When you watch certain players play lacrosse it is easy to recognize the influence that other sports have on their lacrosse game.
Watch Drew Westervelt play you see his background in playing high-level basketball come through in his lacrosse game. How he moves on the floor, how he positions his body. I think guys like Ned Crotty and Mike Manley were able to adapt and make the transition to indoor lacrosse so seamlessly through their background playing high-level hockey. The Gait brothers were high-level rugby players -- can you picture those two on the Rugby pitch? Their body control and ability to handle contact likely came from that experience in rugby. Ask Dan Dawson where he learned his patented "swim" move and he will tell you it was from his high school days playing defensive end.
So what does this tell us? It is important to play a variety of sports when you are young to develop coordination and your overall athletic foundation. This leads us to another prevalent question in sport, when should athletes specialize? I do believe in the Long Term Athletic Development Program, which recommends athletes start to specialize 12-18 years of age, presumably when their athletic foundation has been established. At that point, you need to devote more time to your respective sport. Makes sense to me. It is a lot like academics. Study and learn a wide variety of subjects, then eventually specialize to an area that you are strong in and have a passion for.
This process it validated by so many examples. It is cool to hear some of sports great athletes credit lacrosse as being a great cross-training sport for their primary sport, and instrumental in their development as an athlete. Athletes like Jim Brown, Wayne Gretzky and Joe Nieuwendyk were all high-level lacrosse players. I know many young athletes (and parents) feel that more lacrosse is better. More camps, private lessons, summer teams, etc., etc. I do think there is some value in those things to a point, but there are things that you learn in other sports that you just can't simulate in a lacrosse practice. That is the beauty of lacrosse, it requires you to be a well-rounded athlete. I would place guys like Paul Rabil and Max Seibald among the top overall athletes in sport. They just happen to play lacrosse.