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How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

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How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby UKLaxfan Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:24 pm

How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

SWOT


What are the barriers to increased participation?

When & where do new players start the sport?

When and where do players leave the sport?

What's the biggest factor effecting growth?

Why should girls want to play lacrosse?
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby Moaning Git Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:00 pm

I am no expert on Women's Lacrosse but based on my experience of youngsters and the comments I have heard there are a number of issues.

1. There is no joined up thinking about the development of Lacrosse as a sport including all disciplines.
2. Womens Lacrosse in the North has totally different objectives, and approach than in the South (This is an over simplification but bear with me).
3. The people who drive the womens game are "Old School" in more ways than one.

In my experience girls enjoy playing lacrosse, whether it is Pop or the Womens game. In the North this is mainly based around clubs which have junior development programmes, and Womens teams that then play at a range of standards ranging from social to international standard. It seems to me there is not the same level of club based activity in the south, though where it does exist then the type and range of play is similar.

My impression is that the South is very much centred around schools and ladies colleges (Which is where the you have to be posh to play lacrosse impression comes from). There are elements within the North that are included within this approach again centred on private schools and colleges. it seems to me that there is a reasonable level of playing activity at this level, but the only encouragement to continue with the sport are those identified for the Elite pathway, the rest are left to drift away, and usually do.

I see little shared values between the two pathways, and the Centex approach which has provided a viable development model is still heavily weighted in favour of the schools and college pathway.

The biggest opportunity that I see emerging is the spread of the sport within Universities, and hopefully the new blood and ideas this will bring to the sport. New clubs being encouraged to develop women's sections, established clubs doing more to strengthen their existing sections, more opportunities to play competition Lacrosse between clubs and colleges and friendlies with Universities, and encouraging participation by all skill levels rather than simply an elitist approach would all provide a way forward

But what do I know?
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby UKLaxfan Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:16 pm

Heaton Mersey LC will be fielding 2 Junior Girls teams for the first time ever (U12s & U14s)

More Clubs have the capacity to do this but have chosen not to.

Universities are the Biggest Opportunity for Lacrosse Development at all levels

"Joined up thinking" - Agree 100%

There needs to be a co-ordinated ACTION PLAN which should be led top down

The growth of Clubs and improving sustainability should be priority A1 for all Clubs & ELA Exec
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby wildcat Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:00 pm

On a different post you talk about young girls playing against older girls in Australia and how that contributes to their competitiveness.

I disagree, to some extent, about Universities being this untapped haven for talent.
I think that University is too late in this country to help the elite. In the states you can take a coordinated athlete and turn them into a lacrosse player in a couple of years with the sheer amount that they play. That culture just does not exist in this country. I do agree by increasing growth at university you increase participation, Given there is a large drop out from university to club, bigger university participation will boost club numbers.

They need to be got young, with real (not pop) sticks in their hand, and be coached regularly.
Surely teenage (and younger) girls with talent need strong junior programs to enter, at club level. They get more/different coaching and get to play against/with more players of better calibre.

That's how field hockey worked when I was younger, and year in year out both men's and women's teams are competitive internationally (arent they?!)
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby UKLaxfan Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:10 pm

Before you get the opportunity to develop to elite level you need numbers to play.

University is one of the entry points for Lacrosse for Men & Women and benefits from the social side of University sports.

As you correctly stated there is a massive drop off post university with players giving up because of limited availability of non-elite competition.

Hockey is a good example

most hockey clubs have multiple teams (men's and women's) who can provide an appropriate levels of competition for their members while maintaining the strong social connections.

I have very limited knowledge of Hockey but an ex-colleague I spoke with had 8 teams at his club and was proud to have played on all of them in his career on the way up to elite and then on the way down. He enjoyed his experience on all of them for different reasons.

The women's game appears to promote participation for elite players but maybe misses an opportunity of promoting non-elite play either on the way up or post elite play on the way down. This is a narrow minded approach in my opinion and hinders the overall development of the sport.

Being inclusive and open door policy is easy to say and hard to achieve but for the well being of players and sustainability of a sport is essential.

We all know lots of clubs where 90% of the work is done by a few key individuals who are dedicated volunteers, this isn't a healthy situation to be in.
Much better that there is a larger pool of volunteers and club members to draw from.

