Lacrosse the Country: The Rising Popularity of Lacrosse in Tennessee with Matt Anderson, M.D.

Originally published in the Williamson Herald

A new sports phenomenon is taking the Southeast by storm. 

Whether you’re a high school athlete looking to hone your skills in a new way or just a sports fan looking for your new favorite team, lacrosse might be for you. Although the sport is common in the Northeast, lacrosse is quickly gaining popularity in other parts of the country, particularly the Southeast.

With a unique perspective as both a collegiate athlete and a team physician, Matt Anderson, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon at Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee, is excited to see the sport expand in Tennessee. 

“I grew up playing in San Diego, but the sport wasn’t hugely popular there at the time,” said Dr. Anderson. “It’s great to see how far it’s come and the momentum behind it.”

After a successful career as a lacrosse player for Duke University, Dr. Anderson went on to complete a fellowship in sports medicine at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado, where he served as a team physician for the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). 

“Even though I’m now watching from the sidelines, remaining connected to the sport of lacrosse through team medical coverage brings me great joy and fulfillment,” said Dr. Anderson. “I have always appreciated the physicality of the sport, as well as the strategy of the game and the amount of endurance required.”

As the sport grows, so too does the ability of the players at the highest level as many athletes are choosing to play lacrosse over other more established sports. In fact, the sport was recently approved for the 2028 Olympic Games for the first time in decades. 

While the sport has been growing internationally, lacrosse is also expanding at the high school level. The versatility of the sport has made it so popular that the TSSAA recently voted to sanction lacrosse for the 2024-2025 school year. 

“We’re already seeing more high school lacrosse players in the clinic,” said Dr. Anderson. “Being that lacrosse is a contact sport, there is an increased risk for injury.”

Some of the more common injuries Dr. Anderson and the providers at Bone and Joint Institute see in lacrosse players include muscular strains, which can result from running, cutting and pivoting during play. Often, these conditions can be treated with conservative management treatment methods such as rest, physical therapy, stretching, deep tissue massages and even shock wave therapy. 

However, more serious injuries such as ACL injuries, meniscus tears, clavicle fractures, shoulder dislocations and wrist fractures can also occur and should be examined further by a medical provider.

To reduce the risk of injury, Dr. Anderson stresses the importance of learning to hit using your hands, body and shoulders rather than your head. Maintaining your strength year-round with consistent conditioning can also help you avoid common muscle strains.

Additionally, athletes who participate in multiple sports as opposed to focusing on one do not experience as much burnout and are able to learn new skills. Soccer, basketball, hockey and football all teach skills that can be beneficial to lacrosse players. 

“I encourage athletes to play as many sports as they can or want to,” said Dr. Anderson. “Studies show that early sport specialization does not necessarily lead to long-term success.” 

With the increasing number of resources in the sport, it’s never too early to start playing. Williamson County offers multiple youth lacrosse leagues and new club teams are forming constantly around Tennessee. 

“The earlier you can get a stick in your hand, the better,” said Dr. Anderson. “Working on stick skills like cradling and shooting can promote hand-eye coordination in children as young as three or four years old.”

Although lacrosse is an exciting and trending sport in the south, it’s important to always use caution and wear proper protective equipment including a helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads and gloves. 

“Overall, lacrosse is a fairly safe and rewarding sport, and I’m excited to see it grow in Tennessee,” said Dr. Anderson. “However, if you do experience injury, the providers at Bone and Joint Institute are here to help. Do not hesitate to come see us.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Anderson, call 615-791-2630 or visit