Go ahead -- play all types of sports

The Baltimore Sun

Straight Shooters answers your youth lacrosse questions with the help of US Lacrosse experts. This week's "Straight Shooter" is Lindsey Biles of Annapolis. Biles was an All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist during her college career at Princeton, as well as a member of the 2006-07 U.S. women's national team. Biles also works as a sideline analyst for ESPNU.

Q: I just started playing lacrosse last year. A lot of my friends are playing lacrosse in the fall and winter, plus regular season (spring), plus tournaments over the summer. I'm a soccer and basketball player, too, and I don't want to give that up, but I love lacrosse. I've heard that some coaches won't let you play a winter sport once you are on the varsity team. I play different sports year-round. Can I keep playing all of these sports in high school in addition to lacrosse?

Jessica Locks (14), Bowie

A: It is a personal choice that can only be made by you, but if you want to continue to play other sports, of course you can and should! Lacrosse was always my favorite sport, but I also played soccer in high school. Most of my friends, who went on to be phenomenal lacrosse players, played a different sport each season as well. All sports give you universal skills -- coordination, game sense, understanding of basic strategy, competitive spirit -- that will help you become a better athlete and will benefit you in whatever activity you endeavor, lacrosse included.

I think playing a lot of different sports growing up was to my advantage. Soccer helped me develop quick feet, which I translated into dodging and quickness on the lacrosse field. Basketball taught me defensive positioning and playmaking, which also directly translated into lacrosse. Furthermore, I learned a lot from each coach and the players on each team.

If it is your goal to play lacrosse at a high level, as with any sport, you need to practice a lot and year-round. But you can do that on your own time and through weekend and summer clinics, camps and tournaments. Most varsity coaches appreciate multisport athletes, because they recognize the value of dedication to year-round conditioning and competition.

Since basketball tournaments might overlap lacrosse tryouts, you should talk to your coaches. If you explain your competitive drive and the advantage that playing basketball brings to your lacrosse game, I'm sure the lacrosse coach will be willing to work with you and will respect your honesty and maturity. I love that lacrosse has grown in such a way that there are more opportunities to play, but you don't have to give up the other sports you enjoy. Sports are about competition and fun, so play those that make you happy. The more sports you try, the more well-rounded an athlete you'll become.

Straight Shooters runs every Sunday in The Sun and on baltimoresun.com. E-mail your youth lacrosse questions to sports@baltsun.com and include a phone number for e-mail verification. The series can also be found on Lacrosse Magazine's Web site at www.laxmagazine.com. US Lacrosse, headquartered in Baltimore, is the national governing body of men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more about playing, coaching and officiating lacrosse at www.uslacrosse.org.

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