Lax Lingo: Why do we call Practice Jerseys “Pinnies”?

Lacrosse terms come from all over the world. Even though it is a Native American sport, the name "la crosse" is French for "crooked stick." But why do coaches and players all use the same terms in practice and games every week? What do they mean?

In today's Lax Lingo we want to talk about why we all call practice jerseys "pinnies."

Pinnies, which some people say/spell "pennies," are the loose mesh sleeveless jerseys every player gets on the first day of practice or when they show up to camp. They usually come in reversible colors- one side dark and one side light. They are used for everything- splitting up offense and defense, warming up before games, and playing scrimmages in the off-season to keep the game jerseys clean.

But where does the word "pinnies" come from? Why do we call them that?

The word "pinny" is short for the British word "pinafore," a term that originally meant "an apron or sleeveless garment" traditionally worn by women over the front of dresses. Because lacrosse was primarily played in the late 19th and early 20th century by the upper-class at boarding schools and colleges in New England and Eastern Canada, the British term stuck, even as the game grew beyond the East Coast. This means that, even though we might be playing lacrosse in places as far away as Florida, Texas, or California, we all carry around this little piece of lacrosse history.

For a lot of people, pinnies are marks of pride as well. They remind us of tournaments we've played in, teams we've joined, games we've won, places we've traveled. If you're like us, you probably have a large (and potentially smelly) pile of jerseys in your equipment bag- all sizes and colors, from places all across the United States, maybe even the world. They remind us where we've been.

youth lacrosse practice jerseys pinniesPinnies are important for making your drills and games run smoothly and will help you keep track of your offensive and defensive players, especially if you are a youth coach. There's no need to make things more confusing for your players by making them try to remember who is on their team during a drill. Your practices should be challenging enough already if you are coaching age-appropriate material for your players.

You can also use one of your pinnies for the classic T-shirt Drill to teach your players to get back to the "Hole" and play defense "from inside out".

For extra motivation, coaches might even have a "special" pinny to use as a simple trophy to recognize and reward particularly hard-working players at practice. The player that puts in the most effort at each practice gets to wear "coach's pinny" at the next practice until a new champ is chosen. Watch how quickly you will notice increased effort out of your players, even though this is a very small token.

Try this out and let us know how it goes for your team!