From Coast to Coast: Where Is Lacrosse Most Popular ?

December 17, 2023

Find out Where Is Lacrosse Most Popular in the United States and why these locations are dominating the sport

Have you ever caught yourself pondering the places where is Lacrosse most popular? It’s a question I’ve turned over in my mind more than once, leading me down a fascinating path to uncover the sport’s tenacious hold on certain corners of our world.

Together, let’s journey into America’s lacrosse hotbeds and even venture beyond, delving into how this dynamic sport has captivated everyone from spirited high school teams to the pros who dazzle us with their skill.

So lace up your cleats and grab your stick, we’re about to get an insider look at where is lacrosse most popular! Then don’t hesitate to get ready for The World Lacrosse 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Lacrosse is hugely popular in the northeastern and mid – Atlantic regions of the United States, especially in states like Maryland, New York, and Virginia. These areas are known for their vibrant lacrosse cultures and have a long tradition of excellence in the sport.
  • The sport has been expanding its reach into non – traditional areas such as California, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia. This growth is evident from an increase in high school athletes participating in lacrosse across these states.
  • Internationally, Canada holds a strong passion for lacrosse as it’s recognized as the national summer sport. Additionally, new communities are forming worldwide with increasing interest seen in Europe and Asia.
  • Collegiate lacrosse plays a critical role in promoting the game through scholarships and NCAA involvement which helps to elevate its status among competitive sports.
  • Professional leagues like Major League Lacrosse (MLL), Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), and National Lacrosse League (NLL) have contributed to raising lacrosse’s profile further by expanding viewership beyond traditional hotspots.
Where Is Lacrosse Most Popular
Source: Pexels

The Origins of Lacrosse

For the question “Where is Lacrosse most popular?”, Lacrosse has a rich history with its origins dating back to Native American communities. It has evolved into a widely popular sport, with deep cultural roots and significance.

Historical roots and evolution

I trace the lineage of lacrosse to the Haudenosaunee people, whose profound respect for the game reflects its spiritual significance. They often refer to it as the Creator’s game, a testament to how deep it runs in their culture.

This sport, born from Native American traditions near Lake Ontario and across New York State borders, has transformed through time into a global phenomenon.

Its journey from sacred ritual to competitive athleticism began with European settlers adopting and adapting lacrosse during the 19th century. Canada embraced it wholeheartedly, declaring lacrosse its national sport in 1859.

Across the border, John Flannery brought his love for this fast-paced game to New York when he founded the U.S. National Amateur Lacrosse Association in 1879—a pivotal move that fostered an enduring lacrosse community within schools and beyond.

The legacy continues today with stars like Lyle Thompson illuminating both fields and heritage on professional stages such as Major League Lacrosse (MLL) and the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL).

Lacrosse Hotspots in the United States

Maryland, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic states are known as the lacrosse heartlands with a rich tradition and talent pool. To find out more about lacrosse hotspots in the United States, keep reading!

Maryland: The Lacrosse Heartland

As a die-hard lacrosse fan, I’ve always been drawn to Maryland’s vibrant scene. The place pulses with energy as young players grip their sticks on school fields and pros face off in packed stadiums.

It’s no wonder they call this state the world’s lacrosse capital! High school athletes dream of playing for powerhouses like Johns Hopkins, where the history of the game comes alive on every corner.

I find myself mesmerized by local matches, witnessing future college stars command the field with finesse and agility. Here, children grow up idolizing professional lacrosse players from teams like the Chesapeake Bayhawks—household names that embody skill and dedication.

This isn’t just a pastime, it’s a way of life where every pass, shot, and check reflects Maryland’s deep-rooted love for lacrosse.

Where is lacrosse most popular
Source: Pexels

New York: Tradition and Talent

I’m always amazed by New York’s rich lacrosse heritage, where the tradition runs deep and talent thrives. This state boasts some of the highest numbers of high school players engaged in the sport; it doesn’t surprise me that they consistently produce top-tier college teams as well.

It feels like every corner from Long Island to upstate breathes lacrosse, reflecting its ingrained place in local culture and history.

In my visits to games, I can’t help but notice how names like Lyle Thompson resonate with fans and young players alike. His skillful play and connection to the Onondaga Nation is a powerful testament to lacrosse’s Native American origins.

Seeing him on the field, dominating for teams like the New York Lizards, showcases not just an individual athlete’s prowess but also a larger story of excellence fostered here in New York’s fertile grounds for lacrosse.

