Primer: lacrosse appears a little confusing at first

On the surface, lacrosse appears a little confusing at first, but it really isn’t.

The nation’s oldest game (begun by native Americans) is a constantly moving game most similar to ice hockey.


There are 10 players to a side, and the object is to shoot the ball in the opponent’s goal.

High school games are 48 minutes long with 12-minute quarters and a 10-minute halftime.

The game begins with a face-off, where the ball is placed between the sticks of two squatting players at the center of the field. The other players must wait until one player has gained possession of the ball before they can release from their positions.

Body checking is permitted if the opponent has the ball or is within five yards of a loose ball. All body contact must occur from the front or side, above the waist and below the shoulders.  The team with the most goals wins.


The field is 110 yards long with goals 15 yards in front of the end line. There is an attack area, a midfield area and a defensive area. The goal is 6 feet high and 6 feet wide, surrounded by a 9-foot radius, which only defensive players can enter.


Crosse: The player’s stick is traditionally made of synthetic material with a shaped net pocket at the end. Attackmen use crosses that are 40-42 inches long and the defenseman’s crosse is 52-72 inches long.

Ball: The ball is made out of solid rubber and can be white, yellow or orange. The ball is eight inches in circumference and weighs 5 ounces.

Helmet: The helmet must be worn by all players, with a face cage comparable to a hockey goalie’s mask. The helmet protects the neck as well as the head.

Gloves: The gloves are thick and are most similar to hockey gloves.

Protective equipment: Each player must wear shoulder pads, arm pads and rib pads. The goalkeeper is required to wear a throat protector and chest protector. A full set of pads costs between $200-$250.

Uniform: Players wear a football-style jersey, shorts and cleats.


Attack: The attackman’s main responsibility is to score goals. Each team has three attackmen on the field.

Midfield:  The midfielders cover the entire field. Their main responsibility is the team’s transitions from defense to offense. There are short stick midfielders (40-42 inches used for attackmen) and long stick midfielders (52-72 inches used for defensemen).

Defense: Defensemen are the last line of defense before the goalie. They play with a long stick, which allows them to slow down the team’s offense.

Goalie: The goalie protects the team’s goal and play with a wider crosse, which is 10-12 inches wide.


Lacrosse penalties are similar to hockey — no tripping, slashing or cross checking with the crosse. Holding, interference and pushing are also fouls. Here are some rules that are more specific to the sport.

Illegal Crosse: If a crosse’s pocket is too deep or any other part of the crosse is altered to gain an advantage. Illegal crosses are removed from play and the goal is disallowed. Using an illegal crosse can result in a 3-minute penalty.

Offsides: Called when a team does not have at least four players on its defensive side of the midfield line or at least three players on its offensive side.

Warding off: When a player in possession of the ball uses his free hand to hold, push or control the direction of a opponent’s stick check.

Screening: When a player moves into a defensive player with the purpose of blocking him from the man he is defending.


Cradling: The coordinated motion of the arms and wrists that keeps the ball secure in the pocket and ready to be passed or shot when running.

Scooping: Picking up a loose ball with the crosse.

On-the-fly substitution: A substitution made during play, similar to hockey line change.

EMO: Extra-man offense, a man advantage that results from a time-serving penalty.

Shooting: The act of throwing the ball with the crosse toward the goal in an attempt to score.


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