I'm one of those strange Northern people who talk to strangers especially if they are carrying a lacrosse stick or wearing lax related gear. I've lost count of the number of people I've met either because I was carrying a stick or they were and they have said they loved playing the game but there was nowhere to play when they ... left school, Uni or moved area. I'm pretty sure I'm not unique in this experience.

Personally, I believe there should be much more co-ordination and co-operation between Men's and Women's Lacrosse.

The European Championships being a combined tournament is a positive step, the 2003 U19s Worlds was a combined event that the players enjoyed but the governing bodies of the games couldn't get on so they went their separate ways.

there isn't a panacea

a number of actions need to be taken to help both disciplines of the game
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby wildcat Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:25 pm

"University is one of the entry points for Lacrosse for Men & Women and benefits from the social side of University sports."

For men, yes, I agree..
for women. less sure.

For mixed lacrosse perhaps, intercollegiate sport, but long term growth from that group of individuals - no so sure.
For university women's lacrosse, there are a few, but if I look around the southern universities that play in BUCS they have for the most part played at school.

Most have trials to play - you dont turn up to a trial with no experience!
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby UKLacrosse Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:01 pm

Our experience suggests that the biggest drop out is from school to university!
There must be a huge number of girls/ women in this country who have played lacrosse at school but then never again.
Yes, I've heard the comparison made with other sports and the natural tendency for girls to drop sports etc etc etc.
However, just think about how the men's participation at university has virtually caught up with the girls in such a short time, even though there are a huge number of girls who are at university who have played at school but don't when they transfer to university.

The potential is there to grow the women's game at university, and that alone would bring pressure to expand the number of clubs and teams at senior level.

I recall speaking to the women's captains at Cambridge when we used to coach them. I asked why they only had around 35-38 on their women's squad to fulfill two teams in BUCS? Why not enter more teams, as they must have a huge number of girls at the university who had played at school? Two reasons were given -

1. Haven't the facilities to cater for more than two teams? Really???
2. Many of the girls who had played at school and went on to Cambridge were intimidated by the 'elite' nature of the women's lacrosse team. They believed that unless they were School 1st Team, an international or territorial player they were not good enough. I was told that this was very similar with netball.

My daughter had never rowed in her life before going to Cambridge and ending up as stroke for the CUWBC Lightweights for a large part of the lead up to the Women's Boat Race.

A minority sport cannot accept to be compared in drop-out rates with other larger sports. One easy way to grow women's lacrosse would be to have a higher retention level from school to university. If only we had so many boys playing lacrosse at U19's as they have girls!! The answer lies in how the game is portrayed to girls at school and university. This is endorsed when they hear that the be-all-and-end-all is getting on to Centex.
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby wildcat Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:30 am

You're quite right.
School to university and then also university to club. Two massive drop out areas.
When you say men's lacrosse has caught up with the women's game - surely it already has with several universities having two or three mens or womens teams.
It is not just Cambridge University, but there just aren't the resources to support more than that.

Facilities at a lot of university struggle to accommodate all the request for field times. Coaching has been talked about again and again, and why should lacrosse be any different at a university level to football/rugby/hockey, where there are a couple of main representative teams for each university. Say there is a 60% or 70% drop out rate. Get half of the dropouts playing at university - resulting in say 4 teams per university - the system just would not cope.

The issue of resources in lacrosse would be further stretched if one were to suggest an intercollegiate/inter-mural/inter-hall lacrosse league. Who would ref it/coach them, where would they find field time?

The issue of rowing is a different kettle of fish: so few women row before university that coaches can take an athletic specimen at university and teach them what they need to know in a year (though with a rigorous training program). Hope there are not too many boaties on here that will be offended - their sport is technically challenging in part, but nowhere near as much as the many facets of lacrosse.
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby UKLacrosse Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:12 am

wildcat wrote:When you say men's lacrosse has caught up with the women's game - surely it already has with several universities having two or three mens or womens teams.


Women's lacrosse has failed to grow at university for as long as we've been involved in the game. Men's lacrosse has caught up in just 2 years of BUCS competition? If the facilities have been found to accommodate the men's game, what was the women's game doing over the last 10 years? If the will to do it had been there then it could have happened. The fact is that the game has the 'elite' tag attached. Centex is a great programme .... quote .... 'give me your best 13 year-old and I'll fast track her into the National Squad'. Any girl failing to make her school first team at U19's, and/ or Centex, and/ or Territorials, is discouraged from continuing. Are we really just going to allow this large number of girls participating at school to disappear from the game?
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby UKLaxfan Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:09 am

The emphasis on National Team or bust, as well an elitism is pretty much the perfect storm to stop any growth or development in the game.

