Should Helmets Be Required for Girls Lacrosse?

James F. Humphreys is a former two time chair of the Brain Injury Association of American (BIAA) and counsel to the West Virginia Brain Injury Association, Inc. (WVBIA). James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. represents people who have suffered brain injuries as a result of the negligence of others. We believe that parents should know about the risks of brain injury and how those risks can be reduced. In this article, we discuss the use of helmets in girls lacrosse, one of the fastest growing sports in America.

Hard shelled helmets have been required for years in boys lacrosse, but there is an ongoing debate as to whether girls who play that sport should be required to wear helmets too. On one side of the debate are those who say that helmets will prevent head injuries, and that as female athletes become bigger, stronger and faster, more protection is required. On the other side of the debate are those who say that requiring female athletes to wear helmets will encourage a more aggressive style of play that will actually result in more injuries. This is known as "risk compensation" or the "gladiator effect." Instead of requiring helmet usage, these people urge better training for coaches and referees as a way to reduce injuries.

Girls who play lacrosse are currently required to wear mouth guards and eye protection. Many athletes also wear soft foam headbands known as "halos." Body contact is not intended to be a significant part of girl's lacrosse, but blows to the head frequently occur from reinforced sticks or hard balls that may travel at 60 miles an hour.

In 2015, U.S. Lacrosse, the governing body, and the National Federation of State High School Associations adopted standards for headgear for players who want to wear helmets. Also in 2015, Florida became the first state to require female players to wear helmets, effective 2018. Apart from the concern that helmets will encourage more aggressive play, critics complain that the cost of helmets, roughly $140 per helmet, will discourage schools from starting new programs.

Two companies, Hummingbird Sports of Holmdel, New Jersey, and Cascade, the leading manufacturer of helmets for boys lacrosse, currently offer helmets meeting the new standard, which calls for a "malleable" helmet soft enough not to hurt players who are not wearing headgear. The Cascade LX combines a helmet with eye protection in the form of an integrated face mask. It will be interesting to see what effect these helmets will have on injury rates among female athletes.

If you or a loved one have suffered a head injury as result of the negligence of another, contact James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. at 304-881-0652 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll free) for a free initial consultation. You may also contact us at our website, www.jfhumphreys.com.


According to a US Lacrosse study, the number of girls lacrosse teams increased nationwide by 28.7% between 2011 and 2016. Wells Dusenbury, "FHSSA helmet rule reheats girls lacrosse safety debate," http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/highschool/fl-sp-hs-florida-lacrosse-helmets... July 3, 2017.

"While Florida is the only state to go so far as to require helmets, ... this isn't the first time heads have butted over girls' headgear. In 1986, Massachusetts required high school players to wear ice hockey helmets during games. The state reversed its decision years later after finding the use of helmets led to more combative play."Id.

ASTM International Standard F3137.