Why Don’t Girls Wear Helmets in Lacrosse? Exploring the Safety Debate

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This article delves into the question, “Why don’t girls wear helmets in lacrosse?

One primary reason is that governing bodies and schools do not typically require female lacrosse players to wear helmets.

Many players believe that helmets detract from the sport’s traditional appearance and can be cumbersome, possibly affecting their performance on the field.

Understanding this reasoning offers insight into the differences between men’s and women’s lacrosse, as well as the various safety regulations in place.

By considering these factors, you’ll gain a broader comprehension of the sport’s unique characteristics.

Keep reading to further explore this intriguing topic.

Historical Context of Women’s Lacrosse

Evolution of Women’s Lacrosse

You might find it interesting that women’s lacrosse has its roots in Native American cultures, specifically the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people.

The sport has evolved over time, with the modern version of women’s lacrosse taking shape in the early 1900s.

In contrast to men’s lacrosse, which is focused more on physicality, women’s lacrosse emphasizes skill, agility, and finesse.

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This difference in style has likely contributed to the varying safety equipment used in each game – including the absence of helmets for female players.

Here’s a quick timeline of how women’s lacrosse developed:

  • 1922: First women’s lacrosse game in the United States played in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 1931: U.S. Women | USA Lacrosse established.
  • 1972: Title IX passed, leading to increased opportunities for women’s sports, including lacrosse.
  • 1982: NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship introduced.
  • 2001: First women’s professional lacrosse league, the WPLL, established.

Historical Safety Practices

Safety has always been a topic of discussion in lacrosse, but the rules and equipment have developed differently for men’s and women’s games.

Historically, women’s lacrosse involved less contact than the men’s game and was seen as a more graceful sport.

As a result, the sport’s rule makers focused on reducing injuries by implementing strict non-contact rules rather than introducing protective gear such as helmets.

Here are some safety measures in women’s lacrosse:

  1. Non-contact rules: No body or stick checking allowed.
  2. Protective gear: Goggles, mouthguards, and gloves are standard equipment.
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  1. Modified sticks: Women’s lacrosse sticks have a shallower pocket, providing less ball protection and requiring greater skill to handle the ball.

Consequently, women’s lacrosse incorporated safety practices that catered specifically to the speed and agility of the game while minimizing physical contact, which contributed to the absence of helmets for female players.

Related: How to Play Girls Lacrosse? Fast-Track Guide to Join the Game | Girls Lacrosse Rules: Essential Guide for Quick Play

Differences in Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Equipment

Lacrosse Equipment for Men

In men’s lacrosse, the focus on equipment revolves around providing more protection due to the increased level of physicality in the game. You’ll usually see male players wearing:

  • Helmets with full-face guards to protect against head injuries.
  • Shoulder pads to cushion and protect the upper body during contact.
  • Arm pads that safeguard arms and elbows during checks.
  • Gloves for grip and hand protection.
  • cup to protect the groin area.

Their sticks (or crosse) have larger heads and thicker, heavier shafts to accommodate the more aggressive play style.

Lacrosse Equipment for Women

On the other hand, women’s lacrosse focuses more on finesse, skill, and agility, with less emphasis on physical contact. As a result, the equipment used differs significantly from men’s lacrosse. In women’s lacrosse, you generally wear:

  • Goggles to protect eyes from the ball or the occasional incidental contact.
  • Mouthguards to safeguard against dental injuries.
  • Soft-shell headgear to provide a minimal amount of protection (not compulsory).

The women’s lacrosse stick has a thinner head, allowing for more control and a lighter frame, with a slightly longer and thinner shaft than those used in men’s lacrosse.

(You may want to know: Top 5 Best Girls Lacrosse Stick: Expert Recommendations)

Essentially, the difference in equipment comes down to the nature of the game itself, with men’s lacrosse focusing on protection due to the intense physical contact, while women’s lacrosse features less protective gear to encourage skill, agility, and faster gameplay.

Safety Standards and Regulations

Governing Bodies and Rules

Regarding girls’ lacrosse, the governing bodies, such as the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), do not mandate helmet use for girls.

The only protective gear required by these organizations is eyewear.

In contrast, boys’ lacrosse is a full contact sport, with helmets, gloves, arm pads, and shoulder pads being all required by the governing bodies.

Health and Safety Considerations

While there’s a perception that girls’ lacrosse is less physical and has a lower risk for head injuries, research has shown that stick or ball contact accounts for 72.7% of all concussions in girls’ lacrosse, and athlete-athlete contact contributes to 19.8% of these injuries. In boys’ lacrosse, stick or ball contact accounted for 23% of all concussions.

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These statistics show that there may be room for improvement when it comes to protecting girls in lacrosse. Some might argue that helmets could slow down players or make the sport less attractive; however, the priority for any sport should be the health and safety of its athletes.

