The Undeniable Link: Why Hockey Players Should Play Lacrosse

Updated Tuesday January 10, 2017 by Gloucester Minor Lacrosse Association.

Anyone serious about hockey should be playing lacrosse.

From Gretzky to Tavares, Shanahan to Stamkos, Canadian-born NHLers recommend playing lacrosse in the summer to improve hockey skills.

Take their word for it:

"It's lacrosse that helped teach me to spin off checks, take shots and protect the puck under pressure. My stick skills, the way to read the play quickly comes from lacrosse. The hand-eye coordination, is just one of the little things that helps you in hockey."
– John Tavares
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. All the good hockey players seemed to play lacrosse in those days and everyone 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."
– Wayne Gretzky

Both hockey and lacrosse are high tempo, physical team sports that have similar elements to the game. Both sports utilize 5 players and a goalie, three periods and a strategy of developing odd-man situations to create scoring opportunities.  Hockey players excel in Lacrosse, and, in turn, they become markedly better hockey players.

Comparatively, lacrosse is a much less expensive sport than hockey and uses much of the same protective upper body equipment.  Hockey players benefit from lacrosse by developing:

  • 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
  • Increased 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
  • The use of both hands

The Undeniable Link

Want to know more? Check out this article highlighting the impact that lacrosse has had on some current NHL players.

Famous hockey players who benefited from playing lacrosse

Not only did the “Great One” play lacrosse in hockey’s off-season, but there is also a long list of NHL players who have polished their hand-eye coordination and physical endurance by playing lacrosse in the summer:

  • Wayne Gretzky
  • Bobby Orr
  • Gordie Howe
  • Sam Gagne
  • Mike Gartner
  • Doug Gilmour
  • Pail Kariya
  • John MacLean
  • Steve Larmer
  • Joe Nieuwendyk
  • Jonathan Toews
  • John Tavares
  • Steve Stamkos
  • Dave Andreychuk
  • Paul Coffey
  • Adam Oates
  • Brian Bellows
  • Mike Ridley
  • Gary Roberts
  • Cliff Ronning
  • Joe Sakic
  • Brendan Shanahan
  • Kyle Turris
  • Sean Monahan
  • Cody Ceci
  • the list keeps going......

One more reason - it's FUN!

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