Lacrosse for Kids in the East Bay

Youth Lacrosse in the East Bay: A Parent’s Guide

Lacrosse is an active team sport with deep indigenous roots and a long history. Organizations across the East Bay are dedicated to developing kids’ skills and enthusiasm for the game. Like soccer, players are always moving around in the game, which makes it engaging and well-suited to a child who is not digging the dugout life of baseball or softball. But how does one get started?

In partnership with Skyline Lacrosse, we’ve assembled some helpful facts and links about youth lacrosse in the East Bay. This post is sponsored.

u10 boys lacrosse players on a field
U10 Boys before game time | Photo: Emily Hill for Skyline Lacrosse

Understanding Lacrosse | Where to Play Lacrosse | Where to Watch a Lacrosse Match | Recreational Lacrosse Leagues | Gearing up for Lacrosse | Spotlight on Skyline Lacrosse

Understanding Lacrosse Basics

Lacrosse teams use netted sticks to maneuver a solid rubber ball across a field to score goals. A goal is counted when the ball fully crosses the opposing goal line between the posts and under the crossbar. Games are divided into four quarters, typically lasting ten to fifteen minutes each, with a halftime break. If a game ends in a tie, sudden-death overtime periods ensue until a team scores.

How do we get started with lacrosse?

Around five years old, or kindergarten, most children can start learning basic skills: throwing and catching with a stick, cradling a ball, and picking up ground balls.

For parents who want to experiment with lacrosse before (or instead of) enrolling in a program, consider purchasing a lacrosse stick and ball set and have some fun with these skills.

A backyard pop-up goal can add to the fun when you provide something to shoot at.

young child learning lacrosse
Photo: Skyline Lacrosse Club

Skyline Lacrosse Club Family-Focused Offerings

Whether your child is a seasoned player or a newcomer, Skyline Lacrosse Club welcomes all Bay Area families, emphasizing its deep connection to Native American lacrosse heritage. The club offers:

  • Financial Assistance: Scholarships available.
  • Skill Development: “Fall ball” clinics for improvement.
  • Seasonal Play: Vibrant spring season from February to May.
  • Tournaments: Two Skyline Lacrosse Club tournaments are hosted annually.
  • Equipment: Loaner equipment is provided to those in need of gear.

Dedicated to educating K-8 athletes, this inclusive club fosters a unique lacrosse experience, emphasizing teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect. Join Skyline in preserving Native American lacrosse heritage on the West Coast.

Where to Play & Watch Lacrosse

For enthusiasts eager to catch a lacrosse match, various venues across the East Bay host games at different levels. Take advantage of some of the many opportunities for players and spectators of youth, high school, college, and professional lacrosse.

Joining a youth lacrosse club

There are clubs across the East Bay that roll up to the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association, so if you don’t see your town listed below, check the governing organization’s website. The youngest age band is U8, for kids who are 7 or 8 by the end of August before the Spring in which they want to play. Generally, Spring is for team-based playing, and Fall brings a more informal group skills and games offering, called Fall Ball.

Check the following local clubs for seasonal registration and information.

These leagues support both boys and girls. Check your local parks department for Lacrosse classes as well.

youth lacrosse, boys under age 12
U12 boys playing lacrosse, Skyline vs. Berkeley | Photo: Caleb Entrekin for Skyline Lacrosse

Other Lacrosse learning opportunities

Fall Ball and Summer Camps are a great way to get an introduction to the sport without the commitment of the full season. Check the registration deadlines at your club, listed above. Practices at the youngest ages focus on basic skills development and games are opportunities to put those skills into play, with no score kept.

Watching the big kids and pros play

From UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium to local high schools like Berkeley High and Piedmont High, spectators can witness the thrill of the game firsthand. As the sport gains momentum, even younger players have opportunities to engage in modified versions of lacrosse, fostering skill development and sportsmanship from an early age.

Watching the game played at different levels may help families get into the sport. Did you know that the 2024 Olympics will include lacrosse for the first time? Woohoo!

  • UC Berkeley teams include Women’s varsity lacrosse, Women’s club, and Men’s club teams that play games at Memorial Stadium in the Spring. Check Stanford and St. Mary’s schedules, too.
  • High school-level indoor lacrosse is played at Berkeley High, Piedmont High, and Bishop O’Dowd.
  • The local lacrosse leagues listed above offer the chance to watch elementary school-aged kids play the game, or at least a version of it.

Younger players follow modified lacrosse rules on a smaller field, with fewer players on the field and less physical contact so they can have fun learning the basic skills.

Essential Lacrosse Gear + Where to Buy It

For young ones figuring out the motions, there are fun swimming pool sets that float and mimic some skills. For backyard skill-building, you might want a goal and full-scale (or mini) lacrosse sticks.

For aspiring lacrosse players, having the right equipment is crucial. Required gear for boys includes a lacrosse stick, a solid rubber ball, a helmet with face guard and chin strap, lacrosse gloves, shoulder and elbow pads, cleats, a mouth guard, and an athletic supporter with a cup. Basic required girl’s lacrosse gear sets include sticks, goggles, mouth guards, and gloves.

girls playing lacrosse
Youth lacrosse | Photo: Skyline Lacrosse

East Bay stores that carry lacrosse gear

For those looking to equip themselves for the game, several East Bay stores offer a variety of lacrosse gear.

  • Sling It! Lacrosse in the Alamo/Danville area is a lacrosse specialty store with knowledgeable staff
  • Play it Again Sports in Concord sells used gear.
  • Sports Basement in Berkeley also has a limited selection of lacrosse items and general-purpose sports gear.
  • Some lacrosse clubs organize gear swaps, allowing players to exchange used equipment.

Thank you to Skyline Lacrosse for sponsoring this Guide to East Bay Lacrosse.

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