There is a disconnect between the performance of the National Team and the Health of the game.

There is a myth that success at National Team level will somehow grow the game, as though girls are suddenly going to say I want to play lacrosse because England won a Silver Medal

Even if England won a World Championship, what impact would it really have?

Nobody would be aware of it!

Head Coach or star player wouldn't be on Question of Sport or BBC Sports Personality of the year

Would it even make the National papers?

If you have a healthy domestic league then the National Team will benefit but not vice versa

England have batted above their weight in men's and women's by either demanding ridiculous levels of sacrifice and commitment or importing players (men's)

It's fine saying School to University is the problem but how do we as a game change that?
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby UKLacrosse Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:50 pm

In well established sport elitism, and success at the elite level, will undoubtedly raise the image of that sport and encourage youngsters to want to emulate these sportsmen and women. The governing body, or should I say, the head of the governing body, has written articles claiming that this is not so, when all around there's evidence to prove otherwise. That can be said in rugby, cricket and yes, even in athletics, in the golden era of Coe, Ovett, Cram, and Thompson. Sadly, there are very few youngsters signing up to emulate our tennis stars. Just as elite success can encourage ..... the interest soon falls off when failure abounds.

Lacrosse cannot follow that path as it's a minority sport with the stars of the game residing in North America. Talking to these stars at times is very interesting, as they are often humbled by the following they get over here, when they can make their own comparisons in the USA to the stars of other sports, where quite frankly .... there is no comparison.

Back to the women's lacrosse scene in the UK!
Let's be honest ... there is no elite! Trying to create that before you have a well-established sport is a waste of energy and money. That is not to say we should abandon our National Squads! They should get far more support than they do, but not at the expense of growing the game at all levels from grassroots, through universities and also at senior level below National Squads. In the women's game, the senior clubs have for far too long abandoned their responsibility for junior development, believing that it's all ok because there are thousands of girls playing at school. Unfortunately, therein lies a major problem. There is no alternative, like other sports. Would we have sucesss internationally in other sports if we relied solely on the schools' activities? Moving beyond schools to university, that elitist attitude discourages many from continuing to play, and there is no alternative because there is a very limited women's club set-up outside university. Once leaving university, unless you live in certain areas, your chances of playing club lacrosse are again limited. All of that changes if you are a top player because you will be embraced by the club structure, and could even get by by playing representative lacrosse only!

Any new junior women's programmes should be applauded, and assisted by the governing body. Those clubs in the North should also be applauded, and helped in every way as they all have junior programmes. Any senior women's club starting a junior programme should be encouraged and assisted by the governing body. Any university with a women's second, or heaven forbid, a third team, should also be encouraged and applauded.

Just imagine how many women's lacrosse sticks are hidden away in a dark cupboard or attic? If they all suddenly appeared on eBay it would seriously upset the retail market!!
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby PaulM Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:46 pm

The sport will only grow when there is a larger support structure from the volunteer areas to attract recognised publicity through all forms of the press. Whilst umpiring and coaching are essential support and require commitment the easiest way to help grow lacrosse is to have supporters turn up at matches (at every level) and enjoy the wonderful game. When numbers increase interest will grow and players will enjoy the support.
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby Tree13 Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:54 am

Can only speak from a southern perspective, but from what I've seen ladies coming to uni with prior playing experience all have one thing in common - they went to fee-paying schools. As a result of this, they tend to gravitate towards certain universities, which means these particular universities remain perennial contenders, whilst all the others struggle year in, year out for numbers - how much promotion and relegation has actually taken place in BUCS ladies' lacrosse in the last few years? I have no idea but i'd risk guessing it's all been fairly static for some time.

Does it not follow then that the VAST majority of experienced female freshers will end up at a handful of universities, leading to the situation alluded to by a previous poster - so many experienced players at certain individual unis that the standard required to get on the team is markedly higher, leading to the loss of many experienced, if not necessarily "elite" players?

