B. (2019). Lacrosse. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health.
  5. Cummings, S. (2010). Native North American contributions to sports. In A Companion to American Sport History (pp. 11-28). Wiley-Blackwell.
  6. Davidson, J. M. (1979). Lacrosse, the national game of the Iroquois. Smithsonian Institution Press.
  7. Hattenhauer, D. (2012). Lacrosse: A History of the Game. Baltimore: JHU Press.
  8. Johnson, J. (2017). Native American Lacrosse Sticks. Smithsonian American Indian Museum.
  9. Jones, J. P. (2019). Lacrosse, Canadian. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health.
  10. Todd, J. (2018). How the Native American Game of Lacrosse Became a Mainstream Sport. Smithsonian Magazine.
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The Origin And History Of Lacrosse. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from
“The Origin And History Of Lacrosse.” GradesFixer, 25 Oct. 2021,
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