The Game of Lacrosse
Lacrosse is played between two teams. The object of the game is to advance the ball into the opposing teams territory and shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals at the end of regulation play is the winner.
The ball is kept in play by being thrown, carried or hit by the stick, rolled or kicked by one or more players in any direction, provided the ball stays in the field of play.
A team is comprised of 10 players; 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 mid-fielders and 3 attackmen. Each team must keep at least 4 players, including goalie, in its defensive half of the field and 3 players in its offensive zone. The 3 mid-fielders are free to roam entire field.
The game has four quarters, plus a halftime. Teams change ends between quarters. Youth games are generally 32 minutes long, with eight-minute quarters; two minute breaks between quarters and a ten-minute halftime. High school games are generally 40-48 minutes long with either 10 or l2 minute quarters and 12 minutes at halftime. Collegiate games are 60 minutes long with 15-minute quarters and a 15-minute halftime. Each team is permitted 3 time-outs, only two in a half of play.
The game starts at the center of the field with a face-off. Face-offs are also used to start each quarter and to resume play after each goal. The ball is placed between sticks of two face-off players at the center of the field. The play starts when the official blows the whistle and face-off players try to control the ball. Wingmen are allowed to participate for control (release) of the ball. All other on-field players must wait until one player has gained possession or the ball has crossed a goal area line.
Players maneuver the ball by passing, running, etc., to gain position which will provide the opportunity for a player to attempt to score a goal, by throwing the ball with their stick, past the goalie, into the goal. The only player allowed to touch the ball with his/her hands is the goalie.
Players attempt to gain control of the ball by scooping or catching it with a stick or by dislodging the ball from opponent's stick by checking. Checking involves poking, slapping or hitting an opponent's stick and gloved hand. Players may also attempt to gain possession of the ball by controlled body checks.
Attacking players may never enter the area immediately around opponent's goal, known as the crease. Nor may a player physically touch the goalie while the goalie is in the crease. Should the goalie gain possession of the ball, opposing players may try and block the clear by standing in the goalie's line of sight and waving sticks. Opposing players may also reach into the crease to try and retrieve loose or ground balls, but may not interfere with the goalie.
Unlike other sports, should the ball go out of bounds after an unsuccessful shot, possession is awarded to the player closest to the ball when and where it went out of bounds.
There is limit on the total number of players each team may carry on its roster. Most teams carry six to nine defensemen, six to nine attackmen, nine to twelve mid-fielders and three goalies. This provides three complete rotations of players (4 for mid-fielders). This is only a general rule of thumb and will vary considerably based on availability of players and coaching philosophy. There can be a maximum of four long sticks on the field at any one time (not including goalie). The remainder must be short sticks.
There will be situations (penalties) where one or both teams will be required to play with less than the full ten-member team. These are typically known as Man Up or Man Down situations and are usually handled with special field formations. Apon issuance of a penalty, which requires one or more players to go to "The Box", substitutes are not permitted to take their place. Teams must play with a reduced number of players until officials release penalized players back onto the field.
The game is played on a rectangular field measuring 110 yards long by 60 yards wide. The field is marked at 55 yards with a centerline and at 30 yards across the centerline with an (X) to indicate face-off zone. (See diagram).
Goals are typically manufactured of steel or aluminum, measuring 6 feet square at the widest opening and converging to a point 7 feet behind the opening. A mesh net is tightly secured to the goal. Each goal sits inside a circle with a radius of 9 feet, called the crease. Each crease is positioned 15 yards from the field's end line and 30 yards from each sideline.
OTHER IMPORTANT AREAS OF THE FIELD INCLUDE:
Goal Area - area inside restraining lines at each end of field.
Defense Clearing Area - area behind two solid lines that run across the field 20 yards in front of the goal.
Wing Areas - indicated by two lines, 20 yards long and 10 yards in front of each sideline.
"The Box" Area - is located directly in front of the officials' table and is used as a holding area for players to wait out their penalties. It is also the access area for substitute players entering and exiting the field.