If this is the case, the thorny question becomes "how do we convince students from fee-paying schools (ie with lacrosse experience) to attend unis that are outside of the top tier, academically speaking, in order to continue their lacrosse when they might not otherwise do so?" The difficulty you are facing is that someone who is academically of the standard to attend Oxford/Cambridge/Bristol etc is not going to be interested in attending Essex, Kent or Brighton JUST because they'll have a better chance of playing lacrosse. And I also don't think mum and dad coughed up £20k a year to Haberdasher's or wherever so that their little girl could do Media Studies at a non Russell-group institution. Sure, there will be a minority that want to do a specialist course that simply isn't available in many places (that seems to be how Brighton find female freshers with prior experience - one or two per year max), but otherwise, the vast majority of these ladies all apply and get into a group of maybe a dozen unis - no prizes for guessing which ones.

You also have to consider the difference between the psychology of a male athlete and a female athlete - it certainly isn't just lacrosse that sees a number of female participants stop for good the minute they leave school. Could this be overcome by uni ladies' teams recruiting more actively? Perhaps. Whilst it seems the norm in the men's game for uni teams to try to find incoming freshers with experience prior to fresher's week on this forum, I have yet to see a women's UNI team attempt the same - is this forum as widely known in the women's game as it is in men's? I think schools lacrosse needs to be better publicised (Is there a schools league? Do they have a league website, like SEMLA? How do i find out the results from this league? How do I discover which schools participate? How can my women's captain attend any of these games to get a look at any current upper sixth girls with a view to recruiting them?) and the university game needs to be better publicised to the schools too: the BUCS website does nothing to advertise the game (no match reports) as it appears to be aimed solely at those ALREADY involved.

In the long term however, the cure is the same for women's as it is with men's - Junior teams. Invest in youth. At junior level the women's game, even more than the men's, would benefit massively from a switch to summer months. Keep the senior players free to coach and ref, and provide exercise in the sunshine for juniors. What parent isn't at least going to CONSIDER that?
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Re: How can we grow Women's Lacrosse?

Postby chippie Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:32 pm

Tree13 wrote:Can only speak from a southern perspective, but from what I've seen ladies coming to uni with prior playing experience all have one thing in common - they went to fee-paying schools. As a result of this, they tend to gravitate towards certain universities.......

Does it not follow then that the VAST majority of experienced female freshers will end up at a handful of universities, leading to the situation alluded to by a previous poster - so many experienced players at certain individual unis that the standard required to get on the team is markedly higher, leading to the loss of many experienced, if not necessarily "elite" players?


in a way yes....but as mentioned before there is a limit to how many players each institution can have....if your uni will only let you have 1 team, due to funds, there is not much else you can do!!
flip that around...thats one of the reasons mens lacrosse gets a lot of football/rugby players, because they cannot get on those teams and nowhere for them to play

Tree13 wrote:If this is the case, the thorny question becomes "how do we convince students from fee-paying schools (ie with lacrosse experience) to attend unis that are outside of the top tier, academically speaking, in order to continue their lacrosse when they might not otherwise do so?"


your prob cant....our system is based mainly academics....and if your lucky you get to play the sport you want....very few of these girls look outside the top uni's and why should they.....however this year is interesting, i know a lot of girls who didnt make their grades for where they wanted to go and are at lower level lacrosse uni's....will be interesting to see if they play uni lacrosse

Tree13 wrote:is this forum as widely known in the women's game as it is in men's?

no

Tree13 wrote:I think schools lacrosse needs to be better publicised (Is there a schools league? Do they have a league website, like SEMLA? How do i find out the results from this league? How do I discover which schools participate? How can my women's captain attend any of these games to get a look at any current upper sixth girls with a view to recruiting them?) and the university game needs to be better publicised to the schools too: the BUCS website does nothing to advertise the game (no match reports) as it appears to be aimed solely at those ALREADY involved.


no league...not many schools sports are played in a league system....you get your cup comps but its mainly an annual calender of who you play....
schools do usually put their fixture lists up so can find it then (but always better to contact first rather than turning up speaking to young girls)....
and their are the tournaments....local/regional/national....at national schools there were 4 unis there speaking to players (and yes it was the 4 top ones)

Tree13 wrote:In the long term however, the cure is the same for women's as it is with men's - Junior teams. Invest in youth.


spot on!
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