The days of hand-me-downs are over. The risk of wearing a helmet, gloves, shoulder pads (etc) that do not fit well is too great to warrant the potential savings. As more people are increasing their knowledge and awareness about concussions, we have come to recognize that a poor fitting helmet may not only result in facial, head and neck damage in response to a bad hit, but it may also increase the risk of concussion either by impact or by the rotation of the head.

The Risks of Poor Equipment 

In fact, we know that there is no helmet that can completely prevent a concussion as the jolt alone to the body may shake the head causing a concussion. But a poorly fitting or old helmet can conceivably increase risk of injury.

Similar arguments can be made for protective eye wear in the girls’ sports like lacrosse. Poorly fitting eye wear may also increase risk for injury to the eye as the apparatus may move significantly as a result of contact. So, protection to the face and head are enhanced by safe and fitting equipment. And while there are many different types of mouth guards, finding one that fits and consistently “wearing it,” really does protect our kids’ teeth. Often, however, we see kids cut their mouth guards or find ways to not wear them, either in games or practices. These conveniences and or short-cuts can have negative consequences.

Steps to Avoid Injuries

Injury prevention is enhanced by wearing proper gloves, arm pads, shoulder pads, and even shoes. A girl or boy lacrosse or hockey player who wears over-sized shoes is vulnerable to tripping and or poor footing that can cause injury in addition to the calluses and blisters that may occurs. A young boy who has inherited the oversized shoulder pads of his older brother may not be able to move was as well on the field and also become vulnerable to shoulder injuries.

Take the Time to Review

While many of these suggestions are common sense, it is important that parents take the time before the beginning of each season and make sure that their child’s equipment fits. Given how quickly kids can grow and how little time we often have to even get our kids to practice on time, it is easy to see how some of these changes in our children’s bodies may go unnoticed.

We encourage families to take the time to review their equipment status and take the time to make sure that everything fits, before the season starts. We can’t always prevent injuries, but there are common sense steps we can take to reduce them, keeping our kids engaged in their sport throughout the season.


This article was adapted by Dr. Ginsburg’s original posting on the US Lacrosse website.

Dr. Richard Ginsburg
Dr. Richard D. Ginsburg is a clinical psychologist and sport psychology consultant. He is co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital PACES Institute of Sport Psychology and is an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ginsburg also serves as staff psychologist in the Newton Wellesley Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department and is the director of Behavioral Health for the Boston Red Sox. Dr. Ginsburg offers a broad range of clinical services to children, adolescents and adults and conducts youth and professional sport research. He is author of the book, Whose Game Is It, Anyway, A guide to helping your child get the most from sports, organized by age and stage and has served as a sport psychology consultant for a variety of professional and college-level sports teams, including lacrosse, soccer, water polo and ice hockey at Harvard University. He is a member of the US Lacrosse Safety and Science Committee and provides talks and consultations nationally to youth, high school, and collegiate athletic programs. Dr. Ginsburg played lacrosse and soccer at Kenyon College, where he won all-conference and all-Midwest honors. He is also a former independent school teacher and coach. He lives with his wife, Teri, and their two children in Newton, Massachusetts.