Lacrosse is a fast and complex sport that can be hard to track. This site was made to help you quickly learn the basics so you can keep up with the game you’re watching. This site is split into three sections to help you learn lacrosse today. Those three sections are the setup of the game, penalties, and the differences between Men’s and Women’s lacrosse.
The Game of Lacrosse and How to Start
Lacrosse is played on a 110 yard by 60 yard field. Each team has 10 players on the field. There are 3 attackers, 3 midfielders, 3 defenders, and a goalie. Defense-men can easily be recognized by their positions near their team goalies and by their longer sticks.
The game starts with a face-off between two midfielders. The other midfielders must start away from the face-off circle. Offensive and defensive players set up on their respective sides of the field. They cannot leave their starting box until someone gains possession of the ball. Teams can only have up to 6 players on each side of the field (excluding the goalie).
The objective of the game is to score more points than your opponent before time runs out. The game clock is a running clock unless the at timeout is called. Each team gets two timeouts for the whole game. If the ball goes out of bounds, possession is given to the team that didn’t touch the ball last. The exception to this rule is on shots that go out of bounds. On shots that go out of bounds, the ball is awarded to the team that is closest to the out of bounds line where the ball crossed.
There are two other important parts of the field to remember. The first is the goal crease. The goal crease is the circle around the goal. Attackers are not allowed inside the goal crease.
The other part of the field to pay attention to is the substitution box. Each team has a substitution box on their side of the field, next to their bench. Players can substitute on the fly. However, a player cannot leave the substitution box until a player comes off the field. The substitution box is also used for penalties, as a penalty box.
There are a lot of penalties in lacrosse, and a lot of them have different severity. There are two ways to identify a penalty. The first is a referee’s arm signal and whistle. The second is a yellow flag. Penalties with a flag are more severe and indicate an ensuing player advantage. When a flag is thrown, play continues until possession is lost, a goal is scored, or there is another stoppage in play.
During face-offs there is one important penalty. If someone jumps early one a face-off, or wins the face-off but cannot give up possession of the ball, that is considered an illegal procedure. On a face off violation, the ball is awarded to the non violating team.
Once teams have possession of the ball, they are on the clock. The team with possession has 20 seconds to clear the ball from their defensive half. If they successfully clear their defensive half, they will be on a one minute shot clock. If the team cannot clear the ball past their defensive half after 20 seconds or put a shot on goal inside one minute, they receive a game clock violation. A game clock violation is an automatic turnover of possession.
Offside is simply the violation of the number of players on the field. This applies to the 10 player rule for the full field, or the 6 player rule on each half of the field. If more than 10 players are on the field for a team, or a team has 7 players on one side of the field, that is an offside penalty, and an automatic turnover of possession.
There are in general, two common defensive penalties. Those penalties are slashing and cross checking. Cross checking is using the stick to check an opposing player. To clarify this, you’re allowed to use the stick to check the hands, elbows, and opponents stick as long as they have possession of the ball. However, the back and side of a player are illegal to check. The second common penalty is slashing. Slashing is swinging the stick beyond 90 degrees at a player with possession of the ball.
Over and back is similar to the over and back penalty in basketball. When a team possesses the ball in the offensive zone, and loses possession over the midfield line. It is possible however for the defense of the attacking team to bat the ball back to the offensive side in order to avoid taking a penalty.
When a player takes a penalty, they take a knee in the substitute box. That players team is now down a player for the rest of the penalty or until a goal is scored. The only exception to this is if the penalty is a non-releasable penalty. Penalties typically range from 1 minute to 3 minutes depending on the severity of the penalty.
Men’s or Women’s Lacrosse?
There are a few key differences between Men’s and Women’s lacrosse.
The number one difference between women’s and men’s lacrosse is the checking rule. Women’s lacrosse is a non-contact sport, and men’s lacrosse is a full contact sport. Women’s lacrosse includes penalties for checking and even being in the attackers shooting lane. A shooting lane is essentially a direct path between the player with possession of the ball and the goal.
Another important difference is the sticks. There are different regulations for how men’s and women’s sticks can be strung. Men’s lacrosse uses a different mesh for a pocket than women’s sticks. Also, Men’s lacrosse allows D-Poles to be used. A standard lacrosse stick for men’s or women’s lacrosse is about 40 inches tall. However, defenders in men’s lacrosse are allowed to use sticks up to 72 inches tall.
One last difference between men’s and women’s lacrosse is roster size. Men’s lacrosse has 10 players on the field, while women’s lacrosse has 12.
If you’re looking for more specific info, check out this like to the official NCAA Lacrosse Rulebook!