Mid-Atlantic and New England States

  • Lacrosse thrives in the Mid-Atlantic and New England States, holding its own as a premier sport. Passionate players and fans mark these regions as key areas where the game’s legacy continues strong.
  • Maryland stands out as the “lacrosse capital of the world.” The state boasts a deeply ingrained lacrosse culture with teams that often dominate on both high school and college levels.
  • In Pennsylvania, lacrosse is more than just a game; it’s part of the educational fabric. Many schools have thriving programs that nurture skilled lacrosse players year after year.
  • Virginia showcases impressive lacrosse talent, especially at the high school and college ranks. The sport flourishes here, driven by dedicated coaching and community support.
  • Connecticut’s commitment to lacrosse is evident in its competitive high school leagues and strong college programs. The state continually contributes top-tier players to the sport.
  • Lacrosse teams in New Jersey pride themselves on their rigorous training and strategic gameplay. This has led to a robust culture that fuels successful high school and collegiate outcomes.
  • Massachusetts’ love for lacrosse rivals its passion for other historic sports like basketball or baseball.High schools and colleges across the state are hotbeds for emerging talent.


Lacrosse Growth in Non-Traditional Regions

From the West Coast surge in California to the Midwest expansion in states like Illinois and Ohio, lacrosse is making its mark in non-traditional regions. Additionally, southern states like North Carolina and Virginia are seeing a rise in lacrosse popularity.

California: The West Coast Surge

California has experienced a significant surge in the popularity of lacrosse, with a remarkable increase in the number of high school athletes taking up the sport. In 2019, California ranked as the second most popular state for lacrosse, boasting over 20,000 high school athletes participating in the game.

This growth illustrates the increasing relevance and appeal of lacrosse across non-traditional regions like the West Coast.

The surge in popularity highlights how lacrosse is gaining traction and becoming more widely embraced beyond its traditional strongholds.

The Midwest Expansion: Illinois and Ohio

Illinois and Ohio have witnessed a significant surge in lacrosse participation, reflecting the sport’s growing popularity across non-traditional regions. With notable increases in youth programs and high school teams, both states are embracing lacrosse as a prominent athletic endeavor.

The expansion of lacrosse in Illinois and Ohio showcases the sport’s ability to captivate new communities and flourish beyond its traditional strongholds.

The rising interest in lacrosse is reshaping the sports landscape in these Midwest states, contributing to the overall growth of lacrosse nationwide. This expansion signifies an exciting shift within the broader American sports culture, further solidifying lacrosse as a dynamic and inclusive pursuit for athletes of all ages.

Southern States: North Carolina and Virginia

North Carolina and Virginia have experienced a significant surge in lacrosse participation. The growth of the sport in these non-traditional regions is contributing to the overall expansion of lacrosse at both amateur and professional levels.

These states are emerging as notable hubs for lacrosse development and talent, demonstrating the sport’s ability to captivate communities beyond its historically dominant regions.

In recent years, North Carolina and Virginia have seen a rise in the popularity of lacrosse, marking a shift from the sport’s traditional roots in the Northeast. This trend underscores the increasing diversity of lacrosse hotspots across the United States, reflecting its ability to engage new audiences and create opportunities for players across different regions.

International Lacrosse Landscape

Canada has a deep passion for lacrosse, with the sport being the national summer sport of the country. Additionally, there are emerging lacrosse communities worldwide, including in Europe and Asia, contributing to the global growth of the sport.

Canadian Passion for the Sport

Lacrosse holds a special place in the hearts of Canadians, often dubbed as the country’s national summer sport. With a rich history and thriving community, Canada has long been passionate about lacrosse.

The sport garners high levels of participation among both men and women, drawing attention from notable media outlets and enjoying support at both amateur and professional levels.

The establishment of professional teams in lacrosse further attests to Canada’s fervor for the sport. As a result, it continues to thrive across the nation while maintaining its status as an integral part of Canadian sports culture.

Emerging Lacrosse Communities Worldwide

Lacrosse’s popularity is expanding globally. Across the world, new lacrosse communities are emerging as the sport gains traction. Here are some of the regions witnessing the rise of lacrosse:

  1. Europe: Countries like England and Ireland are experiencing a surge in lacrosse participation, with growing youth programs and increasing interest at the collegiate level.
  2. Asia: In Japan and South Korea, lacrosse is gaining popularity as more players join local teams and competitive leagues, highlighting the sport’s global appeal.
  3. Australia: With an established tradition in other field sports, Australia is seeing a rise in interest in lacrosse, particularly among young athletes seeking new athletic challenges.
  4. Latin America: Countries such as Mexico and Argentina have seen a steady increase in lacrosse enthusiasm, fostering a new generation of players eager to compete on national and international stages.
  5. Africa: Lacrosse is making strides in countries like Kenya and Uganda, where efforts to introduce the sport have sparked growing interest and participation among local communities.

