Picking a sport? Take a seat, sit back, Re-LAX!

Struggling to decide what sport you’re playing this spring? We’ll help you figure out if lacrosse is right for you.

Peter Gregory, Writer

Darien Lacrosse logo

Lacrosse is one of the staple sports of Darien and for good reason. For decades it has been one of the most popular sports of the town, with one of the most robust youth programs in the country and many top players at the D-1 level coming from Darien. But this begs the question: How do you know if it’s the right sport for you? Well, this article will help you answer that.

How to get into lacrosse?

So, you want to break into lacrosse? Well, rest assured, its not impossible. Of course, you’re not going to just be able to pick up a stick and make A. You’re going to have to put in the work. One of the main things you’ll need to work on is catching and throwing, which thankfully only requires a stick, a ball, a wall, and a lot of time.  If you want more involved practices, there are many clinics offered at places like Chelsea Piers, Sono Field House, or private practices, all of  which are great ways to sharpen your skills. Another key part of improving is just playing on a team a lot. Trying out for a lot of teams, playing house/box leagues, and making sure you get on the field as much as possible is all going to make you a better player and help your chances of enjoying lacrosse. If you put the hours in, really practice and dedicate yourself to improving, you will make good teams and feel more comfortable in the more competitive environments.

Why people like it

Wilton defense closely guards Darien (Scott Mullin )

There are plenty of reasons people love lacrosse. For many, their answer is just that it’s fun to watch and play, and I can’t say I disagree. It’s a fast paced game that is great to watch as a spectator, and even more exciting to play, with every moment being crucial in winning. It is a sport focused on split second decisions and the moment to moment plays determining whether you win or not. There typically isn’t much waiting in Lacrosse —unless you are an attack player and the ball is on defense— something can always be done, even if you don’t have the ball. Additionally, soccer, hockey and basketball all have similar rules and setups, so understanding lacrosse is very easy even for those unfamiliar with the sport.


However, just because it is easy to understand on a surface level does not mean it lacks depth. There is always something to learn, fundamentals to perfect and techniques to employ. One major reason lacrosse is so exciting is because it requires aggressive play. Chasing ground balls, walling out offense, and sprinting on a breakaway can’t be done if there’s no urgency.

And with that urgency, players are going to have to be fast. Lacrosse is one of the most physically intensive competitive sports, where athletes are required to sprint up and down the field for hours. This is amazing for cardiovascular health, as intense running for long periods of time gets blood pumping and continuing to do this on a frequent basis will lower your resting heart rate, burn hundreds of calories, and greatly improve your endurance.

Darien’s goalie swiftly avoiding pressure from a Wilton midfielder (Mark Maybell)


According to HealthFitnessRevolution, as “A lacrosse game typically lasts one to two hours, allowing players to burn hundreds of calories per game. Continuously burning off excess calories is one of the best ways for players to either lose excess weight or keep their present weight under control.” (HFR). Overall, playing Lacrosse is one of the best sports for your physical health. 

Lacrosse is not just a skills showcase for players, for many it’s a community and family. I spoke with sophomore DHS midfielder Ryan Dahlquist, who said the reason he has continued playing to this day is because of “The team. I like being a part of a team with a lot of good guys”. Like I said before, there is an aggressive spirit everyone playing lacrosse has, but this doesn’t just apply on the field. It’s a passion for the sport that many can share and bond over. Lifelong friendships and memories are forged in sports, and lacrosse is no different. 


Firstly, Darien is competitive. Like, very competitive. Not just against rival teams and towns, but the competition between players is cutthroat. With tryouts often hosting over 60 players trying to make the team of around 20-30 players, a sentiment of lacrosse needing to be your entire life is embedded into the consciousness of many young players. When I asked if there has ever been an issue of competition within the team, Dahlquist said that because Darien’s youth program for lacrosse is one of the best in the country, “Off-season everyone is playing as much as they can. If you want to play up with the varsity guys you really have to work for it.” 

Darien V. Stamford, a very high stakes situation (K.I. Goldberg)

It is common for kids to start as young as 5 and play for several travel teams up until high school, so trying to break into it slightly after that can discourage many from even attempting to make the team. Of course, it is not impossible to start late and excel, however overall the pre-established ethos of Darien and lacrosse can be incredibly discouraging to many newcomers. According to Lowlax, one of the major struggles in lacrosse that they cited was that “There is also pressure to play “better” competition, and not just in a league with “a couple town teams”. A town league is fine for beginners, but once your kid hits the 4th grade, it’s time for travel lacrosse! We need to travel to play the other best kids out there, right? The peer pressure of today says yes, you absolutely need to do that.”. Again, it seems like for many to succeed, you are required to start at a competitive level at a young age, which is a lot to ask at such a young age. 

Another important aspect of needing Lacrosse to be a focus of your life to excel is the time commitment. When asked about the biggest issue he has with playing, Dahlquist cited how much of a time commitment it is. He explained that “It’s the off-season right now, and I have practice 6 days a week. During the season I’m practicing for 2 hours every day. So it’s pretty hard to balance school with practice.” Like many, he’s fine with the heavy practice schedule, but it was just a hurdle he had to overcome when working out his schedule. Speaking from personal experience, I have a pretty hefty workload for school each night, so I’d definitely have a hard time trying to add something this demanding into my schedule. This shouldn’t deter anyone from trying to pick up lacrosse, but if you do just know it’s a massive commitment, and isn’t just going to be something you can hop into easily. 


Darien Boys Lacrosse team after winning the championship game against New Canaan in 2014 (Mark Conrad )

So, is lacrosse right for you? Even after reading everything from either side your choice just comes down to preference. There are reasons I like lacrosse that many cite as reasons they hate it, and vice versa, so it just depends on who you are. If you are interested, you can find more information about the spring program on the Darien Lax website.  In anything there are reasons to love something and reasons to hate it, but no matter what choice you make I hope I helped it just a little. For information on how playing sports in your high school career affects your college applications process, I highly recommend you look at Connor Fagan’s article on that very subject.