When considering the implementation of helmets in girls’ lacrosse, it’s crucial to strike a balance between maintaining the traditional aspects of the game and ensuring the safety of its participants. As research continues, governing bodies may need to reevaluate their stance on protective gear rules for girls’ lacrosse.

Cultural Perceptions and Gender Norms

Social Expectations

In women’s lacrosse, the lack of helmets can be attributed to cultural and social expectations. Historically, the sport has been played without helmets, and wearing them now might be perceived as going against tradition. Many in the community appreciate the emphasis on skill, agility, and finesse, without the added protection of a helmet. It’s essential to understand that these longstanding norms can influence players’ and community members’ opinions on incorporating helmets in the game.

Moreover, some argue that introducing helmets might slow down the sport and take away from its attractiveness, affecting both players and spectators. This is especially the case when there’s a concern about the added weight and potential discomfort experienced while wearing helmets, potentially altering the way the game is played.

Gender Dynamics in Sports

Gender biases and perceptions may also play a role in the helmet debate among lacrosse players. The potential misconception about female athletes being less aggressive or needing less protection than their male counterparts can reinforce the idea that helmets aren’t required for women’s lacrosse.

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Comparing injury mechanisms between boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, it is found that stick or ball contact accounted for:

  • 72.7% of concussions in girls’ lacrosse
  • 23.0% of concussions in boys’ lacrosse

While athlete-athlete contact accounted for:

  • 19.8% of concussions in girls’ lacrosse
  • (Higher percentage in boys’ lacrosse)

As seen in the stats above, it’s crucial not to overlook the sport’s inherent risks for both genders, and protection is essential for all athletes.

In conclusion, the push for helmet use in women’s lacrosse faces both social and gender-related barriers. While there’s evidence supporting an increased need for protection, traditionalists and perceptions around skill, agility, and gender dynamics persist in maintaining the status quo.

Risk Assessment in Women’s Lacrosse

Injury Statistics

Did you know that women’s lacrosse has the second-highest rate of concussions among various high school sports? That’s right! It’s essential to understand the injury risks in women’s lacrosse, as there’s an ongoing debate about why girls don’t wear helmets. The primary sources of head injuries aren’t from player-to-player contact but rather direct impacts from sticks or balls.

Protective Gear Efficacy

Now, you might be wondering how effective helmets are for preventing these injuries. In states where headgear is compulsory, concussion rates are 74% lower when compared to games played in areas without obligatory headgear use. So the evidence does show that helmets provide protection against incidental head impacts in the game.

However, it’s important to note that some argue helmets can increase the risk of injury by making players feel invincible, leading to more aggressive play. Moreover, helmets can potentially weigh down players, hindering their agility and speed. That’s why protective gear efficacy is still a topic of ongoing discussion in the world of women’s lacrosse.

Current Debates and Changes

Advocacy for Helmet Use

You might have noticed an ongoing debate about the use of helmets in girls’ lacrosse. Although helmets are required in men’s lacrosse, they’re not mandatory in women’s lacrosse. This has raised concerns, especially since a 2015 study discovered that women’s lacrosse had the second-highest rate of concussions among a variety of high school sports.

Some argue that helmets could potentially reduce the risk of concussions in the sport. For example, a study found that in Florida, where headgear use is compulsory, concussion rates were 74% lower during competitions when compared to states without compulsory headgear use. What’s interesting is that the new women’s lacrosse headgear, designed with ASTM standard F3137, was specifically tested to reduce impact to the head by ball and stick.

Recent Rule Modifications

As a result of this debate, there have been some changes to the rules. Most notably, Florida became the first state to require headgear for girls’ lacrosse. It seems that this decision has paid off, as girls in states without headgear mandates have experienced a 59% higher concussion rate. Meanwhile, concussions were 74% higher during competitions among players in states that didn’t require headgear.

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Despite these statistics, some people are still hesitant about making helmets mandatory in women’s lacrosse. One main argument is that helmets do not prevent concussions entirely, as men’s lacrosse, which requires helmets, also has a high concussion rate.

To sum it up, the debate on helmet use in girls’ lacrosse is far from settled. With recent rule modifications and the introduction of new protective gear, the conversation will likely continue as more and more people become invested in the safety of the sport.


In summary, girls’ lacrosse players often don’t wear helmets for a few main reasons.

Firstly, the rules of women’s lacrosse differ from men’s, leading to a different style of gameplay. The less aggressive nature of the game might contribute to a reduced risk of injury, thus making helmets less necessary than in the men’s game.

Another reason is the concern for agility and speed. Helmets can weigh players down, potentially hindering their performance on the field.

Lastly, there’s the matter of tradition and aesthetics. Many female lacrosse players feel that not wearing helmets is part of the sport’s traditional style and choosing not to wear them can also be more comfortable during gameplay.

Despite these reasons, there’s an ongoing debate about the need for helmets in girls’ lacrosse, especially when considering concussion rates among players. So, you should keep an eye on developments and decisions made by governing bodies in the future. Remember to always prioritize safety and comfort when choosing your gear. Happy playing!

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