High School Lacrosse Dynamics

States with the most high school players and the impact of youth lacrosse programs will be discussed in this section. The growth and popularity of lacrosse at the high school level has played a significant role in shaping the sport’s future.

Where Is Lacrosse Most Popular in Highschools

High school lacrosse has proliferated across the United States, with certain states showcasing particularly high levels of participation. I’m here to outline where the sport is truly thriving among high school athletes.

Rank State High School Players
1 New York Highest
2 Massachusetts Very High
3 Maryland Very High
4 Illinois Significant
5 California Significant

In my findings, New York leads the pack with the most high school lacrosse players. Following closely are Massachusetts and Maryland, states with deep lacrosse traditions and passionate players. Surprisingly, Illinois and California have also climbed the ranks, illustrating lacrosse’s growing appeal beyond its traditional northeastern roots. The numbers reflect a sport on the rise, finding new footholds in regions once untouched by its influence.

Impact of Youth Lacrosse Programs

The rise of youth lacrosse programs has had a significant impact on the sport’s popularity, particularly in states like Maryland and New York. These programs have contributed to the influx of high school players, with New York schools hosting the highest number of participants as of 2019.

Additionally, lacrosse has seen an impressive 28% growth rate from 2009 to 2014, with approximately 750,000 children engaging in the sport by 2015. The Midwest region, including Illinois and Ohio, has also experienced noteworthy growth in lacrosse participation due to these youth programs.

Furthermore, states such as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have witnessed an increase in the sport’s popularity at high school levels thanks to these initiatives. This positive trend highlights how youth lacrosse programs play a pivotal role in shaping not just local communities but also contributing to overall nationwide engagement with the sport.

Collegiate Lacrosse Influence

Collegiate lacrosse has had a significant influence on the popularity of the sport, with college scholarships and recruitment playing a crucial role in shaping the future of lacrosse.

The NCAA’s involvement has also brought more attention to collegiate lacrosse and helped elevate its status as a competitive and exciting sport.

Scholarships and College Recruitment

Ivy League schools and top lacrosse programs offer athletic scholarships to talented high school players. College recruitment begins as early as sophomore year, with coaches attending tournaments and showcases to scout potential athletes.

NCAA Division 1 teams have the most competitive recruitment processes, with recruiters seeking versatile players proficient in offense, defense, and special teams. Athletes can secure full or partial scholarships based on their skills and potential contribution to the team.

Additionally, academic performance is crucial for securing admission to top-tier lacrosse programs; student-athletes must meet minimum GPA requirements set by both the NCAA and individual colleges.

US Lacrosse also provides resources for aspiring college athletes through its mentorship program. This program pairs high school players with experienced mentors who guide them through the college recruitment process, offering valuable advice on academics, training regimen, and communication with college coaches.

NCAA’s Role in Popularizing Lacrosse

The growth of lacrosse at the collegiate level has been significantly influenced by the NCAA. The number of college offerings for women’s lacrosse has nearly doubled from 256 to 505 teams, showcasing the NCAA’s commitment to promoting and popularizing the sport among female athletes.

Similarly, men’s lacrosse has also expanded with 380 teams now competing at the collegiate level, demonstrating how the NCAA has played a pivotal role in advancing the sport and providing opportunities for young athletes to pursue their passion for lacrosse.

Expanding its reach across various regions, the NCAA’s support and promotion of both men’s and women’s lacrosse have contributed to raising awareness about the sport and attracting more players, thereby popularizing lacrosse as an essential part of college sports programs while elevating its status within professional leagues.

where is lacrosse most popular
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Professional Lacrosse Leagues and Their Reach

Professional lacrosse leagues such as Major League Lacrosse (MLL), Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), and National Lacrosse League (NLL) have expanded their reach to attract fans from all over the country.

The growth of these leagues has contributed to the increasing popularity of lacrosse as a professional sport in the United States.