Equipment & Selection
Crosse - also known as stick.
The Crosse must be between 40 - 42" for attackmen / mid-fielders and 52 - 72" for defensemen. The head is to be 6 1/2 - 10" wide. Goalies head may be 10 - 12" wide. Younger, more inexperienced players, should use shorter sticks. Crosse contains three components:
Shaft - made from a variety of materials; including wood, metal or plastic. Most common is aluminum and its alloys. Aluminum and metal alloy shafts are the most popular for their relative strength and light weight.
The length of the shaft should grow with a player's size, development and skills. When selecting a shaft, the most important point to consider is how it feels in a player's hands. Younger, more inexperienced players, need to concentrate on feel and weight, not on materials of construction. Strength of shaft becomes critical with older, stronger, more experienced players.
Head - its sole purpose is to act as a frame for the pocket. The head can be made of wood, plastic, or other synthetic material. The most common is plastic, because of its strength and lightness. There are a wide variety of heads available. It is best for beginners and younger players to stay with basic, simple heads.
Pocket - net that forms a pocket in which the ball is carried and cradled and from which the ball is thrown. The pocket is the single most important and controllable part of the Crosse. It is very important that players get to know their pockets and how to adjust them. A player with average equipment, but good stick skills, and a good feel for the pocket will always perform better than a player with expensive equipment and average skills. Pockets come in two types: Traditional and Mesh.
Traditional - consists of four leather thongs, around which are interwoven synthetic cord and shooting strings. This produces a more accurate pass and shot, making it easier to control and absorb the ball. Major drawback: it takes time to soften the leather and form the proper pocket.
Mesh - a single piece of open nylon mesh material that is stretched between the sides of the head and attached with nylon cord, through which shooting strings run. This forms a good pocket immediately, is durable, and easy to adjust. This pocket is more forgiving while learning the basics and is preferred for those just starting the game.
Shooting Strings are made of heavy-duty shoelace material, which are interwoven across the pocket. The purpose is to form a release point of the pocket. The actual pocket is formed just below the last shooting string. The objective is to form a short, smooth path for the ball to travel out of the stick.
The pocket must be adjusted so that the top of the ball does not fall below the bottom edge of the head when the stick is held horizontally. The purpose of this rule is so a player can't make it difficult for an opponent to dislodge the ball with a check.
For safety purposes, all sticks are to have a plastic or wood plug covering the end of the stick opposite the head. Sticks are not to be physically bent, or altered, other than material added on the exterior surface for improved grip and weight.
THE BALL is white, yellow, or orange and is made of solid rubber. The ball is 7 3/4 - 8" in circumference and weighs 5 - 5 1/4 ounces.
HELMET - Each player is required to wear a protective helmet that includes a metal face mask with a chin pad, and a cupped four point chin strap fastened at all points to the helmet. All helmets and face masks should be NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) approved.
The fit is the most important point to consider when selecting a helmet.
MOUTHPIECE - Must be a highly visible color and worn at all times while on the field.
GLOVES, SHOULDER PADS, SHOES, AND JERSEYS are required protective equipment for all regulation games.
Style and type of gloves and shoulder pads is optional, but is restricted to those approved for use in this sport. Type of shoe is optional, however, hard rubber cleats are recommended.
The most important considerations when selecting gloves is fit and position. The player - must be able to get a good grip, be able to feel the shaft through the gloves and be able to control the stick.
Shoulder pads need to fit well. Points to consider when fitting a player are size and weight. Younger players typically require more protection than older, more experienced players. Middies and attackmen usually require more protection because of the frequency and the force of checks being thrown against them. Defensemen need less protection. Goalies must wear all required equipment, including a throat protector and chest pad. Optional equipment for goalies are leg and shin guards. All players need the most protection possible without being uncomfortable or weighted down
PROTECTIVE ARM AND RIB PADS, ATHLETIC SUPPORTERS AND PROTECTIVE CUPS are currently optional safety equipment; although, they are strongly recommended to minimize injury. Many leagues have made these items required equipment.