Major League Lacrosse (MLL)

Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was established in 1998 and is composed of six teams primarily situated in the Northeastern United States. The MLL has played a significant role in promoting lacrosse at the professional level, contributing to the sport’s increasing popularity.

Its recent merger with the Premier Lacrosse League on December 16, 2020, signifies a new chapter for professional lacrosse, offering opportunities for growth and broader reach. Additionally, MLL has been proactive in diversifying its player base by collaborating with organizations such as the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League.

The Major League Lacrosse (MLL), founded in 1998, consists of six teams mainly based in the Northeastern United States. It announced a merger with the Premier Lacrosse League on December 16, 2020.

Premier Lacrosse League (PLL)

Founded by renowned lacrosse player Paul Rabil in 2018, the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) has quickly established itself as a major force in professional lacrosse. With eight teams under its umbrella and a lucrative broadcasting deal with NBC Sports, the PLL offers players higher salaries, health benefits, and even an ownership stake in the company.

Notably drawing attention from media giants such as CNN, Forbes, and The New York Times, the PLL’s increasing relevance and popularity are solidifying its position as a game-changer in the lacrosse world.

National Lacrosse League (NLL)

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) currently boasts thirteen teams, including the Georgia Swarm, Toronto Rock, and Buffalo Bandits. The league has been a significant contributor to the popularity of lacrosse as a professional sport.

With its growing fan base and strategic partnerships, such as the launch of the Premier Lacrosse League by NBC Sports Group and Paul Rabil in 2018, NLL has not only expanded its reach but also fostered enthusiasm for lacrosse across various regions.

Amidst this expansion and collaboration with major sports entities, NLL continues to showcase top-tier talent while cultivating a passionate following among both dedicated fans and those new to the sport.

The Future of Lacrosse

As lacrosse continues to grow in popularity and participation, it has the potential to become a major global sport. To find out more about the future of lacrosse and its impact on the sports world, keep reading!

Trends in Participation and Viewership

Participation in lacrosse has been on the rise, with a 28% growth rate from 2009 to 2014 and approximately 750,000 children engaging in the sport in 2015. This surge is particularly evident at the college level, where more students are joining lacrosse programs.

In addition, new professional leagues such as Major League Lacrosse (MLL), Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), and National Lacrosse League (NLL) have contributed to increased viewership and interest among sports enthusiasts.

The growing popularity of these leagues is attracting diverse audiences, creating an optimistic outlook for lacrosse’s future.

Potential for Lacrosse in Global Sports

As lacrosse continues to see increasing trends in participation and viewership, there is significant potential for the sport to make a mark on the global stage. With its historical origins and growing international presence, lacrosse has the opportunity to become a widely recognized and celebrated sport around the world.

The expansion of teams and competitions in countries like Australia, Canada, England, and the United States signifies a promising future for lacrosse as it gains traction on an international scale.

Moreover, with over 30 nations expected to participate in the 2022 World Lacrosse Championship, it’s clear that this sport is poised for remarkable growth and influence on a global level.


1. Where in the United States is lacrosse very popular?

Lacrosse is extremely popular in cities like Boston, Denver, and Philadelphia where teams like the Boston Cannons, Denver Outlaws, and Philadelphia Wings play. It’s also big at colleges and high schools across the country.

2. Are there professional lacrosse teams outside of the United States?

Yes, Canada loves lacrosse too! Teams like the Calgary Roughnecks show that this sport is a big deal in Canadian cities as well.

3. Do women play lacrosse as much as men?

Women’s lacrosse is growing fast! There are many female teams at different levels including college-lacrosse which draw large crowds just like men’s games.

4. What areas in Virginia are known for playing lacrosse?

In Virginia, places such as Richmond, Norfolk, Alexandria, and Virginia Beach have strong connections to the sport with both local teams and college clubs being active.

5. How does lacrosse compare to sports like water polo or stickball?

While all these sports have their own fans, Lacrose stands out especially amongst sports enthusiasts in regions such as Washington D.C., Arlington VA and other parts of Northeast USA where it has a rich history.

6. Has anyone famous been involved with professional Lacrossse teams?

Yes indeed – Joe Tsai who owns San Diego Seals team once played attackmen position; showing even successful business leaders can have a passion for Lacrossse!


Lacrosse popularity is most prominent in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. The United States puts together five national teams every year to compete internationally. Since 1967, the US has won thirty world championships, showcasing its dominance.

Additionally, lacrosse’s growth in non-traditional areas signifies a sport that continues to expand across all regions of the country.